LOS ANGELES – California Governor Gavin Newsom is demanding an explanation from UCLA officials about his move to the Big Ten Conference.
Newsom attended Wednesday’s UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco. The closed-door meeting was the first since UCLA and Southern California announced June 30 that the schools would be leaving the Pac-12 Conference for the Big Ten in 2024. USC is a private institution and is not part of the UC system.
Newsom, an ex officio member of the Board of Regents, wonders, among other things, how the measure will benefit all student-athletes, and how to mitigate the financial effects it will have on UC Berkeley, the other California public university in the Pacific. 12. .
UCLA and UC Berkeley have met in football since 1923.
“The first duty of any public university is to the people, especially the students,” Newsom said in a statement. “UCLA must clearly explain to the public how this agreement will enhance the experience for all of its student-athletes, honor its century-old partnership with UC Berkeley, and preserve the histories, rivalries and traditions that enrich our communities.”
The UC Board of Regents cannot force UCLA to reverse the decision. In 1991, the UC President’s Office delegated authority to campus chancellors to execute their own contracts, including intercollegiate athletic agreements.
However, the regents could require UCLA to pay UC Berkeley an exit fee for leaving the Pac-12 or to share in the television revenue they will earn from moving to the Big Ten.
UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on June 30 that changes in the college athletics landscape prompted the move. UCLA’s athletics department, which sponsors 23 sports, faces a $102.8 million deficit, most of it from the past two years.
“They are going to compete at the highest level in a major elite conference across different time zones, UCLA is always national. But now we have the ability for student athletes to showcase their talent across the country,” Jarmond said. “I appreciate the Pac-12. With that being said, my, my first and foremost focus is on our student-athletes, and what’s best for our student-athletes. And when you look at the landscape and how the dynamic is changing, Big Ten was the right move at the right time for us.”