In a letter provided to the UC Board of Regents ahead of Thursday’s closed session to discuss UCLA’s proposed move to the Big Ten conference, Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliawkoff detailed the “significant concerns” he had about the move, including with students. -athlete mental health, increased transportation and operational costs, and a negative impact on both Cal’s revenue and the climate goals of the UC system.
Kliwakov’s letter was provided in response to a regents’ request for the conference’s perspective on UCLA’s move, the source said.
“Despite all the explanations made after the fact, UCLA’s decision to join the Big Ten was clearly financially motivated, as UCLA’s athletic department managed to accumulate more than $100 million in debt over the past three fiscal years,” Kliawkoff wrote.
From this, he concluded, the increased revenue UCLA would receive would be fully offset by the increased costs associated with increased travel, the need for competitive salaries in the Big Ten, and the cost of guaranteeing a game.
“UCLA spends approximately $8.1 million a year on travel for its Pac-12 teams,” Kliawkoff said. “UCLA will see a 100% increase in its team travel costs if it flies commercially in the Big Ten (an increase of 8.1 million per year), a 160% increase if it charters half the time (13 .1 million dollars per year), and a 290% increase if he charters every flight ($23 million per year).”
Kliawkoff did not cite how those numbers were calculated or indicate whether there was any real belief that UCLA would consider charter trips for teams other than football and basketball.
According to a source familiar with UCLA’s internal estimates of the increased travel costs, the school estimates it will spend about $6 million to $10 million more per year on travel in the Big Ten against the Pac-12.
Kliavkov suggested that the move to the Big Ten would also result in UCLA spending more on salaries to meet conference norms. UCLA would need to increase its athletic department salaries by about $15 million to reach the Big Ten average, he estimated.
“Any financial gains that UCLA receives from joining the Big Ten will ultimately go toward airline and charter costs, salaries for administrators and coaches and other recipients, not to provide additional resources for student-athletes,” Kliawkoff said.
A UCLA representative declined to comment.
In an interview with the New York Times, University of California President Michael W. Drake, formerly Ohio State’s president, said: “No solutions. I think everyone collects information. This is a changing situation.”
Aside from the financial implications for UCLA, which is believed to be the main driver behind UCLA’s move to the Big Ten, Kliawkoff said it would also hurt Cal, which, like UCLA, is also controlled by the UC system. With media rights negotiations ongoing, Kliawkoff said it’s difficult to release the exact impact without divulging confidential information, but confirmed that the conference is accepting applications from and without UCLA.
In addition to the financial component of the additional travel, Klyawkoff said “published media studies from the National Institutes of Health, studies conducted by the NCAA and discussions with our student-athlete leaders” will have a negative impact on the mental health of student-athletes. and take them away from academic pursuits. He added that it will also be a burden for family and alumni to travel across the country to see UCLA teams play.
Finally, Kliawkoff said the added travel runs counter to the UC system’s climate goals and conflicts with UCLA’s commitment to be “climate neutral” by 2025.