UCLA’s move to the Big Ten appears to be far from a done deal.
The University of California Board of Regents will discuss the school’s proposed move from the Pac-12 in a closed session at its upcoming meeting on Sept. 22 at 10 a.m., according to the agenda posted on its website. The subject is listed as UCLA Big Ten Membership – Potential Legal Issues and Financial Impacts.
UCLA and USC were unanimously approved as Big Ten members on June 30, with the move slated to come into effect in August 2024.
UCLA’s departure specifically has been met with resistance from both the UC regents and California Governor Gavin Newsom, who was critical of the school’s lack of transparency and demanded an explanation for their reasoning.
Both parties expressed concern over how the LA school leaving would impact other UC campuses.
In a recent open session discussion on UCLA’s plans, general counsel Charles Robinson made it clear that the Regents had the authority to block the move by withdrawing the authority over conference membership delegated to each chancellor.
“For this particular matter, the regents could say, ‘We want to act and therefore we do not want the (UC) president or the (campus) chancellors to act in this area,’ and simply assert that,” Robinson said, according to The Mercury News.
While blocking UCLA’s move to the Big Ten is something that the Regents have the power to do, it would set a precedent that could have significant blowback.
As John Sandbrook, who was the chief of staff to former UC President Mark Yudof and a longtime UCLA assistant chancellor under Charles Young, said in a LA Times article in July:
“If the regents set the precedent that any action taken under delegations of authority can be undone by the board, any loan agreement for a new campus building, the acceptance of a gift, the naming of a building — all of those matters would then be subject to question.”
UCLA’s departure would result in a significant financial loss for the Pac-12, primarily due to the school’s campus being located in such a massive media market like Los Angeles.
Some have proposed that the Regents could insist that UCLA use its revenue distributions from the Big Ten to reimburse Cal for any losses incurred.
If I could guess what punitive action the UC Regents takes, UCLA could be required to share a portion of Big Ten TV revenue to Cal to offset financial damages from a diminished Pac deal.
If Cal joined the B1G, that value would be zero. So UCLA should support a Cal B1G invite.
— Avinash Kunnath (@avinashkunnath) September 12, 2022
The Bruins are expected to receive $75 million annually in media revenue from the Big Ten. Pac-12 schools could be left with just $35 million annually if UCLA leaves.