Gavin Newsom demands UCLA publicly explain how leaving the Pac-12 will be beneficial
Perhaps he doesn’t have the ability to stop the move outright, but California Gov. Gavin Newsom is sure trying to make the experience as uncomfortable as possible for UCLA.
Newsom, an ex-officio member of the Board of Regents for the University of California, joined the Board in San Francisco this week during a closed-door discussion on the topic of UCLA’s decision to leave the Pac-12 in 2024 and join the Big Ten. The news, which Newsom said recently he nor anyone else on the UC Board was privy to prior to its announcement, sent shockwaves through the UC system. The Bruins will be breaking from UC Berkeley, a move that figures to significantly damage Cal’s financial outlook.
In a statement, Newsom demanded UCLA publicly explain how the move will not only be beneficial for its student-athletes, but how it will honor its relationship with Cal.
“The first duty of every public university is to the people—especially students,” Newsom said. “UCLA must clearly explain to the public how this deal will improve the experience for all its student-athletes, will honor its century-old partnership with UC Berkeley, and will preserve the histories, rivalries, and traditions that enrich our communities.”
According to ESPN, UCLA said it would not comment on Newsom’s remarks, but the benefit to the Bruins’ program here is painstakingly obvious.
As a fully-vested member of the Big Ten, UCLA stands to receive something in the neighborhood of $100 million annually from the league’s media rights distributions. When UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond took over the department, he inherited an operating deficit. The Bruins’ debt only grew during the COVID season of 2020.
“Each school faces its own unique challenges and circumstances, and we believe this is the best move for UCLA at this time,” Jarmond and chancellor Gene Block wrote in a letter announcing the move. “For us, this move offers greater certainty in rapidly changing times and ensures that we remain a leader in college athletics for generations to come.”
The letter also mentions that UCLA moving to the Big Ten will preserve and maintain “all 25 current teams and more than 700 student-athletes in our program.”
According to The Associated Press, the UC regents don’t have legal standing to stop the move. In 1991, campus chancellors in the system were delegated the authority by the UC Office of the President to execute individual contracts, including intercollegiate athletic agreements.
The UC Board of Regents could, according to the Los Angeles Times, look into imposing an exit fee UCLA would have to pay to UC Berkeley or forcing the Bruins to share Big Ten TV revenue with UC Berkeley.