Power Five conferences

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Michigan (in white) and Ohio State, members of the Big Ten, one of the Power Five conferences, playing in November 2008

The Power Five conferences (or P5) are the five most prominent athletic conferences in college football in the United States. They are part of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of NCAA Division I, the highest level of collegiate football in the nation, and are considered the most elite conferences within that tier. The Power Five conferences have provided nearly all of the participants in the College Football Playoff since its inception, and generally have larger revenue, budgets, and television viewership than other college athletic programs.

The Power Five conferences are the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference, and Southeastern Conference (SEC). The FBS consists of the Power Five, five other conferences known as the Group of Five (G5), and a small number of independent schools. The term Power Five is not defined by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), but the Power Five conferences are identified individually under NCAA rules as "autonomy conferences," which grants them some independence from standard NCAA rules to provide additional resources for the benefit of student-athletes.

Each of the power conferences existed for decades before the establishment of the College Football Playoff, with the oldest power conference, the Big Ten, founded in 1896. Prior to the establishment of the College Football Playoff in 2014, the Power Five conferences, as well as the original incarnation of the Big East Conference, received an automatic berth in one of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl games. The power conferences also compete in numerous sports outside of football, but are not necessarily the most prominent conferences in each individual sport. For example, in men's college basketball, the modern Big East Conference is also generally considered to be a power conference, with the media referring to it and the rest of the Power Five as the "Power Six."

Amid the broader early-2020s NCAA conference realignment, it remains to be seen if the Pac-12 Conference remains part of the Power Five, as ten of that conference's 12 current schools plan to move to other Power Five conferences before the 2024–25 school year.[1]

Current conferences and teams[edit]

The ten FBS conferences as of the 2023–2024 academic year are listed below. For the Power Five, the member universities of each conference are also listed.

  Members departing for the Big Ten in 2024.
  Members departing for the Big 12 in 2024.
  Members departing for the ACC in 2024.
  Members departing for the SEC in 2024.

Power Five conferences and member universities
ACC Big Ten Big 12 Pac-12 SEC
Boston College Illinois Baylor Arizona Alabama
Clemson Indiana BYU Arizona State Arkansas
Duke Iowa Cincinnati California Auburn
Florida State Maryland Houston UCLA Florida
Georgia Tech Michigan Iowa State Colorado Georgia
Louisville Michigan State Kansas Oregon Kentucky
Miami (FL) Minnesota Kansas State Oregon State LSU
North Carolina Nebraska Oklahoma USC Ole Miss
NC State Northwestern Oklahoma State Stanford Mississippi State
Pittsburgh Ohio State TCU Utah Missouri
Syracuse Penn State Texas Washington South Carolina
Virginia Purdue Texas Tech Washington State Tennessee
Virginia Tech Rutgers UCF Texas A&M
Wake Forest Wisconsin West Virginia Vanderbilt
Notre Dame*

* The University of Notre Dame is a full voting member of the ACC, and although its football team does not participate in ACC football and competes as a football independent, it is obligated to play an average of five football games a year against ACC opponents.[2] In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Notre Dame entered into a full ACC football schedule and was eligible for the conference's championship.[3] Notre Dame fields 24 other varsity sports that compete in the ACC, as well as men's ice hockey which competes in the Big Ten Conference.

Group of Five Conferences
Conferences
American Athletic Conference
Conference USA
Mid-American Conference
Mountain West Conference
Sun Belt Conference

Map of Power Five teams[edit]

Power Five conferences is located in the United States
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Arizona
Arizona
Arizona State
Arizona State
California
California
UCLA
UCLA
Oregon
Oregon
Oregon State
Oregon State
USC
USC
Stanford
Stanford
Washington
Washington
Washington State
Washington State
Colorado
Colorado
Utah
Utah
Texas A&M
Texas A&M
Arkansas
Arkansas
Florida
Florida
Kentucky
Kentucky
Georgia
Georgia
Tennessee
Tennessee
Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt
Alabama
Alabama
Auburn
Auburn
LSU
LSU
Ole Miss
Ole Miss
Mississippi State
Mississippi State
Missouri
Missouri
South Carolina
South Carolina
Penn State
Penn State
Rutgers
Rutgers
Nebraska
Nebraska
Indiana
Indiana
Michigan
Michigan
Michigan State
Michigan State
Ohio State
Ohio State
Illinois
Illinois
Iowa
Iowa
Minnesota
Minnesota
Northwestern
Northwestern
Purdue
Purdue
Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Maryland
Maryland
BYU
BYU
Cincinnati
Cincinnati
Houston
Houston
Iowa State
Iowa State
Kansas
Kansas
Kansas State
Kansas State
Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech
Texas Tech
Texas
Texas
Baylor
Baylor
TCU
TCU
UCF
UCF
West Virginia
West
Virginia
Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech
Wake Forest
Wake
Forest
Virginia
Virginia
NC State
NC State
North Carolina
North
Carolina
Duke
Duke
Clemson
Clemson
Boston College
Boston College
Syracuse
Syracuse
Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh
Miami (FL)
Miami (FL)
Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech
Florida State
Florida State
Louisville
Louisville
Teams for each of the Power Five conferences during the 2023 season.
SEC
ACC
Big Ten
Big 12
Big 12 - Departing for SEC
Pac-12
Pac-12 - Departing for Big Ten
Pac-12 - Departing for Big 12
Pac-12 - Departing for ACC
Power Five independent

Power Five conferences in the College Football Playoff era[edit]

Position within college football and the FBS[edit]

The power conferences are all part of NCAA Division I, which contains most of the largest and most competitive collegiate athletic programs in the United States, and the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), which is the higher level of college football within NCAA Division I.[4] Since the demise of the original Big East Conference in 2013 and the establishment of the College Football Playoff (CFP) in 2014, the top conferences in the college football are known as the "Power Five conferences": the Big Ten Conference, the Big 12 Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the Pac-12 Conference, and the Southeastern Conference (SEC). In 2014, the NCAA gave the Power Five conferences greater autonomy in regard to issues such as stipends and recruiting rules.[5][6][A] It is unknown where the term "Power Conference" originated from; it is not officially documented anywhere by the NCAA,[citation needed] though the term has been used in its current meaning since at least 2006.[7] Amid the broader early-2020s NCAA conference realignment, it remains to be seen if the Pac-12 Conference remains part of the Power Five, as ten of that conference's 12 current schools plan to move to other Power Five conferences before the 2024–25 school year.[1] Some sources have also discussed the possible emergence of a “Power Two” consisting solely of the Big Ten and the SEC, both of which have added some of the most successful and well-regarded football programs in the country in recent rounds of realignment.[8][9][10]

Roughly half of the schools in the FBS play in one of the Power Five conferences. The remaining schools are either independent or play in one of the conferences known as the Group of Five conferences, which consists of the American Athletic Conference (AAC or "The American"), Conference USA (CUSA), the Mid-American Conference (MAC), the Mountain West Conference (MW), and the Sun Belt Conference (SBC).[11] The term "Power Five conferences" is often shortened to "P5", while the Group of Five Conferences are often referred to as the "G5".[12] The FBS has four independents as of the 2023 season: the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Army Black Knights, the UConn Huskies, and the UMass Minutemen. Notre Dame is currently considered equal to the Power Five schools, being a full (with the exception of football) member of the ACC with an annual five-game football scheduling agreement with that conference; Notre Dame also has its own national television contract and its own arrangement for access to the CFP-affiliated bowl games should it meet stated competitive criteria. The other independents are generally considered to be on the same level as the G5 conferences.

