California Gov. Gavin Newsom demands UCLA explain publicly how leaving Pac-12 for Big Ten is beneficial

Following UCLA’s departure to join the Big Ten alongside USC, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday he is demanding an explanation on behalf of the public as to how the move will benefit not just student-athletes but U.S. history The Bruins partnered with UC Berkeley.

“The first duty of any public university is the people — especially the students,” Newsom said Wednesday at the UC San Francisco Board of Regents meeting, according to the Los Angeles Times. “UCLA must communicate clearly to the public how this deal will enhance the experience for all of its student-athletes, honor its century-old partnership with UC Berkeley, and preserve the histories, rivalries, and traditions that enrich our communities.”

UCLA said it would not comment on Newsom’s remarks Wednesday.

UCLA and USC’s announcement last month that they would join the Big Ten in 2024 came as a shock to the college football world, strengthening a conference and leaving the Pac-12 and its members in a vulnerable position. Meanwhile, Pac-12 has announced its willingness to expand and will begin negotiations for a new media rights agreement. While USC is a private institution, UCLA’s status as a public school caused a stir when it moved as a school to the University of California system.

“I read about it. Is it a good idea? Did we have a chance to discuss the merits? [of the decision]?” Newsom told Fox 11 Los Angeles last week. “I’m not aware of anyone doing this. It was therefore worked in isolation. It was carried out without governmental supervision or support. As far as I know, it was done without any consideration.”

The University of California said decisions related to athletics are executed at the campus level.

“UCLA leadership informed [University of California] president [Dr. Michael] Drake that talks were taking place between UCLA and the Big Ten, but he was not at all involved in those talks or negotiations,” a spokesman for the University of California President’s Office told ESPN in an email. “…Decisions related to athletics are formulated and implemented at the campus level. No decision by the University of California Board of Regents or the Office of the President is required.”

The financial benefits of moving to the Big Ten are obvious; Chief among them is what is expected to be an exorbitant TV rights deal that would help UCLA claw back a reported three-year debt of more than $100 million. It would also allow UCLA to keep Olympic sports.

“I inherited a deficit with UCLA athletics,” Bruins AD Martin Jarmond told ESPN after the announced move to the Big Ten. “So when you’re facing a significant financial challenge, it’s difficult to just sustain it, let alone invest. This move not only preserves the programs we have now, but also allows us to invest in them at a level that can lead to greater competitive success.”

In statements following the move’s announcement, Jarmond and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block also cited more notoriety — and with it, more name, image and likeness opportunities for UCLA athletes — as one of the various reasons the program made the move to the Big Ten.

But despite UCLA’s ability to make that decision itself, Newsom seems to think the knock-on effect for UC Berkeley — which will inevitably receive less money if the Pac-12’s media deal goes down in value — could be just as damaging as it was will be beneficial to UCLA.

According to the Times, one idea that has been circulated involves the Regents charging an exit fee that UCLA would have to pay to UC Berkeley, or in another case, UCLA matching the resulting Big Ten TV revenue with the UC Berkeley shares. California Gov. Gavin Newsom demands UCLA explain publicly how leaving Pac-12 for Big Ten is beneficial

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