One item on the University of California’s Board of Regents agenda for a meeting scheduled next week is to discuss UCLA’s move to the Big Ten, Jon Wilner of the Bay Area News Group reported Tuesday.
Both UCLA and USC are set to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024, a move that has started another round of conference realignment rumors and speculation in the college football world.
Wilner reported that the board will discuss UCLA and its move to the Big Ten as part of a closed session on July 21, and that litigation was mentioned in the description of the agenda item.
What could the UC Regents’ discussion be about?
It’s unclear exactly what direction the discussion will be headed, according to Wilner.
“Can the regents prevent UCLA from departing the Pac-12, along with USC, in the summer of 2024?” Wilner wrote.
“Or are the regents themselves facing litigation for allowing the Bruins to leave the conference that has been their home for more than a century?”
Wilner reported that, per a spokesperson for the UC Office of the President, the UC Regents board “had no authority to prevent UCLA’s move.”
What could it mean going forward?
Thus far, the 10 remaining members of the Pac-12, among them the University of Utah, have shown a united front in keeping the storied league together.
The league has announced it will explore expansion while also opening the window for media rights negotiation.
The Los Angeles Times reported that for UCLA, the move is expected to be a financial windfall for a Bruins athletic department that faced the prospect of having to cut programs.
“Over the last three fiscal years, UCLA’s athletic department had run up a $102.8-million deficit that figured only to worsen given the school’s sagging football attendance and paltry Pac-12 payouts that lagged behind its major conference counterparts,” the Times’ Ben Bolch wrote. “Now it’s conceivable that the Bruins could receive $100 million from the Big Ten per year if the expanded conference can snag the projected $1-billion media rights deal that’s set to begin in 2024.
“In the span of one or two years, UCLA’s deficit could become a surplus, its budget worries as much a relic as the Bruins residing in the Pac-12 South.”
There’s also the question of what it means for Cal-Berkeley, which along with UCLA are the highest-profile schools in the University of California system, according to ESPN.
“The mystery to me is how the regents allowed UCLA to go and leave Cal ... wounded,” a source told ESPN. “This is not good for Cal or anybody else in the Pac-10.”
Wilner reported that Cal chancellor Carol Christ was “blindsided” by news of UCLA’s move, along with USC, to the Big Ten.
“As a result, the Bears could experience a revenue reduction of at least $10 million annually, thereby jeopardizing their ability to support 28 Olympic and women’s sports (none of them are profitable),” Wilner wrote.