row2k Features
How the End of the PAC-12 Impacts Rowing
January 30, 2024
John FX Flynn, row2k

The recent football and revenue driven implosion of the PAC-12 Conference will also have implications for the rowing programs that will no longer call the PAC-12 home after the 2024 season.

While all of the varsity teams impacted will continue to have a path to the NCAA or IRA championship the seven women's programs and four men's programs will now be spread across three conferences. Teams will be heading variably to the Big 10, ACC, and WCC, while the Pac-12 Championship will be held for the final time this spring in its current form.

For NCAA qualification, there will likely be 12 At-Large NCAA bids now that there will only be 10 conference championships to decide the Automatic Qualifiers.

Regular season racing may not change too much, as many of these teams race each other already for selection crossover purposes, but many still face uncharted territory. What is certain is that the NCAA D1 Championship will remain at its current size--22 teams--even with though there is now one less conference supplying the AQ's that cannot be more than 50% of the field.

On the men's side, because qualification is less complicated for the IRA Championships, the four varsity teams will be able to keep their schedules largely intact as well--though the historic Cal-Washington Duel will now be a cross-conference match up for both the men and women. There are tentative plans for the men to continue racing each other at the end of the regular season in a championship together on the West Coast before the IRA. None of the conferences the schools will join offers a men's championship in rowing.

As the PAC-12 comes to an end, it is worth noting just how strong schools from the conference have been in the sport: in the 26 year history of the NCAA Championship, three PAC-12 schools--California, Stanford, and Washington--won 11 NCAA titles, and provided the runner up in 10 of the years when they did not win.

At the IRA, 18 of the last 26 titles have been won by California or Washington, who have 9 titles each since 1997.

The new conference affiliations will look like this for the women's teams:

  • Stanford and California to the ACC
  • Washington, USC, and UCLA to Big 10
  • Oregon State and Washington State, which were temporarily left without a conference altogether, to the WCC as associate members for women's rowing.

Southern Methodist will join the ACC as well; the ACC will go from 9 schools to 12, and the Big Ten, will go from eight schools (that have raced in a straight final) to 11.

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