UC Regents approve UCLA Big Ten move, include conditions

UC Regents approve UCLA Big Ten move, include conditions

UC Regents approve UCLA Big Ten move, include conditions

WESTWOOD, Calif. — UCLA is officially heading to the Big Ten after receiving approval from the University of California regents on Wednesday, but the approval comes with stipulations.

More than five months after the Bruins, along with USC, announced their shocking intention to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024, the president of the UC Board of Regents and the president of UCOP have recommended allow UCLA to continue its move to the Big Ten in a special meeting Wednesday on the UCLA campus. The Board of Regents approved the move by a vote of 11-5.

“We looked at the realities of where we are and what the alternatives were,” said Board of Regents Chairman Rich Leib. “And I think ultimately we just decided that the best thing to do is the way we’ve done it, which is the conditions, but allow them to go.”

As part of the board’s decision, UCLA will need to increase its planned investment in student-athlete resources and may need to provide a grant to the University of California, Berkeley of between $2 million and $10 million once it reaches the Pac-12 media deal is guaranteed, depending on the amount of the deal. A UC spokesman said the $2 million to 10 million grant to UC Berkeley would be an annual payment.

The board included other conditions for UCLA to address the impact of the move on athletes, including funding for academic support, nutritional support and mental health services.

According to the letter to the regents, the UC Berkeley subsidy was to “improve the support of students and athletes on that campus.”

“Berkeley has really taken a hit from UCLA’s departure,” Leib said. “They’ve suffered quite a bit. We don’t know how much, but we thought it was important… that we somehow managed to create Berkeley, maybe not all of it, but at least we helped them through that situation.”

Leib said the board is authorized to review the matter once the Pac-12 secures a deal with the media.

“We are excited to participate in the Big Ten Conference in 2024 and are grateful for the thoughtful commitment of the Board of Regents to this decision,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said following the decision. “We’ve always been driven by what’s best for our 25 teams and more than 700 student-athletes, and the Big Ten offers exciting new competitive opportunities on a larger national media platform for our student-athletes to compete and showcase their talent.”

During four meetings between last July and December, the regents discussed and considered input and research regarding the move. In September, UC Regent General Counsel Charles Robinson said the board had the authority to block the move. The board was expected to announce a decision in November but postponed it and called an extraordinary meeting for Wednesday to address further questions and deliver a final decision.

According to a document from the regent, the board wanted more information and research into the additional resources that would be needed to improve the student athlete experience as part of the move.

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren expressed gratitude to the UC Regents “for respecting the decision” by UCLA to switch conferences.

“The collegiate athletic landscape is evolving, and the Big Ten Conference is in a position of stability and strength with unparalleled opportunities, exposure and resources for our member institutions and student-athletes,” Warren said in a prepared statement. “With the collective goal of prioritizing the health and well-being of our student-athletes and advancing our academic and athletic mission under the umbrella of higher education, we will continue our process of methodically integrating UCLA and USC into the Big Ten Conference”.

The move to the Big Ten has had its detractors, including UCLA alum Bill Walton and the National College Players Association – run by former UCLA football player Ramogi Huma – which spoke out against the realignment last week. week, citing the effect the extra travel would have on students’ academic performance and mental health.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ also disagreed, saying the move would further the professionalization of college athletics. UC Berkeley is the school most affected by the UCLA move. The sister schools will now separate, and a Pac-12 without the Los Angeles market of USC and UCLA will likely lower the value of an impending media rights deal.

Prior to the aforementioned November meeting, UCLA provided the regents with a document outlining the school’s financial plans for travel, academic support, mental health services, nutrition, and other areas related to conference relocation, as well as a poll of 111 athletes with their views on changing championships . The school said it plans to spend an additional $10 million on athlete resources due to the move.

On Wednesday, the board directed UCLA to provide additional annual resources for student-athlete support as a condition of its move to the Big Ten.

“We’ve actually added more, so all together we have about, between 11 and 12 million improvements,” said Leib. The official number is between $11.03 and 12.20 million.

Those improvements include the provision of approximately $6.3 million in academic support, nutritional support and mental health services for all student-athletes. Approximately $4.3 million will go to food, which requires on-campus breakfast and lunch for all UCLA athletes, professional dietary services, and nutritious meals while traveling.

“You are not playing [Rutgers] every week,” Jarmond said during a speech at a Sports Business Journal conference in Las Vegas last week. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that much. The benefits far outweigh these challenges.”

UCLA, which has been plagued by $62.5 million in debt, according to the Los Angeles Times, said it would be in line to earn up to $70 million a year in media rights and subsequent exposure. In August, the Big Ten signed a seven-year, $7 billion media deal with Fox, CBS and NBC. The Pac-12 is left without a television deal.

Speaking in Las Vegas last week, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff said the conference would await the decision of the regents before pursuing further a deal with the media. Pac-12 is the only conference without a deal, and Kliavkoff has repeatedly expressed optimism about landing a lucrative deal in the first quarter of 2023, which would be followed, according to Kliavkoff, by exploration for expansion.

“We don’t know what will happen with PAC 12 at this point,” Leib said. “They were hurt by USC and then UCLA doing this [move] …but actually USC came first. There are indications that they could eventually get a very strong media deal, which would make Berkeley much better, so maybe the payout would be much less. It depends, it’s really hard to know. So we wanted to give ourselves a wide range.”

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