For the last month, ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said, the leaders of college athletics’ newly formed alliance — Phillips, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren and Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff — have spent just as much time conversing with each other as they have their own family, including their spouses.
“We’ve literally been married to one another,” Phillips said.
Of course, that timeline isn’t a coincidence. In late July, Texas and Oklahoma announced they will be leaving their post as Big 12 members in 2025 (if not sooner) to join the SEC. Phillips admitted it raised the collective antenna of college athletics across the country.
“I think what that did is that it allowed all of us in college athletics to maybe take a step back and step forward and really start evaluating what the next one, three, five, seven, 10, 15 years look like in college athletics?” Phillips said during a conference call Tuesday. “Quite naturally, because we’re in this business, we’re always aware of conference realignment.”
But Warren stopped short of calling the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12’s alliance a reaction to the SEC’s move, particularly when it comes to money. While all three commissioners agreed their formation has the potential to increase revenue for the schools in their leagues, particularly when it comes to future media rights deals centered around football scheduling, they were adamant that finances weren’t the primary motivation for their union, which became official Tuesday.
First and foremost, Kliavkoff said, the alliance, which will include a scheduling partnership for football, men’s and women’s basketball and Olympic sports, was a chance for the three leagues to try to protect the collegiate model and give student-athletes the chance to maximize their college experience.
Phillips also said the three conferences saw an opportunity to stabilize a “volatile environment” that they believe exist in college athletics, adding it’s “too important to too many athletes across the country.”
“Sometimes it can’t be driven by money,” he said.