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Dennis Dodd / CBS Sports

Hours after the Colorado Board of Regents unanimously approved a resolution for the Buffaloes program to end its Pac-12 tenure and return to the Big 12 beginning in 2024, the Pac-12 released a statement meant to reassure fans of the conference's future. With a long-awaited media rights deal uncertain and membership down to nine teams as of July 1, 2024, the league is focused on first securing a long-term rights partner before it considers expansion possibilities.

"The Pac-12 is comprised of world-leading universities and athletic programs who share a commitment to developing the next generation of leaders, supporting student-athletes' academic and athletic excellence, and broad-based athletic success," the conference said in a statement. "We remain committed to our shared values and to continuing to invest in our student-athletes.  Today's decision by the University of Colorado has done nothing to disrupt that commitment.

"We are focused on concluding our media rights deal and securing our continued success and growth. Immediately following the conclusion of our media rights deal, we will embrace expansion opportunities and bring new fans, markets, excitement and value to the Pac-12."

When Colorado departs the Pac-12 in 2024, it will conclude a 13-year tenure with the conference that it joined after spending the prior 63 years in various versions of the Big 12.

The Pac-12, which was already planning for USC and UCLA to set sail for the Big Ten on July 1, 2024, will now need to replace three programs as it seeks to reform the league. It's possible the Pac-12 could look to expand beyond 12 total teams should it come to believe -- likely through conversations with potential media rights partners -- a quantity of additions would be in the conference's best financial interest.

There's no doubt the Pac-12 is presently at a crossroads, particularly as it has been unable to finalize its new rights deal. The Big 12 is partially responsible for the Pac-12's struggles as it opened its contract with Fox and ESPN -- both presently Pac-12 partners as well -- to jump ahead of the Pac-12 in the rights negotiation process.

The Big 12 secured a $2.3 billion agreement with Fox and ESPN through the 2030-31 athletic season. Conference teams will earn an average of $31.7 million annually from the networks as part of the deal, and Colorado will reportedly receive a full share upon its arrival.

Though unable to secure its own deal for the better part of a year, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff has reassured members that the conference will sign a deal that equals or potentially exceeds the annual value of the Big 12's agreement. A sticking point for some Pac-12 members will be whether at least 50% of football games will air on linear television, which is still seen as a more valuable asset -- both financially and from an exposure standpoint -- than streaming services, which are still wading into live sports.

Still, the constant delays without either an agreement or named rights partners has left some Pac-12 member universities feeling uneasy. Most have nevertheless expressed commitments to the Pac-12, though all are waiting until they are presented with the parameters of the media rights package Kliavkoff secures before making final decisions on their futures.

While Oregon and Washington are the most prominent programs remaining in the league, potential exits to the Big Ten are unlikely for the programs with the conference not presently considering further expansion beyond 16 teams. Therefore, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah -- the so-called "Four Corners" schools alongside Colorado -- are most at risk of departing the Pac-12.

Securing their long-term commitments will only be achieved if the Pac-12 is able to land a significant rights agreement.

Kliavkoff met with Pac-12 membership Wednesday to provide an update on those negotiations, according to Yahoo Sports. Pac-12 presidents and chancellors then met Thursday night prior to releasing the league-wide statement.

Just one week ago, Kliavkoff stood firm behind the conference's membership at Pac-12 Media Day, a message he has preached since last July. He reiterated that a new rights deal was on the way despite negotiations continuing a year after conference members authorized them to begin.

San Diego State, which has long been seen as a primary target in Pac-12 expansion, planned to depart the Mountain West but was unable to extricate itself from the conference due the Pac-12 not yet having a rights deal agreed upon. However, should that domino fall, SDSU will remain a top candidate in expansion as the Pac-12 wants to lock up another prominent California-based institution.