UCLA is looking to clear the final hurdle in Pac-12’s move to Big Ten, with the UC Regents set to meet Thursday

The final hurdle before UCLA and the Pac-12 can part ways turns into a mountain hike of sorts. UCLA officials will meet with the University of California regents at a meeting Thursday that is expected to decide the school’s ability to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten.

UC Regents, as well as California Gov. Gavin Newsom, were upset that they weren’t notified before UCLA announced its move into the Big Ten (alongside USC) on June 30 — by fans, politicians, and some of the regents.

Unlike USC, a private institution, UCLA is public and part of the UC system, with California considered a sister school. These UC regents have increasingly asserted the power to block the move. This is their fourth meeting on this subject since the 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 created the rule that gave UCLA autonomy [to leave]. They can regain this autonomy if they wish. I don’t know if they will.”

UCLA officials are confident their move to the Big Ten will ultimately be approved. However, they feel there is an urgent need to resolve the issue as football’s early signing period begins on December 21. There are UCLA prospects recruited in all sports who are lured by the prospect of playing in the Big Ten. USC and UCLA are scheduled to join the league in 2024.

“When [the move is] driven by income, by college… they’re blinded by money,” Skinner said. “They are driven by money compared to the needs of the students.”

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

The New York Times first reported that Skinner was concerned about the travel pressures on UCLA athletes, which go against 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 away competitions does not count. Some USC and UCLA athletes are forecast to make five-hour one-way flights across the country to play at Big Ten schools like Rutgers and Maryland.

Back in July, Big Ten football advisor Barry Alvarez had informally proposed the idea of ​​”jamborees,” where smaller sports would stay in the East for a few days and play multiple games.

“It’s not really a rule if you have your students put 30 hours a week or more into their sport,” Skinner said. “Not every student has a full academic scholarship. Let’s say he also wants to have a part-time job.

Ironically, the Pac-12 was released in 2015 extensive study That concluded that his athletes spend 50 hours a week in their sport and are “too exhausted to study effectively.”

Even if it’s a distant league, the Pac-12 has the advantage of regional travel partners. During basketball season, Pac-12 men’s and women’s teams play through Los Angeles and play USC and UCLA with similar dates against Arizona and Arizona State, Cal and Stanford, and Washington and Washington State.

Regarding the UC system, Cal is most affected by this discussion as a member of Pac-12. Some have suggested that if UCLA merely agreed to pay Cal a portion of its Big Ten money to offset lost conference revenue, Regents would be appeased.

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

One solution could be for Kliavkoff to orchestrate a move to give UCLA a larger stake in the Pac-12 if it chooses to do so. The conference schools currently split media rights revenues equally. The problem: His conference doesn’t have a media rights deal to do the math, even with an uneven split. CBS Sports reported last week that the league is expected to reach an agreement with ESPN and a streaming service like Amazon by early 2023.

There’s probably no amount of money that would make UCLA 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 annually. Pac-12 teams earned $34.3 million annually per school in fiscal year 2020.


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