UC Regents plan to discuss UCLA’s move to Big Ten at upcoming meeting
UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond stands on the sidelines during a football game. (Jeremy Chen/Assistant Photo editor)
UCLA’s conference fate could officially be decided Thursday.
The University of California Board of Regents will discuss the school’s move to the Big Ten at its meeting at UC San Francisco Mission Bay. The regents have the ability to “affirm, overturn, or abstain” UCLA’s decision if they reach consensus in the meeting’s open session.
In advance of the meeting, the UC Office of the President and UCLA sent a document to the UC Regents on Tuesday. The document featured a survey that included financial implications for the move as well as surveys of student-athletes on the change in conference.
“The considerations around the student-athlete experience, financial impacts, and legal risks vary with each of these options,” the report said. “Specific considerations carrying financial or litigation risk will have been discussed in the noticed closed session discussion item.”
UCLA announced its surprise departure from the Pac-12 on June 30, and the board has discussed the move in its three meetings since then in July, August and September. The November meeting will be the first that features the conference move as an action item.
The document said the student-athlete experience will be the chief deciding factor, with travel time, competitiveness of rivalries and media exposure and its effect on name, image and likeness as contributing factors. UCLA’s relationship with UC sister school California will also be considered.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and athletic director Martin Jarmond, the two leads in the move, are expected to be in attendance at the meeting.
UCLA Athletics is currently in over $100 million worth of debt, with a net loss of $62.5 million in 2021. The proposed move to the Big Ten is set to bring in over $60 million per year for each member school after the conference struck a new seven-year media rights deal worth over $7 billion in August.
It was reported that UCLA faced the prospect of cutting some of its Olympic sports if it didn’t make the move to the Big Ten. The school estimated that it could save $11 million by cutting around six sports and eliminating scholarships for eight other programs.
But the move to the Big Ten is also expected to add costs related to travel, nutrition, academic support and mental health services. In the report, UCLA estimated spending an additional $9.15 million to $10.32 million annually on such costs. Travel represents the bulk of those estimated costs at up to nearly $6 million in additional travel costs per year.
Some proposals to reduce such travel costs have included UCLA and USC sharing chartered flights to the Midwest and the East Coast.
In the survey results from 111 student-athletes, travel proved to be the issue they were most concerned about. 77% of respondents – including 65% of men and 83% of women – reported increased travel times as a concern if UCLA moves to the Big Ten.
The other top four concerns of student-athletes were missed class times, travel/competition in colder weather, impact on mental health and impact on physical health, respectively. In all five of the top categories, women expressed more concern than men did.
Forty-six percent of women compared to 16% of men surveyed expressed concern about the move impacting mental health, while 54% of women relative to 16% said they were concerned about it impacting physical health.
Overall, 35% of the surveyed student-athletes said the move to the Big Ten would be a good idea, 20% said they had no opinion, 38% said they would need more information and 7% responded that it would be a bad idea.