Compared to the Group of Five, Power Five schools have significantly higher revenues, in large part because of television deals with major networks and streaming services.[13] In 2022, the Power Five conferences generated a combined $3.3 billion in revenue.[14] College football games often draw strong television ratings, and, along with the NFL, college football was one of the few television properties to grow in live ratings between 2013 and 2023.[15] In 2022, college football games between Power Five teams made up five of the ten most-watched non-NFL sporting events among U.S. viewers. With 22.56 million viewers, the 2022 national championship game ranked as the most watched college football game of the year, and as the 33rd most-watched sporting event in the United States; only NFL games ranked higher.[16] Almost every Power Five school has a home stadium capacity of at least 40,000,[17] and the Power Five conferences all had an average attendance of at least 44,000 in 2022. This compares to an FBS average attendance of just under 42,000 and Group of Five average attendance that ranged between 14,000 and 29,000 for each conference.[18] This revenue advantage allows Power Five conferences to pay higher salaries to coaches[13] and invest in expensive athletic facilities and amenities.[19] Although schools cannot directly pay student athletes,[20] since 2021 school boosters and other third parties can pay student athletes for their name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights. Much of this NIL money goes to Power Five conference athletes, although numerous athletes from other conferences have also received NIL compensation.[21]

Scheduling and college football playoff[edit]

Teams in the Power Five conferences play an eight or nine-game conference schedule, and additionally play either three or four non-conference games to fill out their 12-game regular season schedule.[22][B] Teams from the Power Five and the Group of Five often play non-conference games against each other during the season, and sometimes also play against teams from the FCS, the lower tier of division one football.[24] However, many coaches of Power Five schools have argued that Power Five schools should only be allowed to schedule games against other Power Five schools.[11] All Power Five conferences that require their members to schedule at least one Power Five team in nonconference play (currently the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and Pac-12)[citation needed] consider Notre Dame to be a Power Five opponent for such purposes. Before BYU joined the Big 12, the ACC, Big Ten, and SEC also counted it as a Power Five opponent for scheduling purposes, and the Big Ten and SEC continue to count Army as such.[25][26][27] Though not required to do so, all Power Five conferences hold conference championship games following the conclusion of the regular season and prior to the College Football Playoff. The power conferences previously each had two divisions and matched the winner of each division in the conference championship game, but all of the Power Five conferences have scrapped divisions or plan to disband them following the 2023 season; conference championship games instead take place between the two highest-ranking teams.[28]

The College Football Playoff takes place after the conference championship games and contemporaneously with several other bowl games. The CFP rotates among six bowl games, collectively known as the "New Year's Six" bowl games. Beginning with the 2024 season, the playoff will expand to 12 teams, with the top five conference champions receiving automatic bids to the playoffs.[29] The two Pac-12 schools that plan to remain in the conference after the 2023–24 academic year will not be eligible for one of the automatic bids, so at least one Group of Five Conference will be awarded one of the automatic bids in each playoff.[30] Under the new system, the four highest-ranked conference champions will receive first-round byes, while the remaining eight teams will play in the opening round of the playoffs at the home fields of the higher seeds. The New Year's Six bowls will host the quarterfinals and semifinals on a rotating basis, and the championship game will continue to be held at a separately determined neutral site.[29]

History[edit]

Origins of the power conferences[edit]

College football originated in the Northeastern United States in the final third of the 19th century, with the 1869 Princeton vs. Rutgers football game often considered to be the first college football game.[31] The schools that would eventually form the Ivy League dominated college football in the 19th century and for parts of the 20th century, claiming numerous national championships.[32] Motivated in large part by fatalities and injuries sustained in college football, President Theodore Roosevelt worked with various collegiate athletic programs to establish the NCAA in 1906.[33] The NCAA was preceded by the earliest athletic conferences, including the Big Ten, which was founded in 1896 as the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives and was often referred to as the "Western Conference". The conference became known as the Big Ten after expanding to ten teams in 1917. The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA), founded in 1894, at its peak consisted of 28 schools across almost every Southern state, and was the predecessor to both the SEC and the ACC.[34]

The Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MVIAA) was formed in 1907, and in 1928 the MVIAA split into two conferences, with the larger schools from the MVIAA forming the Big Six Conference.[35] The Big Six later expanded to eight teams in 1957, becoming known as the Big Eight Conference. The Southwest Conference (SWC) was formed in 1914 by several schools in Texas and neighboring states, and after some early defections would maintain stable membership into the 1990s. The Pacific Coast Conference (PCC) was founded in 1915, but disbanded in 1959 following a "pay-for-play" scandal. Some of the former members of the Pacific Coast Conference formed the Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU) that same year, and by 1968 the AAWU had renamed itself as the Pac-8 and contained most of the former members of the PCC.[36] Several of the larger schools split off from the SIAA in 1921 to form the Southern Conference, and the SIAA ultimately dissolved in 1942. The Southern Conference in turn later experienced the departure of its most prominent teams, first with the secession of 12 schools located south or west of the Appalachians to form the SEC in 1932. Most of the remaining large schools departed the Southern Conference in 1953 to form the ACC, and after losing its top programs, the Southern Conference ultimately became part of the FCS.[34] The Ivy League was officially founded in the 1950s, but the football programs of Ivy League schools declined in stature after World War II, and the conference ultimately dropped down to Division I-AA in 1982.[32]

Until the 1990s, many top programs, particularly in the Northeast, played as football independents.[37] Many of these independents were affiliated with the Big East Conference, the Atlantic 10 Conference (A-10), or the Metro Conference, each of which were founded in the 1970s as non-football conferences. In 1962, several members of the Skyline Conference and the Border Conference founded the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Although generally not considered a power conference, four of the six founding WAC members would ultimately join one of the Power Five conferences, and the 1984 BYU Cougars football team won the national championship.[38][39][40] NCAA divisions were created in 1973 when the largest schools were placed in Division I, and in 1978, Division I football programs were further sub-divided into Division I-A (later Division I FBS) and Division I-AA (later Division I FCS).[41]

Rise of bowl games and precursors to the BCS[edit]

The Rose Bowl, a postseason game matching top teams from the West with top teams from the East, was first played in 1902 and became a yearly tradition in 1916. As college football grew beyond its regional affiliations in the 1930s, it garnered increased national attention. Four new bowl games were created: the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and Sun Bowl in 1935, and the Cotton Bowl in 1937. In lieu of an actual national championship, these bowl games provided a way to match up teams from distant regions of the country that did not otherwise play. In 1936, the Associated Press began its weekly poll of prominent sports writers, ranking all of the nation's college football teams. Since there was no national championship game, the final version of the AP poll was used to determine who was crowned the national champion of college football.[42]

The first college football game was televised in 1938, and as universities began to widely televise their games after World War II, the NCAA took control of television broadcast rights in 1951 and restricted the number of games that a program could air on television.[43] The 1984 Supreme Court case NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma spurred a round of conference realignment by ending the NCAA's monopoly on television rights of college football games, instead granting the rights to individual schools and conferences.[8] With the exception of Notre Dame, all of the major independent programs joined a conference in the early 1990s.[44] Many of the independents in the Northeast and elsewhere on the Eastern Seaboard joined the Big East, which began playing football in 1991.[36] Other independent schools joined the Big Ten, the ACC, or the SEC, and in 1992 the SEC became the first Division I conference to hold a conference championship game for football.[28] The Southwest Conference dissolved in the wake of a series of scandals and concerns over an insufficiently large television market, and four teams from that conference joined with the Big 8 to create the Big 12 Conference in 1994.[36] The remaining SWC schools joined the WAC or the newly-formed Conference USA, though most would later join one of the Power Five conferences;[C] other future power conference schools such as Louisville and BYU also played in the WAC or Conference USA during the 1990s.

