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UO Trustees vote to leave Pac-12, join Big Ten

Autzen Stadium as seen from a pedestrian footbridge. A street is in the foreground.
Chris Lehman
Autzen Stadium is home to the University of Oregon football team.

The University of Oregon Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday afternoon to leave the Pac-12 athletic conference and join the Big Ten.

It’s part of a seismic shift in the world of college sports, which has seen several large universities change conference affiliations recently.

"It’s an historic day for the University of Oregon and it’s one that I’m enthusiastic about," said UO President Karl Scholz, who's been on the job for less than five weeks.

“Our coaches are really enthusiastic about this opportunity," he said. "The student athletes we recruit want to compete against the best, and they know that there is that opportunity.”

The move is already drawing the attention of state lawmakers.

Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis, R-Albany, is calling for legislative hearings to evaluate the impact of the change. She said both the University of Oregon and its counterpart in the Pac-12, Oregon State, receive millions in taxpayer money each year.

“We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars going to these university programs," she said. "And if one leaves a certain conference and goes to another one, what are the unintended consequences for both of those schools and how it relates to taxpayer dollars.”

The change in conferences will take effect prior to the 2024 football season.

The decision mirrors one made Friday by the University of Washington. The Big Ten conference has already signed off on the two schools' impending move.

It leaves the Pac-12 with a dwindling number of schools, including just Oregon State and Washington State in the Pacific Northwest.

As for the nearly 130-year-old athletic rivalry between the University of Oregon and Oregon State?

In a press release from the UO, the school said it "will prioritize the long-held traditions, including competition across all sports with Oregon State University."

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”