The Pac-12 is staying at 12 for the time being.
The conference said Thursday that it would not be adding any teams in the wake of the departure of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC. With the Big 12 sitting at eight teams after OU and UT leave the conference, it seemed possible that the remaining teams would be potential candidates for the Pac-12, Big Ten or ACC.
"Following consultation with our presidents, chancellors and athletic directors, the Pac-12 Conference has made the decision to not pursue expansion of our membership at this time," the conference said in a statement. "This decision was made following extensive internal discussion and analysis, and is based on the current competitive strength and cohesiveness of our 12 universities. It is also grounded in our confidence in our ability as a conference to best support our student-athletes and to grow and thrive both academically and athletically."
The Pac-12's announcement wasn't too much of a surprise and came days after it announced an alliance with the ACC and Big Ten. The three conferences said they would be working together on issues like scheduling going forward, but the three commissioners of the conferences didn't provide much in the way of specifics regarding the alliance in a Tuesday news conference.
What's next for conference realignment?
While we know what the Pac-12 is doing right now, it's still unclear what the next step in conference realignment will be. It's improbable that the Big 12 will remain at eight teams after OU and UT leave and the ACC and Big Ten haven't issued statements like the Pac-12. The alliance would seem to make it believable that those two conferences aren't expanding either, but we don't know for sure. The alliance doesn't include a contract or binding agreement among the conferences and their schools.
The Big 12 is determined to stay relevant and it could look to add teams to its stable if the remaining eight feel that staying together is in their best interest. The Big 12's current grant of rights agreement goes through 2025 and Oklahoma and Texas are contractually bound to the conference until that date. That is, however, negotiable. The two schools could pay a buyout fee to get out of the conference sooner.
The Pac-12's decision to stand pat comes in the infancy of commissioner George Kliavkoff's tenure. The former MGM executive was introduced as the conference's replacement for Larry Scott in May. Kliavkoff said earlier this summer that the Pac-12 had been in touch wit numerous schools interested in joining the conference, but those discussions ultimately weren't fruitful.
For now, anyway. As we've learned over the last 12 years, never say never when it comes to conference realignment.