By the middle of the 20th century, the Rose Bowl matched up the Big Ten champion against the champion of the PCC and its successors, the Sugar Bowl generally hosted the conference champion of the SEC, and the Cotton Bowl generally hosted the conference champion of the SWC. The Orange Bowl often hosted the champion of the Big Eight, though it would later develop close ties with the ACC. The Fiesta Bowl was initially founded in 1971 to host the WAC champion, but later rose to prominence in the 1980s while frequently hosting games involving independents, including the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, which served as the de facto national championship game for that season. From 1968 to 1992, the number one and number two ranked teams in the AP poll met only eight times in a bowl game, frequently leading to situations in which multiple teams claimed the national championship. Seeking a more definitive way to determine the national champion, the SEC, Big 8, SWC (prior to its dissolution), ACC, Big East, and independent Notre Dame joined with several bowls to form the Bowl Coalition, which was later succeeded by the similar Bowl Alliance. The Big Ten and Pac-10 declined to join either group in favor of continuing to send their respective champion to the Rose Bowl, contributing to split national championships during some seasons in the 1990s.[45]

Under the BCS system[edit]

In 1998, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was created by the Big 10, Pac-12, and the former members of the Bowl Alliance.[46] The Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl, and the Fiesta Bowl all took part in the system, with a national championship game either rotating among the four bowl sites (prior to the 2006 season) or played as a separate game. The BCS succeeded in bringing an end to split national championships, except in the 2003 season, when LSU won the national championship game and was crowned national champion by the Coaches Poll, but USC was selected as the national champion by the AP poll. While the number of AQ conferences was technically variable,[47] the BCS always had six AQ conferences for its entire history between 1998 and 2013. Following the departure of several Big East members to the ACC, the non-football schools of the Big East known as the "Catholic 7" chose to withdraw from the conference, ultimately creating a new conference that took on the Big East name.[48] The rump Big East renamed itself as the American Athletic Conference and took the Big East's automatic bid for the 2013 season.[49] The Mountain West Conference, formed in 1998 by several former WAC members, was perhaps the closest of the other conferences to getting AQ status, but its request for AQ status was denied in 2012.[50]

In addition to creating a national championship game, the BCS also created a set format for other major bowls. After the two top teams in the BCS rankings were matched up in the BCS National Championship Game, the other three or (after the 2005 season) four bowls selected other top teams. The BCS ranking formula used a combination of polls and computer selection methods to determine team rankings, though conference championships also affected game selection.[46] The term "BCS conference" was used by many fans to refer to one of the six conferences whose champions received an automatic berth in one of the five BCS bowl games, although the BCS itself used the term "automatic qualifying conference" (AQ conference).[51] Each of the bowls had a historical link with one or more of the six BCS conferences with the exception of the former Big East, and the bowl games selected a team from each of these conferences if it was eligible for a BCS bowl and not playing in the national title game. Notre Dame remained an independent in football, but had guaranteed access to the BCS bowls when it met certain defined performance criteria.[52] The conferences automatic qualifying conferences and their traditional bowl links were:

Map of automatic qualifying conference schools in 2013
A map of every university in the automatic qualifying conferences in 2013.

The other conferences (listed below) were non-AQ conferences because they did not receive an annual automatic bid to a BCS bowl game. The highest ranked champion of any non-AQ conference received an AQ bid if they ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS poll or ranked in the top 16 and higher than a champion of an AQ conference.[53] The conferences in this group were:[54]

Under the four-team College Football Playoff system[edit]

The BCS faced several controversies throughout its tenure, driven largely by teams and fans dissatisfied at being left out of the championship game. The presence of two SEC teams in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game brought the opposition to the BCS to a head, and helped spur the adoption of the College Football Playoff beginning with the 2014 season.[46] Like the BCS and the planned twelve-team CFP, the four-team College Football Playoff took place after the conference championship games and contemporaneously with several other bowl games. It rotated among six bowl games, with two bowl games used each year as the national semi-finals, and four other bowls matching the remaining top teams in the country. These six bowl games were collectively labeled as the "New Year's Six" bowl games. The New Year's Six consisted of the four BCS bowls, the Cotton Bowl, and the Peach Bowl, the latter of which was established in 1968 but had been considered a minor bowl for much of its history.[55][56] Each conference champion from the Power Five and the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion were guaranteed a spot in a New Year's Six Bowl.[57] Because there were four spots in the playoffs and five power conferences, at least one Power Five champion was always left out of the playoff. In some seasons only two or three P5 champions were selected to the playoff, though the 2023 Florida State Seminoles were the lone undefeated P5 champion to be passed over for selection.[58]

The new playoff system drew strong television ratings, helping to boost the profile of college football and specifically to the Power Five conferences, who constituted all but one of the CFP participants in the four-team era, and the remaining FBS programs.[59] The CFP also led to changes in stature among the Power Five, and the Pac-12's failure to place a team in the CFP for seven years contributed to the planned exodus of most of its programs following the 2023 season.[60] Bowl games declined in prestige as more focus went to the playoff, and even the New Year's Six bowls frequently saw top players opt out.[59] Like the BCS, the new system endured a series of controversies related to teams being left out of the championship process, both among the Power Five and the Group of Five, leading many to call for a playoff.[46] The 2021 Cincinnati Bearcats were the only Group of Five team[E] to ever play in the College Football Playoff prior to the playoff's planned expansion to twelve teams following the 2023 season; the Bearcats were defeated in the semi-final 2021 Cotton Bowl Classic.[62] Another Group of Five team, the 2017 UCF Knights,[E] was left out of the CFP, but proclaimed themselves the national champion after going undefeated in the regular season and winning the 2018 Peach Bowl.[F][46] In 2022, the College Football playoff board voted to expand the playoff to twelve teams, with the new system set to take effect for the 2024 season.[63]

Realignment since the 1990s[edit]

The FBS has undergone several waves of realignment since the 1990s, when the Bowl Coalition was established. The first realignment occurred in the 1990s, and resulted in the demise of the Southwest Conference, which was a member of the Bowl Coalition and at times considered equal to some of the Power Five conferences; as well as many schools giving up independent status to join conferences. In the early 1990s, Arkansas left the Southwest Conference for the SEC; the original Big East Conference began sponsoring football, with eight former football independents joining either for all sports or football only; and other major independents such as Florida State (to the ACC), Penn State (to the Big Ten), and South Carolina (to the SEC) joined major conferences. In the 1996 NCAA conference realignment, the SWC dissolved, and four Texas teams from that conference joined with the Big 8 schools to form the Big 12 Conference.[36]

During another phase of realignment in 2005, three schools (Boston College, Miami-FL and Virginia Tech) jumped from the Big East to the ACC, and Temple also left the conference (before eventually returning in 2013). The Big East responded by adding former basketball-only member Connecticut and three schools from C-USA.[64][36]

