UCLA aims to clear final hurdle for move from Pac-12 to Big Ten with UC Regents meeting Thursday

The last obstacle before UCLA and the Pac-12 can go their separate ways is turning into a mountain hike. UCLA officials will meet with the University of California Regents in a meeting Thursday that is expected to decide the school’s ability to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten.

The UC Regents, as well as California Governor Gavin Newsom, were upset that they were not notified before UCLA announced its move to the Big Ten (along with USC) on June 30. Big Ten – by fans, politicians and some of the Regents.

Unlike USC, a private institution, UCLA was public and part of the UC system with California considered its sister school. Those UC regents increasingly asserted authority to block the transfer. This is their fourth meeting on the matter since that June 30 decision.

“The Regents have the power to overturn UCLA’s decision,” California Senator Nancy Skinner told CBS Sports. Skinner is not a regent. “They’re the ones who created the rule that gave UCLA autonomy [to leave]. They can take back that autonomy if they want to. I don’t know if they will.”

UCLA officials are confident their move to the Big Ten will eventually be approved. However, they feel the urgency to fix the issue as the early signing period in football starts on 21 December. There are UCLA prospects being recruited across all sports lured by the prospect of playing in the Big Ten. USC and UCLA are expected to join the league in 2024.

“When [the move is] revenue-driven, college-driven … they’re money-blind,” Skinner said. ‘They’re money-driven versus student needs.’

Skinner said the results of the regents’ meeting will inform her about next steps. The powerful senator essentially started the NIL movement when she introduced California Senate Bill 206 (the Fair Pay to Play Act) in 2019.

The New York Times first reported that Skinner was concerned about travel pressures on UCLA athletes colliding with the NCAA’s 20-hour workweek. This rule limits the amount of time an athlete can devote to their sport each week. Travel time to and from the away competition does not count. Projections are that some USC and UCLA athletes will fly five-hour one-way flights across the country to play Big Ten schools like Rutgers and Maryland.

Back in July, Big Ten football consultant Barry Alvarez had informally suggested the idea of ​​”jamborees” in which minor sports would stay a certain number of days in the East playing more games.

“It’s not a real rule if your students are dedicating 30 hours a week, or more, to their sport,” Skinner said. “Not all students have a full academic scholarship. Let’s say they want to have a part-time job as well. When do they fit into their academics?”

Ironically, the Pac-12 in 2015 released a large study which concluded that its athletes are spending 50 hours a week in their sport and are “too exhausted to study effectively.”

Even though it’s a very large league, the Pac-12 has the advantage of being regional travel partners. During the basketball season, the Pac-12 men’s and women’s teams travel through Los Angeles playing USC and UCLA with similar scheduling against Arizona and Arizona State, Cal and Stanford, as well as Washington and Washington State.

In terms of the UC system, Cal is most impacted in this discussion as a fellow Pac-12 member. Some have suggested that the Regents would be appeased if UCLA simply agreed to pay Cal a portion of its Big Ten windfall to make up for lost conference revenue.

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff said UCLA will lose money by moving to the Big Ten. This is despite all projections that the school’s media rights revenue will more than double in the Big Ten by comparison.

One solution might be Kliavkoff orchestrating a move to give UCLA a larger stake if it wants in the Pac-12. Lecture schools currently split media rights revenue equally. The problem: His conference doesn’t have a media rights deal in place to even make those accounts on uneven division. CBS Sports reported last week that the league is expected to reach an agreement with ESPN and a streaming service, such as Amazon, by early 2023.

There is probably no amount of money that can influence UCLA to stay in the Pac-12 at this point. The Big Ten payout from the new media rights deal signed in August is expected to be around $75 million a year. Pac-12 teams earned $34.3 million per school annually in fiscal 2020.

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