UC regents blocking UCLA’s move to Big Ten could have fallout

Any attempt by University of California governors to block UCLA’s move to the Big Ten could jeopardize the way the governing body does business, according to a longtime observer of governors with experience of their inner workings.

The Observer told the Times that attempting to thwart a business transaction duly carried out by a university chancellor under his delegation of authority could have a chilling effect on future transactions of any kind with third parties for all 10 UC campuses.

“Other members of the Council of Regency need to stop and think about this for a moment,” the Observer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he did not want to publicly reveal past ties to the Regents.

Two governors told the Times Wednesday that they believe their governing body retains the authority to prevent UCLA from leaving the Pac-12 in 2024, although they did not say the authority would be exercised.

“All options are on the table,” said Regent John Perez.

Regents have raised concerns about how UCLA’s move — alongside in-city rival USC — could beat UC Berkeley financially while increasing the burden on UCLA athletes due to the travel burden associated with attending a conference, stretching from one coast to the other.

When UCLA announced its intention to break up for the Big Ten in late June, Chancellor Gene Block and athletic director Martin Jarmond touted the move’s ability to strengthen its athletic department amid a rapidly changing collegiate athletic landscape. The move would come with tremendous financial benefits, expand the school’s recruiting base, and create a level of prestige that continued membership in the Pac-12 would not match.

Debate over UCLA’s ability to unilaterally switch conferences centers on a 1991 UC systems policy that gave campus chancellors the authority to execute their own contracts, including intercollegiate athletic agreements. Charlie Robinson, general counsel for the UC system, said during Wednesday’s regents meeting that the chief executive could replace that authority.

“One mechanism would be for the [regent] To tell the CEO, “I’m directing you to step down in this case,” Robinson said, “and the board will exercise authority in this area.”

To guard against similar dilemmas in the future, the leadership of the UC system has proposed new rules that could prevent the campus from making important decisions related to sports contracts itself. Regents are expected to vote on the proposal at their September meeting in San Diego.

The longtime observer said he could recall only two instances where UC Regents overturned or modified actions by a university chancellor or president under existing delegations of authority.

In 1970, the Board of Regents reversed UCLA Chancellor Charles Young’s decision to reinstate Angela Davis as an associate assistant professor of philosophy after she identified herself as a member of the Communist Party.

In 1996, the Board of Regents informally asked UC President Dick Atkinson to reverse his decision to delay the implementation of affirmative action resolutions by a year.

The Observer questioned whether the Regents had the legal authority to retroactively reverse Block’s decision, which had been communicated to Michael V. Drake, the UC System President. Furthermore, the observer wondered if the regents did not intend to create the kind of chaos that intervention in the matter would cause.

“If the Regents set the precedent that any action taken under delegations of authority can be reversed by the Board,” the Observers said, “every loan agreement for a new campus building, the acceptance of a gift, the designation of a building — all of these matters would then be called into question.”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2022-08-18/blocking-ucla-move-to-big-ten-could-have-fallout-for-uc-regents UC regents blocking UCLA’s move to Big Ten could have fallout

Emma Bowman

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