College football underwent another major conference realignment from 2010 to 2014, as the Big Ten and Pac-10 sought to become large enough to stage championship games. Members of the original Big East left the conference to join the Big 12, Big Ten, and ACC. The Big 12 lost members to the SEC, the Pac-12, and the Big Ten, while the Big Ten also gained one former ACC member. The remaining members of the Big East split into two conferences: the American Athletic Conference (the American) and a new Big East Conference that does not sponsor football (only three of the original 10 members of the current Big East sponsor football, all at the second-tier Division I FCS level). The American, the football successor to the Big East, is no longer considered a power conference. Despite the major conference realignment from 2010 to 2014, relatively few schools dropped out of or joined the ranks of the power conferences. Two of the three non-AQ schools that had appeared in multiple BCS bowls left the Mountain West Conference and joined a power conference, as Utah joined the Pac-12 and TCU joined the Big 12. Former Big East members Temple and South Florida are now part of The American; another former Big East member, UConn, left American Conference football after the 2019 season to become an FBS independent while otherwise joining the current Big East. Of these, only Temple was a founding member of the Big East in football.[64][65]

The most recent major realignment is currently ongoing. During a period of less than two months in 2021, the Big 12 both gained and lost members. First, on July 30, the conference lost two of its mainstays when Oklahoma and Texas announced that they would leave for the SEC no later than 2025;[66] the two schools later reached a buyout agreement that will allow them to join the SEC in 2024.[67] The Big 12 reloaded by announcing four new members on September 10, initially announcing that American members Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF plus FBS independent BYU would join no later than 2024.[68] BYU's initial announcement stated that it would join in 2023,[69] and the other three schools' 2023 entry date was officially confirmed after they reached a buyout agreement with The American.[70] On June 30, 2022, Pac-12 mainstays UCLA and USC announced they would move to the Big Ten in 2024.[71] The Pac-12 would lose another member a little more than a year later when Colorado announced it would return to the Big 12 in 2024 after an absence of 13 years.[72] A further five schools announced their departure from the Pac-12 on August 4, 2023; Oregon and Washington would join the Big Ten and Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah would join the Big 12.[73][74] Less than a month after this exodus, California and Stanford announced their departure from the Pac-12 to join the ACC in 2024, with American Conference member SMU also joining the ACC at that time.[75] This realignment fueled discussion that the Big Ten and the SEC would emerge as the "Power Two" conferences,[76][77] or that the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, and Big 12 would form a new group of "Power Four" conferences.[78]

List of schools by tenure in their current Power Five conference[edit]

This list shows institutions who started an uninterrupted association with their current conference prior to 1998.

  Members departing for the Big Ten in 2024.
  Members departing for the Big 12 in 2024.
  Members departing for the ACC in 2024.
  Members departing for the SEC in 2024.

Institution Joined Conference Previous conference
Illinois 1896 Big Ten None
Minnesota 1896 Big Ten None
Northwestern 1896 Big Ten None
Purdue 1896 Big Ten None
Wisconsin 1896 Big Ten None
Indiana 1899 Big Ten None
Iowa 1899 Big Ten None
Kansas 1907 MVIAA/Big 8/Big 12[a] None
Iowa State 1908 MVIAA/Big 8/Big 12[a] None
Ohio State 1912 Big Ten None
Kansas State 1913 MVIAA/Big 8/Big 12[a] None
California 1915 PCC/Pac-12[b] None
Washington 1915 PCC/Pac-12[b] None
Michigan 1896/1917 Big Ten None
Stanford 1918 PCC/Pac-12[b] None
Oklahoma 1919 MVIAA/Big 8/Big 12[a] None
USC 1922 PCC/Pac-12[b] None
UCLA 1928 PCC/Pac-12[b] SCIAC
Florida 1932 SEC Southern Conference
Georgia 1932 SEC Southern Conference
Kentucky 1932 SEC Southern Conference
Tennessee 1932 SEC Southern Conference
Vanderbilt 1932 SEC Southern Conference
Alabama 1932 SEC Southern Conference
Auburn 1932 SEC Southern Conference
LSU 1932 SEC Southern Conference
Ole Miss 1932 SEC Southern Conference
Mississippi State 1932 SEC Southern Conference
Michigan State 1950 Big Ten None
Clemson 1953 ACC Southern Conference
Duke 1953 ACC Southern Conference
NC State 1953 ACC Southern Conference
North Carolina 1953 ACC Southern Conference
Virginia 1953[c] ACC None
Wake Forest 1953 ACC Southern Conference
Oklahoma State 1958 Big 8/Big 12[a] None
Washington State 1962 Pac-12 None[b]
Oregon 1964 Pac-12 None[b]
Oregon State 1964 Pac-12 None[b]
Arizona 1978 Pac-12 WAC
Arizona State 1978 Pac-12 WAC
Georgia Tech 1979[d] ACC Metro/Independent[e]
Arkansas 1991 SEC SWC
Florida State 1991 ACC Metro/Independent[e]
Penn State 1991 Big Ten A-10/Independent[e]
South Carolina 1991 SEC Metro/Independent[e]
Baylor 1996 Big 12 SWC
Texas 1996 Big 12 SWC
Texas Tech 1996 Big 12 SWC
  1. ^ a b c d e The Big 8 split off from the MVIAA in 1928. Although all members of the Big 8 joined the Big 12 with that conference's formation in 1996, the Big 8 was dissolved in 1996. The Big 12 was a new conference, not a direct continuation of the Big 12.[79]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h The Pacific Coast Conference (PCC), the forerunner of the Pac-12, was founded in 1915 and disbanded in 1959. California, Washington, Stanford, USC, and UCLA, which had all been members of the PCC, founded the Athletic Association of Western Universities (now known as the Pac-12) immediately after the dissolution of the PCC. Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington State had also been members of the PCC, but each played several seasons as independents before joining the Athletic Association of Western Universities.
  3. ^ Virginia joined the ACC in December 1953, seven months after the ACC was founded and after the conclusion of Virginia's 1953 season.[80]
  4. ^ While Georgia Tech joined the ACC in 1979, it did not play ACC football until 1983.
  5. ^ a b c d The Metro Conference and the Atlantic 10 Conference (A-10) did not sponsor football. Georgia Tech, Florida State, Penn State, and South Carolina football all competed as independents while members of those conferences.

List of schools that moved among power conferences since 1998[edit]

  Indicates a football-only move.
  Indicates a non-football move.

This list includes any and all institutions who have either left or have announced that they will depart from the ACC, Big East,[a] Big 12, Pac-12, Big 10, or SEC after the establishment of the Bowl Championship Series in 1998.

Institution Year moved From conference To conference
Virginia Tech 2000 A-10/Big East[b] Big East[b]
Miami 2004 Big East ACC
Virginia Tech 2004 Big East ACC
Boston College 2005 Big East ACC
Temple 2005 A-10/Big East[c] A-10/Independent[c]
Colorado 2011 Big 12 Pac-12
Nebraska 2011 Big 12 Big Ten
Missouri 2012 Big 12 SEC
Texas A&M 2012 Big 12 SEC
West Virginia 2012 Big East Big 12
Notre Dame 2013 Big East/Independent[d] ACC/Independent[d]
Pittsburgh 2013 Big East ACC
Syracuse 2013 Big East ACC
Louisville 2014 AAC[a] ACC
Maryland 2014 ACC Big Ten
Rutgers 2014 AAC[a] Big Ten
Texas 2024 Big 12 SEC
Oklahoma 2024 Big 12 SEC
USC 2024 Pac-12 Big Ten
UCLA 2024 Pac-12 Big Ten
Oregon 2024 Pac-12 Big Ten
Washington 2024 Pac-12 Big Ten
Colorado 2024 Pac-12 Big 12
Utah 2024 Pac-12 Big 12
Arizona 2024 Pac-12 Big 12
Arizona State 2024 Pac-12 Big 12
California 2024 Pac-12 ACC
Stanford 2024 Pac-12 ACC
  1. ^ a b c Louisville and Rutgers are also listed in the table because they departed from the American Athletic Conference after the 2013 season, when the AAC inherited the Big East's automatic qualifying status.[81]
  2. ^ a b Virginia Tech had joined the Big East as a football-only member in 1991.
  3. ^ a b Temple was a football-only member of the Big East. It was primarily affiliated with the Atlantic 10 Conference.
  4. ^ a b Notre Dame was a non-football member of the Big East, and Notre Dame football maintained independence after the school joined the ACC.

