Advocacy group asks UC regents to block UCLA’s move to Big Ten

A new voice has joined the small but vocal chorus opposing UCLA’s move to the Big Ten Conference.

Ramogi Huma, a former Bruins linebacker who serves as executive director of the National College Players Assn. , sent a letter to the regents of the University of California on Wednesday, urging them to block UCLA’s planned exit from the Pac-12 conference in August 2024.

Huma described the move as a “short-sighted cash grab” that would hurt collegiate athletes, citing academic, racial and psychological concerns, while claiming that athletic director Martin Jarmond would lead a tiny group of beneficiaries.

“Not all money is good money,” Huma wrote. “The Regents should not allow a handful of people to sell the soul of UCLA’s athletics programming for TV dollars spent on luxury stadium boxes and lavish salaries for a select few.”

Huma’s letter comes as Regents prepare to deliver their verdict on UCLA’s departure during a December 14 meeting at the school; Regents have said they have the power to block the move and have spent the past few months balancing their concerns about the welfare of athletes and the negative impact it will have on UC Berkeley against the financial windfall fueling UCLA’s exodus would accompany for the Big Ten.

In addition to echoing some of the concerns raised by Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff, who cited the strain of increased travel and missed class time as reasons for UCLA to stay put, Huma added a racial component. The letter said the graduation rate among UCLA’s black athletes is 50%, compared to 73% for all black students, adding that athletes make up 28% of the school’s black male population, as opposed to white male athletes , which make up only 2% of the population of this racial and gender group.

“Allowing UCLA to move into the Big Ten will affect 28% of all black male students,” Huma wrote, “compared to just 2% of all white male students.”

The letter also cited the state graduation rate for the school’s baseball players as 67%.

“Given this data, there is nothing UCLA can do to justify moving to the Big Ten,” Huma wrote. “UCLA’s move to the Big Ten is nothing more than a cash grab that will amplify the long-standing racial exploitation of UCLA’s black male students.”

According to the letter, among the most affected athletes would be those from low-income households who cannot afford airline tickets and hotel stays for family members necessitated by membership of a coast-to-coast conference.

Additionally, the letter said, the Bruins’ chances of winning conference titles would decrease in a 16-team conference versus a 12-team conference, which would increase the frequency of coaching changes and lead to more buyouts, like the round $12 million that UCLA coach Jim Mora gave after his release in 2017.

Regarding UCLA’s claim that it would have to cut back on Olympic sports should it remain in the Pac-12, the letter said the school’s athletic department would consider other areas, such as the lavish buyouts and $5.4 million, she once spent on football meals in a fiscal year.

“UCLA doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem,” Huma wrote. “UCLA is fully capable of preserving all sports if they stay in the Pac-12. If the Regents are concerned that UCLA may shut down the sport if the Big Ten’s move is blocked, the Regents should block UCLA’s ability to shut down the sport rather than allow UCLA to move its entire sports program to games on the other side of the country to draw.

While acknowledging that Big Ten membership would generate additional revenue—some estimates suggest UCLA would rake in between $65 million and $75 million in media rights revenue in its first year alone—Huma questioned where that money would go, and listed the athletic director, soccer coach, and men’s basketball coach without naming them directly.

“It will also result in the additional hiring of ever-expanding sports administration staff,” Huma wrote, alluding to UCLA acknowledging it would need to spend at least $10 million more for improved nutrition, travel, academic support and mental health services to provide . “It will benefit construction companies who are going to build the next gilded facility.”

The letter also encouraged Regents to impose geographic restrictions on conference membership to avoid many of the problems the school faces. Citing statistics from a recent UCLA survey, the letter said 38% of the school’s athletes were concerned about not having enough information to determine whether the proposed conference change was good or bad.

“I don’t think the UCLA athletes have the factual information contained in this letter, but I’m sure most or all have heard UCLA’s statement that moving the conference is a good thing,” Huma wrote. “The Regents should consider this before making a decision.” Advocacy group asks UC regents to block UCLA’s move to Big Ten

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