The Atlantic Coast Conference will now have a presence on both U.S. coasts.
On Friday, the ACC announced that SMU, California and Stanford will all join the conference of East Coast schools starting in 2024.
The moves were made as the once historic and powerful Pac-12 has essentially crumbled in the wake of conference realignment set off by the pending departures of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten.
After USC and UCLA left, the remaining 10 teams tried to find a TV partner. Instead, Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah left for the Big 12 and Oregon and Washington also decided to join the Big Ten. That left just Washington State, Oregon State, Stanford and California left in the Pac-12.
After Friday's announcement, Washington State and Oregon State are the last teams standing. As keeping the Pac-12 alive seems less likely with California and Stanford leaving, it appears Washington State and Oregon State might head to the non-power conferences of either the Mountain West or American Athletic.
In its announcement, Cal said it was pleased to maintain its natural rivalry with nearby Stanford.
"We made this decision in the best interests of our student-athletes, the university and our extended Cal community of alumni and supporters," University of California Berkeley Chancellor Carol T. Christ said. "We look forward to cheering on the Golden Bears in their new conference home, just as we look forward to many more years of competing for The Stanford Axe."
While Washington State and Oregon State may have to drop out of the power conference ranks, SMU will once again be in a major conference. When the Southwest Conference crumbled after Texas and Texas A&M left in the 90s for the Big 12, SMU went to the Western Athletic Conference and then Conference USA.
SMU once was among the titans of college football. It was a perennial Top 5 program in the early 80s, despite being on probation. But years later, it was learned the program illegally recruited players, as boosters offered funds to pay players.
In 1987, the NCAA handed down what was dubbed the "death penalty," which took SMU off the field for two seasons. When the program returned in 1989, it won one game. SMU would not make it back to another bowl game until 2009.
"This is a significant day for the ACC as we welcome Cal, SMU and Stanford to this incredible conference," said University of Virginia President James E. Ryan, chair of the ACC Board of Directors. "This expansion will enhance and strengthen the league now and in the future. We greatly appreciate the tireless efforts of Commissioner Jim Phillips throughout this entire process, especially his focus on minimizing travel burdens for student-athletes, and we are excited about the ACC's collective future."
The ACC's expansion brings the conference to 18 members, with 17 playing football. Notre Dame will continue competing as a football independent.
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