List of schools that joined power conferences since 1998[edit]

  Indicates a football-only move.
  Indicates a non-football move.

This list includes any and all institutions that joined or have announced that they will join the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, Big 10, or SEC after the establishment of the Bowl Championship Series in 1998, and that had previously been independent or had affiliated with a non-power conference. It also includes all institutions that joined the original Big East between 1998 and 2013, and teams that joined the AAC for the 2013 season, since that conference inherited the Big East's BCS automatic qualifying status for that season.[82]

Institution Year moved From conference To conference
Connecticut 2004 Big East/Independent[a] Big East
Cincinnati 2005 Conference USA Big East
Louisville 2005 Conference USA Big East
South Florida 2005 Conference USA Big East
Utah 2011 MW Pac-12
TCU 2012 MW Big 12
Temple 2012 A-10/MAC[b] Big East
Houston 2013 Conference USA American
Memphis 2013 Conference USA American
SMU 2013 Conference USA American
UCF 2013 Conference USA American
BYU 2023 WCC/Independent[c] Big 12
Cincinnati 2023 American Big 12
Houston 2023 American Big 12
UCF 2023 American Big 12
SMU 2024 American ACC
  1. ^ Connecticut had previously been a Big East member for most sports, but played as a football independent prior to 2004.
  2. ^ Temple had previously been an Atlantic 10 member for most sports, but played football in the Mid-American Conference prior to 2012.
  3. ^ BYU was a football independent prior to joining the Big 12.

Bowl game results[edit]

New Year's Six and BCS Bowl Game appearances by conference[edit]

The following table lists the number of times that a member of each conference appeared was selected to appear in a BCS bowl game (from 1998 to 2013), a New Year's Six bowl game (from 2014 to 2023), or the College Football Playoff (since 2014). From the 1998 to 2005 seasons eight teams were selected, from 2006 to 2013 ten teams were selected, and since 2014 twelve teams have been selected to appear in these games.

A * indicates a team from that conference won the national championship as determined by the BCS or the College Football Playoff,[G] while a ^ indicates a team from that conference was the runner-up in the national championship game. Statistics reflect conference membership at the time of the game. Note that the American filled the Big East's automatic bid in 2013.

Power conferences Other conferences and independents
Season ACC Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC Big East ND MW AAC Others
2023 1 1 3* 2^ 4 n/a - - - 1
2022 1 2^ 3 2 3* n/a - - 1 -
2021 1 2 3 1 3*^ n/a 1 - 1 -
2020 2 2 1^ 1 4* n/a 1 - 1 -
2019 2^ 2 3 1 3* n/a - - 1 -
2018 1* 2 2 1 4^ n/a 1 - 1 -
2017 2 1 3 2 3*^ n/a - - 1 -
2016 2* 1 4 2 2^ n/a - - - 1
2015 2^ 2 3 1 2* n/a 1 - 1 -
2014 2 2 2* 2^ 3 n/a - 1 - -
2013 2* 2 2 1 2^ n/a - - 1 -
2012 1 1 1 2 2* 1 1^ - n/a 1
2011 2 1 2 2 2*^ 1 - - n/a -
2010 1 1 2 2^ 2* 1 - 1 n/a -
2009 1 1^ 2 1 2* 1 - 1 n/a 1
2008 1 2^ 2 1 2* 1 - 1 n/a -
2007 1 2 2^ 1 2* 1 - - n/a 1
2006 1 1 2^ 1 2* 1 1 - n/a 1
2005 1 1* 1 2^ 1 1 1 - n/a -
2004 1 2^ 1 1* 1 1 - 1 n/a -
2003 1 2^ 2 1 1* 1 - - n/a -
2002 1 1 2* 2 1 1^ - - n/a -
2001 1 2^ 1 1 2 1* - - n/a -
2000 1^ 1* 1 2 1 1 1 - n/a -
1999 1* 1 2 1 2 1^ - - n/a -
1998 1^ 1 2 1 2* 1 - n/a n/a -
Total 34 39 54 37 58 15 8 5 8 6
Champs 4 2 3 1 15 1 0 0 0 0

BCS games involving non-automatic qualifying conferences[edit]

Ten "non-AQ" teams appeared in the nine following BCS games, with an overall record of 5-3:

Of these appearances, all were via automatic qualifying bids, except Boise State's participation in the highly controversial 2010 Fiesta Bowl in which the Broncos were selected via at-large bid and played fellow BCS Buster TCU.

Power Five vs Group of Five New Year's Six Games[edit]

College Football Playoff semifinal in bold. Group of Five team in italics. Asterisks denotes years in which Group of Five teams won the game.

Season Bowl Winner Loser
*2014 2014 Fiesta Bowl No. 20 Boise State (MW) 38 No. 10 Arizona (Pac-12) 30
*2015 2015 Peach Bowl No. 18 Houston (American) 38 No. 9 Florida State (ACC) 24
2016 2017 Cotton Bowl No. 8 Wisconsin (Big Ten) 24 No. 15 Western Michigan (MAC) 16
*2017 2018 Peach Bowl No. 12 UCF (American) 34 No. 7 Auburn (SEC) 27
2018 2019 Fiesta Bowl No. 11 LSU (SEC) 40 No. 8 UCF (American) 32
2019 2019 Cotton Bowl No. 10 Penn State (Big Ten) 53 No. 17 Memphis (American) 39
2020 2021 Peach Bowl No. 9 Georgia (SEC) 24 No. 8 Cincinnati (American) 21
2021 2022 Cotton Bowl No. 1 Alabama (SEC) 27 No. 4 Cincinnati (American) 6
*2022 2023 Cotton Bowl No. 16 Tulane (American) 46 No. 10 USC (Pac-12) 45
2023 2024 Fiesta Bowl No. 8 Oregon (Pac-12) 45 No. 23 Liberty (CUSA) 6

Table of revenues, television sports rights, and average attendance[edit]

Total revenue in Fiscal Year 2022
Conference Total Revenue [83] Distribution
Per School[84]
Big Ten Conference $845.6 million $58.8 million
Southeastern Conference $802.0 million $49.9 million
Atlantic Coast Conference $617.0 million $41.3 million
Pac-12 Conference $581.0 million $37.0 million
Big 12 Conference $480.6 million $44.9 million
U.S. television sports rights
Conference National
TV contract
TV Revenue
(Per Year)
Ref
March Madness CBS, Turner $8.8bn ($1.1bn)
College Football Playoff ESPN $5.6bn ($470m)
Pac-12 Conference (Pac-12) Fox, ESPN $3.0bn ($250m)
Big Ten Conference (Big Ten) Fox, ESPN $2.6bn ($440m) [85]
Big 12 Conference (Big 12) Fox, ESPN $2.6bn ($200m)
Southeastern Conference (SEC) ESPN, CBS $2.25bn[86] ($55m)[H]
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) ESPN $1.86bn ($155m)[87]
Average football attendance by conference in 2022[18]
Conference Attendance
Atlantic Coast Conference 48,714
Big Ten Conference 67,295
Big 12 Conference 59,783
Pac-12 Conference 44,458
Southeastern Conference 76,667
FBS average 41,840

