California Governor Gavin Newsom demands explanation for UCLA’s move to Big Ten

Gavin Newsom wants an explanation.

The California governor, who spoke at the UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco on Wednesday, demanded that UCLA publicly explain how its move to the Big Ten conference will benefit student-athletes and the school’s partnership with UC Berkeley.

“The first duty of every public university is to the people — especially the students,” Newsom said, via the Los Angeles Times. “UCLA must make it clear to the public how this agreement will enhance the experience of all of its student-athletes, honor its century-old partnership with UC Berkeley, and preserve the stories, rivalries and traditions that enrich our communities.”

UCLA and USC announced last month that they would move to the Big Ten in 2024, shocking the college football world and dramatically expanding the Big Ten’s footprint.

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USC, as a private university, is not part of the UC school system. UCLA is, which is why Newsom is speaking out. The move to the Big Ten put Berkeley and the Pac-12 conference at risk of losing millions in media rights revenue and more.

While Newsom wants an explanation, one advantage is already clear. The Big Ten’s next media rights deal is expected to be worth more than $1 billion. This will significantly help the Bruins’ athletic department, which is reportedly in debt and was on the verge of shutting down several sports altogether before the move.

“I inherited a deficit with UCLA’s athletics,” school athletic director Martin Jarmond told ESPN. “So when you have a significant financial challenge, it’s hard to just maintain, let alone invest. This decision not only preserves the programs we have now, but also allows us to invest in them at levels that can drive to more competitive success.”

It’s unclear whether UCLA will respond to Newsom’s request. The Athletics Department does not need to obtain permission from the UC system to move lectures. According to the report, there is talk of requiring UCLA to pay UC Berkeley an “exit fee” to leave the conference or even share television revenue in the future. It is not known if the university regents could impose such a fine.

“It’s more than sports and more than money,” Newsom’s top education adviser, Ben Chida, told The Times. “It’s a matter of public trust. It’s about the mental health of student-athletes. And it’s about honoring the partnerships, stories and traditions that have lasted a century.

California Governor Gavin Newsom

California Governor Gavin Newsom wants an explanation for UCLA’s move to the Big Ten. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

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