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Big Ten leaders authorize commissioner to explore adding Oregon, Washington as expansion teams, per report

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Big Ten school presidents authorized commissioner Tony Petitti to explore conference expansion with a focus on Pac-12 members Oregon and Washington, according to ESPN. No formal offers have been made, though according to Action Network, the league is merely sorting through financial aspects at this point as it zeroes in on the potential new additions.

Sources confirmed to CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd on Wednesday that the Big Ten entered exploratory discussions on another round of expansion with four Pac-12 schools -- Oregon, Washington, Cal and Stanford -- on the radar amid growing uncertainty around the Pac-12's future. The Big Ten previously poached USC and UCLA from the Pac-12 with the Los Angeles-based schools set to become Big Ten members on July 1, 2024, bringing conference membership to 16 schools.

Oregon and Washington were identified as the priority targets in the event that the Big Ten seeks to add only two new schools. Cal and Stanford would be next in line if the Big Ten seeks to add four new members and bring its total membership to 20. The Washington Board of Regents is scheduled to conduct a meeting Thursday evening that centers on an executive session "to discuss with counsel present pending or potential litigation." A UW spokesperson, in a statement to the Tacoma News Tribune, said "no action will be taken" during the meeting.

In a statement to CBS Sports on Wednesday, the Big Ten said it's "still focused on integration of USC and UCLA, but it's also the commissioner's job to keep conference chancellors and presidents informed about new developments as they occur."

The Big Ten's exploration into another round of expansion comes as the Pac-12 has lost three members in the last 13 months. Colorado became the third Pac-12 school to defect when the Buffaloes announced they will return to the Big 12 ahead of the 2024 season. The Pac-12 also is still without a media rights deal secured beyond the upcoming 2023-24 season, and while commissioner George Kliavkoff presented a deal to member schools Tuesday, no agreement was reached.

Colorado accounts for one of the "Four Corners" schools, along with Arizona, Arizona State and Utah, that have been linked as Big 12 expansion targets for a considerable period of time. The Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees both of the Arizona schools in that group, is also slated to hold an executive session Thursday evening in which the future of athletics at both schools are expected to be discussed. 

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