Outside of football[edit]

In sports outside of football[edit]

Each Power Five conference sponsors at least 21 sports, with the Big Ten sponsoring the largest number of sports with 28; among all NCAA conferences, only the Ivy League sponsors more sports.[88] Among team sports, all of the Power Five schools sponsor football, men's basketball, and women's basketball, while the vast majority of Power Five schools also sponsor baseball, softball, women's soccer, and women's volleyball. Wrestling, men's soccer, men's lacrosse, women's rowing, women's lacrosse, and women's field hockey are all sponsored by between two and four of the Power Five conferences. Among individual sports, all or the vast majority of Power Five schools sponsor men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, women's tennis, and outdoor track and field for men and women. All of the Power Five conferences also sponsor men's tennis, women's gymnastics, and swimming and diving programs for men and women, while every conference other than the Pac-12 sponsors indoor track and field for men and women.

In 2024, the National Invitation Tournament was restructured such that the Power Five conferences, along with their former BCS counterpart the Big East, received two automatic bids and home court advantage, with the two bids selected from teams in those conferences that were not selected for the main men's basketball tournament. The move drew controversy from mid-major universities and conferences, as the previous NIT structure had awarded automatic bids to all Division I conferences whose teams with the strongest regular season record had not qualified for the main tournament.[89] The awarding of the majority of home court games to the Power Five prompted St. Bonaventure University, which had for the previous decade declined bids to private postseason tournaments for financial reasons but had accepted NIT bids, to preemptively rule itself out of the 2024 NIT, with the university stating that it could not justify entering a tournament that effectively required them to go on the road with no opportunity for home games.[90] The NCAA admitted the maneuver was done as an anti-competitive measure against a proposed private tournament that would have invited such teams.[91]

The Big Ten is the lone Power Five conference to sponsor men's ice hockey and men's gymnastics, the Pac-12 is the lone Power Five conference to sponsor women's beach volleyball, and the ACC is the lone Power Five conference to sponsor fencing. Only the Big 12 and SEC sponsor women's equestrian. Schools are free to compete as independents or in another conference if their main conference does not sponsor a sport; for example, Missouri's wrestling program competes in the Big 12 because the SEC does not sponsor wrestling. Some Power Five conferences have affiliate members that primarily compete in non-power conferences; one example is Johns Hopkins University, which competes at the Division III level for most sports, but affiliates with the Big Ten in men's and women's lacrosse.

Beach volleyball will see significant changes in conference sponsorship in 2024–25. The schools that are leaving the Pac-12 include all of the conference's beach volleyball programs. Most will join the new beach volleyball league of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), which sponsors a broad array of non-revenue sports. At the same time, the Big 12 will add beach volleyball.

All of the NCAA sports that are not sponsored by at least one Power Five conference are part of the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program, or are National Collegiate sports, meaning that schools are not separated into divisions for the purpose of NCAA championships. Various Power Five schools sponsor men's water polo, women's water polo, women's ice hockey, women's bowling, men's volleyball, rifle, or skiing, but all of these programs compete as independents or under the aegis of other conferences such as the MPSF. Some Power Five schools also have varsity teams in sports such as men's rowing that are not governed by the NCAA.

Power Five schools dominate the list of NCAA schools with the most NCAA Division I championships; of the top fifteen schools, only the University of Denver, which last played football in 1960, does not play in a Power Five conference.[92] Power Five schools also generally dominate the standings in the Division I NACDA Directors' Cup and the Capital One Cup, two awards honoring schools with the greatest collegiate athletic success across all sports. For example, the top ten of the 2022-2023 Division I NACDA Directors' Cup standings consisted entirely of Power Five programs.[93] Nonetheless, the Power Five conferences are not necessarily the most prominent conferences in all sports in which they compete. For example, in men's college basketball, the Big East Conference is also generally considered to be a power conference.[94][95]

List of NCAA team sports sponsored by Power Five schools[edit]

  Indicates a sport sponsored by the conference.
  Indicates individual members of the conference sponsor the sport but the conference itself does not. The number of schools sponsoring the sport are indicated in parentheses.
+ prior to a number indicates the number of affiliate members for the conference in that sport
† Indicates a National Collegiate sport

Men's team sports
Sport ACC Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC Total P5[a] Total D1[b]
Football 14[c] 14 14 12 14 68 253
Basketball 15 14 14 12 14 69 350
Baseball 14 13 13 11 14 65 293
Soccer 12 (2) 9 5+1 (2) 26+1+(4) 202
Lacrosse 5 5+1 (1) 11+1+(1) 72
Ice hockey (2) 6+1 (1) 6+1+(2)[d] 57
Volleyball† (1) (2) (3) (6) 25
Water polo† (4) (4) 25
Women's team sports
Sport ACC Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC Total P5[a] Total D1[b]
Basketball 15 14 14 12 14 69 348
Beach volleyball† (1) (1) (1) 9 (2) 9+(5) 62
Field hockey 7 9 (2) 16+(2) 77
Ice hockey† (2) (4) (6) 34
Lacrosse 8 (1) 6+1 6 (2) 20+1+(3) 119
Rowing 9 6+2 8 7 (2) 30+2[e] 87
Soccer 14 14 14 12 14 68 335
Softball 13 10 14 9 13 59 293
Volleyball 15 13 14 12 13 67 332
Water polo† (2) (5) (7) 34
  1. ^ a b The "Total P5" column shows the number of P5 programs that play the sport in their main conference, followed by (if applicable) the number of affiliates of P5 conferences in that sport, followed by (if applicable, and wrapped in parentheses) the number of P5 programs that play the sport outside of a P5 conference.
  2. ^ a b The "Total D1" column shows the total number of NCAA Division I programs sponsoring each sport for the 2021-2022 academic year.[96]
  3. ^ Notre Dame is a full member of the ACC, but plays football as an independent. Notre Dame football is obligated to play an average of five football games a year against ACC opponents.[2]
  4. ^ Notre Dame is a member of the ACC and an affiliate of the Big Ten for men's ice hockey.
  5. ^ Alabama and Tennessee are members of the SEC and affiliate with the Big 12 for women's rowing.

Football:

  • ACC: Notre Dame is an independent and not an ACC member in the sport. It is generally considered to be on the level of the P5 conferences.

Men's Soccer:

  • Big 12: The only current conference members that sponsor men's soccer, UCF and West Virginia, play in the Sun Belt Conference (SBC). None of the schools joining in 2024 sponsor the sport.
  • Pac-12: Five of the conference's 12 full members sponsor men's soccer. They are joined by single-sport member San Diego State, otherwise a member of the Mountain West Conference (MW). Four of the 10 schools leaving the Pac-12 in 2024 sponsor men's soccer: California, Stanford, UCLA, and Washington. Oregon State has since announced that it will house most of its non-football sports, including men's soccer, in the non-football and mid-major West Coast Conference in 2024–25 and 2025–26.
  • SEC: Only two members, Kentucky and South Carolina, sponsor soccer for men. Since the 2022 season, both have housed these teams in the SBC, and their rivalry is the SEC Derby.

