AAU Member: No
Top 40 Revenue School: No (*#74)
Top 120 Academic National University: Yes (#72 tied)
Top 30 tv/streaming market: Yes (#5)
To understand why SMU would join the Pac-12 is to understand its conference affiliation history. The Big 12 didn’t invite them to join their conference when the Southwest Conference dissolved. SMU has been in various conferences including the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), Conference USA, and now the American Athletic Conference (AAC). The Mustangs would love the stability of joining a power five conference like the Pac-12 after not receiving an invitation to the Big 12 over all of these past decades.
It makes sense for the Pac-12 to add a team like SMU which has very solid academics and is in a top-five media market. It is also important for the conference that the Pac-12 maintains its overall membership at twelve teams USC and UCLA leaving in July of 2024.
It is reported that SMU only receives seven million annually as part of its media rights deal with the AAC and would get substantially more money as a member of the Pac-12 conference. The last realistic opportunity for the Mustangs to join the Big 12 passed when the conference added four schools in Brighman Young, Central Florida, Cincinnati, and Houston from the state of Texas. SMU is making efforts to improve its chances of joining a conference like the Pac-12.
SMU with a $50 million commitment from the Garry Weber Foundation, which is the largest gift in the history of Mustang Athletics for a $100 million new project to build and develop a 192,500-square-foot Garry Weber End Zone Complex at Gerald J. Ford Stadium that began construction in late 2022, shows that they are serious about their football program.
They have been rumors and reports through various media outlets that if the Pac-12 expands to 12 teams once UCLA and USC leave for the Big Ten, SMU will be on of the two teams that they will add.