UCLA must clearly explain the Big Ten decision, California Governor Gavin Newsom demands

California Governor Gavin Newsom is calling on UCLA to provide a public explanation for the school’s decision to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten along with the Crosstown competitor USC in 2024. Newsom maintains that UCLA, a member of nine campuses, is In the University of California system, he owes the public with explaining how the decision to reorganize will improve student-athletes as well as how to preserve long-standing traditions and partnerships, such as that with fellow UC Berkeley Pac-12 member.

Newsom said in University of California Board of Regents meeting Wednesday, via the Los Angeles Times. “UCLA must clearly explain to the public how this deal will improve the experience for all of its student-athletes, honor its century-old partnership with UC Berkeley, and preserve the histories, competitions, and traditions that enrich our communities.”

Newsom, who oversees and appoints the Board of Regents for the University of California System, previously said in an interview with FOX 11 Los Angeles that UCLA officials did not provide any advance warning to the board of governors about the Big Ten’s decision. Newsom described the decision as “implemented in isolation” and without “oversight or support” from the stewards.

“I read about it (that’s how I learned),” Newsom said in the interview. “Not a big deal. I’m the governor of California. But maybe the biggest deal is that I’m the chair of the University of California board of governors. I read about it. Is it a good idea? Do we have a chance to discuss the advantages or disadvantages of (the resolution)? I don’t know anyone has done that.” So it was done in isolation. It was done without supervision or support from a guardian. It was done without any regard for my science.”

Newsom, in an interview with FOX 11, proceeded to call out the Bruins’ athletic department for lacking “the decency to deliver an alert” and vowed that UCLA governors would continue to investigate the matter.

“Maybe there were deep, in-depth conversations with other presidents, or rather with advisors and chiefs in the system,” Newsom added. “And (there is) an impact more broadly, not just on the University of California system but on other universities including Stanford University and the Cal State system… I have strong opinions on this for no other reason than that as a member of the Regents, we have never been consulted , and we never asked for an opinion, and they didn’t even have the tact to give a heads up. Believe me when I say this: We’re not going to look into it. We’re really looking into it from the inside (and it was) minutes after reading about this in the paper.”

While money and television contracts are the driving force behind the conference reorganization, the financial boost UCLA is set to receive by joining the Big Ten is much needed by the sports department. The Los Angeles Times reported earlier in July that the Bruins’ athletics division had accumulated $102.8 million in debt in the past three fiscal years and was at risk of being cut off from the sport. But by joining the Big Ten, the Bruins will transition into a league that could top $100 million in payouts annually for the next decade.

Senior UCLA officials, including athletic director Martin Garmond, said in a June 30 statement that the Big Ten move will ensure UCLA’s long-term ability to support and sustain various athletic programs, even at the expense of increased travel given UCLA and USC’s position as the West. Coastal teams in the league centered in the Midwest.

“Entry into the Big Ten will also help ensure that UCLA maintains and maintains all 25 current teams and more than 700 student-athletes in our program,” the statement read. Additionally, it means enhanced resources for all of our teams, from academic support to mental health and wellness. And while this move increases travel distances for teams, the resources offered by Big Ten membership may allow for more efficient transportation options. Explore scheduling accommodations With the Big Ten that better supports the academic pursuits of student-athletes.”

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USC and UCLA are not the first group of longtime NCAA competitors to announce a move to a new conference within the past year. Texas and Oklahoma, the founding members of the Big 12 conference, announced last summer that they would leave the Big 12 for the SEC in 2025 in a move that launched the latest wave of conference reorganization.

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