Men's Ice Hockey:

Men's Lacrosse:

  • Big 12: As a Pac-12 member, future Big 12 member Utah became the first Pac-12 school, and also the first Division I school west of the Continental Divide, to sponsor men's lacrosse as a varsity sport, launching its team in the 2018–19 school year (2019 season). Utah men's lacrosse joined the Atlantic Sun Conference in July 2021.
  • Big Ten: Five of the 14 full members sponsor men's lacrosse. A sixth team, Johns Hopkins, is a Division III member, but plays both men's and women's lacrosse in Division I and the Big Ten. Before a Division III rule change in early 2022, it was also one of five D-III schools specifically allowed by the NCAA to offer scholarships in its Division I sports. (Division III schools that play selected Division I sports are now allowed to offer scholarships in Division I sports.)
  • Pac-12: See Big 12 above.

Men's Volleyball: As of the current 2024 NCAA men's volleyball season (2023–24 school year), 29 Division I members sponsor varsity men's volleyball, with a large majority being mid-major programs. In fact, D-I men's volleyball schools are outnumbered by Division II schools; members of both divisions compete under identical scholarship limits for a single national championship. Before 2012, this championship was also open to Division III schools, but explosive growth in the sport at that level in the 21st century led to the creation of a separate D-III championship. The only D-I all-sports leagues to sponsor the sport are the mid-major Big West Conference and Northeast Conference. With that in mind, the five Power Five schools with men's volleyball programs are aligned as follows:

  • Big Ten: Ohio State and Penn State both play in single-sport leagues, respectively in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association and Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association.
  • Big 12: The only member that sponsors men's volleyball, BYU, competes in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF).
  • Pac-12: All three members with men's volleyball programs—Stanford, UCLA, and USC—compete in the MPSF. Even with UCLA and USC leaving for the Big Ten in 2024, the latter conference will have only four men's volleyball schools, two short of the minimum needed for an automatic bid to the combined D-I/D-II championship (and for official Big Ten sponsorship), making it likely that both will remain in MPSF men's volleyball. The same holds true for Stanford, which will become the only ACC member with a varsity men's volleyball team.

Men's Water Polo: Only 25 Division I members sponsor varsity men's water polo. As with men's volleyball, a large majority of the D-I schools that sponsor the sport are mid-major programs. The NCAA conducts a single national championship open to all member schools, regardless of division.

  • Pac-12: The only Power Five schools that sponsor the sport are the California members of the Pac-12—California, Stanford, UCLA, and USC. All compete in the MPSF, and will likely remain in that conference for men's water polo after their moves to the ACC (California, Stanford) and Big Ten (UCLA, USC).

Beach Volleyball: A women-only sport at the NCAA level, beach volleyball is sponsored by only one Power Five conference, the Pac-12. Nine of that conference's schools sponsor the sport (with the exceptions being Colorado, Oregon State, and Washington State). Other Power Five schools that sponsor the sport are aligned as follows:

  • ACC: Florida State competes in the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA), a league that now sponsors only beach volleyball (the CCSA's swimming & diving operations were effectively taken over by the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2023–24). Both schools joining from the Pac-12 in 2024, California and Stanford, also sponsor the sport. They will move beach volleyball to the MPSF, which will start sponsoring that sport in 2024–25.
  • Big Ten: Nebraska competes as an independent. All four schools joining from the Pac-12 in 2024—Oregon, UCLA, USC, and Washington—sponsor the sport. However, this remains one short of the six sponsoring members required under Big Ten bylaws for official sport sponsorship. Accordingly, all four West Coast schools will play in the newly established MPSF beach volleyball league.
  • Big 12: TCU competes in Conference USA, and departing member Texas is an independent. Three of the four schools joining from the Pac-12 in 2024 sponsor the sport—Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah. The Big 12 will add beach volleyball starting in 2024–25.
  • SEC: LSU and South Carolina compete in the CCSA, and future member Texas is independent. Mississippi State has been approved by the NCAA to compete, but has yet to do so.

Women's Field Hockey:

  • Pac-12: The two Pac-12 members that sponsor field hockey, California and Stanford, play in the America East Conference. Both will join the field hockey-sponsoring ACC in 2024.

Women's Ice Hockey:

Women's Lacrosse:

  • Big Ten: Six of the 14 full members sponsor women's lacrosse, as do future members Oregon and USC. Johns Hopkins, as noted previously, is a Division III school that plays lacrosse in Division I.
  • Big 12: Cincinnati, the only current member that sponsors women's lacrosse, remained in its former full-time home of the American Athletic Conference as a single-sport member. Future Big 12 members Arizona State and Colorado also sponsor the sport. The Big 12 has announced it will start sponsoring women's lacrosse once Arizona State and Colorado join for the 2025 season (2024–25 school year). It added Florida, San Diego State and UC Davis as associates for its first season.
  • Pac-12: Six of the 12 full members sponsor women's lacrosse, all of which will leave for other conferences in 2024: Arizona State and Colorado for the Big 12; California and Stanford for the ACC; and Oregon and USC for the Big Ten. The two schools that the Pac-12 had added as associates for 2024, San Diego State and UC Davis, will move to the new Big 12 league.
  • SEC: The only two members that sponsor women's lacrosse, Florida and Vanderbilt, compete in The American in the 2024 season. Florida will leave for the new Big 12 league after that season.

Women's Rowing:

  • Big 12: Six of the 14 full members sponsor women's rowing. They are joined by Alabama and Tennessee, the only two SEC schools to sponsor the sport. With the possibility of the SEC adding the sport, the Big 12 added two Group of Five schools, Old Dominion and Tulsa, as women's rowing associates effective in 2024–25. The conference's announcement of the new associates hinted at the departure of Alabama and Tennessee for a notional SEC rowing league, as those schools were not listed as Big 12 rowing members for 2024–25.
  • SEC: See Big 12 above. However, future SEC members Oklahoma and Texas both sponsor the sport. While the SEC has not announced any plans to launch a women's rowing league, SEC bylaws allow the conference to hold a championship event in any sport in which at least 25% of the membership competes. Currently, the SEC sponsors a championship in women's equestrian, part of the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program, with four participating schools (which meets the 25% mark even after the arrival of Oklahoma and Texas).

Women's Soccer:

  • ACC: Georgia Tech is the only Power Five school that does not sponsor women's soccer.

Women's Volleyball:

  • Big 12: Oklahoma State is the only current Power Five school that neither sponsors women's volleyball nor has announced plans to add the sport.
  • SEC: The only current or future SEC member that does not sponsor women's volleyball, Vanderbilt, will add the sport in the 2025 season (2025–26 school year).

Women's Water Polo: Only 33 Division I members sponsor varsity women's water polo. As with men's water polo, a large majority of the D-I schools that sponsor the sport are mid-major programs. The NCAA conducts a single national championship open to all member schools, regardless of division.

  • Big Ten: The only two Big Ten schools that sponsor the sport, Indiana and Michigan, respectively compete in the MPSF and the varsity division of the Collegiate Water Polo Association.
  • Pac-12: Five Pac-12 schools—the four California members, plus Arizona State—compete in the MPSF. All are likely to remain in MPSF women's water polo after joining their new primary conferences. Arizona State will be the only Big 12 member to sponsor the sport, and California and Stanford will be the only ACC members to do so. UCLA and USC will join Indiana and Michigan as Big Ten members that sponsor varsity women's water polo, but that conference will still be two short of the six sponsoring members required under conference bylaws for official sports sponsorship.

