August 7, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Power Five conference realignment craziness

What are the implications of conference realignment on women's basketball?

Conference realignment is firmly on our radars the past few weeks and days and has been downright crazy. Analyst and national correspondent Missy Heidrick is joined by longtime sports journalist and Pac-12 veteran Michelle Smith to talk about the break-up of the Pac-12, the new looks of the Big Ten and Big 12 and ultimately, what is the fallout for student-athletes, including women’s basketball programs. The ripple effect? We are not quite sure yet.

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First, Michelle shares how the changes to the Pac-12 conference came to be:

“[There was] a 7 a.m. meeting with the Pac-12 commissioner and the nine remaining schools. And then by an hour later, it was over and Oregon and Washington had said we’re leaving for the Big Ten and that led to the dominoes of Arizona, Arizona State and Utah joining Colorado in the Big 12. And there are four teams right now currently standing in the Pac-12 for [the 2024-25] season,” Michelle said.

Michelle elaborated to explain the impact that she believes an influx of formerly Pac-12 team will have on the competitiveness of the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences:

“[The Pac-12] been a super competitive conference for the last few years. And in both conferences, you’re taking some of [the Pac-12’s] best teams, and you’re bringing them into the Big Ten and the Big 12, which is going to make it more competitive, I think it’s going to be an absolutely bruising fight in the Big Ten. And I think that Arizona and Colorado and Utah are going to raise the level in the Big 12… And so I think it’s good competitively for both conferences from a women’s basketball perspective.”

Michelle Smith

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Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Michelle Smith was present for the Pac-12 meeting wherein conference realignment was discussed. Michelle was not in attendance for that meeting, and this was an error.

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