List of NCAA individual sports sponsored by Power Five conferences[edit]

  Indicates a sport sponsored by the conference.
  Indicates individual members of the conference sponsor the sport but the conference itself does not. The number of schools sponsoring the sport are indicated in parentheses.
+ prior to a number indicates the number of affiliate members in that sport
† Indicates a National Collegiate sport
‡ Indicates an NCAA Emerging Sports for Women sport sponsored by at least one Power Five conference

Men's individual sports
Sport ACC Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC Total P5[a] Total D1[b]
Cross country 15 12 12 9 13 61 315
Golf 12 14 14 12 14 66 292
Gymnastics† (1) 5 (2) 5+(3) 12
Swimming & diving 12 5 10 8 10 45 130
Tennis 13 8 12 8 13 54 233
Track and field (indoor) 15 12 11 (10) 13 51+(10) 264
Track and field (outdoor) 15 12 13 10 13 63 287
Wrestling[c] 6 4+9 14 3+3 (1) 27+12[d] 76
Women's individual sports
Sport ACC Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC Total P5[a] Total D1[b]
Bowling† (1) (1) (2) 34
Cross country 15 14 14 12 14 69 347
Equestrian‡ 3+1 4 7+1 19
Golf 12 13 14 11 14 64 262
Gymnastics† 4 4+1 10 8 8 34+1 61
Swimming & diving 12 8 13 9 12 54 190
Tennis 14 14 14 11 14 67 300
Track and field (indoor) 15 14 13 (12) 14 56+(12) 331
Track and field (outdoor) 15 14 13 12 14 68 339
Co-ed individual sports
Sport ACC Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC Total P5 Total D1[b]
Fencing† 4 (3) (1) 4+(4) 20/27
Rifle† (2) (1) (2) (5) 22/17
Skiing† (1) (2) (3) 10/10
  1. ^ a b The "Total P5" column shows the number of P5 programs that play the sport in their main conference, followed by (if applicable) the number of affiliates of P5 conferences in that sport, followed by (if applicable, and wrapped in parentheses) the number of P5 programs that play the sport outside of a P5 conference.
  2. ^ a b c The "Total D1" column shows the total number of NCAA Division I programs sponsoring each sport for the 2021-2022 academic year. For co-ed sports, the first figure represents the sum of men's and co-ed teams for that sport, and the second figure represents the sum of women's and co-ed teams for that sport.[96]
  3. ^ The NCAA classifies wrestling as an individual sport, but crowns both individual and team champions in all three divisions.
  4. ^ Missouri is a member of the SEC and an affiliate of the Big 12 for wrestling.

Equestrian:

Women's gymnastics:

  • Big 12: Denver is a Big 12 affiliate for women's gymnastics.

Wrestling:

  • Big 12: Four of the 10 full members sponsor wrestling, as does future member Arizona State. As of the current 2023–24 season, they are joined by nine single-sport associates—Air Force and Wyoming (both MW); California Baptist and Utah Valley (both in the Western Athletic Conference); Missouri (SEC); North Dakota State and South Dakota State (both in the Summit League); Northern Colorado (in the Big Sky Conference); and Northern Iowa (in the Missouri Valley Conference). Oklahoma's wrestling affiliation once it leaves for the SEC has yet to be determined.
  • Pac-12: Three full members sponsor wrestling, two of which (Arizona State and Stanford) will leave in 2024. They are joined by single-sport members Bakersfield, Cal Poly, and Little Rock. The two California single-sport members are otherwise members of the Big West Conference, while Little Rock is a full member of the Ohio Valley Conference.
  • SEC: Missouri, the only SEC school to sponsor the sport, competed in the MAC through the 2020–21 season, after which it returned to its former full-time home of the Big 12 as a single-sport member.

Institutional profiles and academics[edit]

The overall institutional profiles and academic prestige of colleges and universities have a major influence on collegiate athletics conference membership,[97][98][99] and athletic conference membership can impact a university's fundraising, academics, and overall reputation.[100][101] Membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU), a 71-member organization consisting of many of the largest and most prestigious research universities in the United States and Canada, has frequently been discussed as a factor in conference realignment, particularly for the Big Ten.[97][102][103][104] About half of the Power Five schools are in the AAU, with most of those schools in the ACC, Big Ten, or Pac-12, although several are members of the Big 12 or the SEC. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, a classification system of universities based on research activity,[105] lists nearly all Power Five schools as "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity"; the exceptions are Wake Forest, TCU, and BYU, each of which are listed as "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity" (future ACC member SMU is also an R2 school). Of the 30 U.S. universities with the greatest research expenditures in 2022, nearly two-thirds were members of one of the Power Five conferences.[106] Some of the Power Five conferences share academic resources among conference members through related academic consortiums such as the Big Ten Academic Alliance and the Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Consortium.[107][100]

A majority of the Power Five schools are public universities, and many of these public schools are flagship universities, often being the largest, oldest, most selective, most research-intensive, most well-financed, and best-known public universities in their respective states. Many of these public schools are also land-grant universities. About one-fifth of Power Five schools are private colleges or universities, with about half of those schools belonging to or planning to join the ACC. Many of the private schools are nonsectarian; of the remainder, Boston College and Notre Dame are affiliated with the Catholic Church, Baylor is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, BYU is affiliated with the LDS Church, and TCU is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ.[108] In 2023, ten of the fifteen U.S. universities with the highest enrollment were members of one of the Power Five conferences,[109] and the vast majority of Power Five schools have an enrollment of at least 20,000 students. Geographically, using the four statistical regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, there are 34 Southern Power Five schools (35 once SMU joins the ACC), 17 Midwestern Power Five schools, 13 Western Power Five schools, and five Northeastern Power Five schools. Connecticut[110] and Nevada are the most populous states without a Power Five school, followed by New Mexico and Idaho.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Section 5.3.2.1 of the NCAA Constitution grants the five conferences autonomy "to permit the use of resources to advance the legitimate educational or athletics-related needs of student-athletes and for legislative changes that will otherwise enhance student-athlete well-being". Eleven areas of autonomy are listed, including promotional activities unrelated to athletics participation, pre-enrollment expenses and support, and financial aid.
  2. ^ Hawaii and teams that play at Hawaii are allowed to schedule a thirteenth regular-season game.[23]
  3. ^ Of the former long-term members of the SWC, all but Rice University are currently in a Power Five conference.
  4. ^ The WAC dropped football following a near-complete membership turnover that saw the league stripped of all but two of its football-sponsoring schools. The conference would reinstate football in 2021, but as part of the second-tier Division I FCS; it has since merged its football league with that of the Atlantic Sun Conference, creating the current United Athletic Conference.
  5. ^ a b The Cincinnati Bearcats and UCF Knights later joined the Big 12 in 2023, thereby becoming Power Five teams.[61]
  6. ^ UCF was also recognized as national champion by the Colley Matrix, but the AP poll and the Coaches Poll both selected Alabama as the national champion after it won the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship.
  7. ^ Since 1998, there has been one instance where either the BCS or College Football Playoff chose a different national championship than the AP poll or the Coaches Poll. In the 2003 season, the LSU Tigers won that season's BCS National Championship game and were chosen as the champion by the Coaches Poll, but the AP poll selected USC as the national champion after their victory in the 2004 Rose Bowl.
  8. ^ This amount is only for the SEC's CBS deal, which is minimal compared to their ESPN deal. The ESPN payout (encompassing the SEC network) is determined on a yearly basis based on revenue. When combined, the SEC payouts are comparable to other conferences on this list.

References[edit]

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