News of UCLA and USC’s departure from the Pac-12 for the Big Ten shook the collegiate sports landscape earlier this month, and it’s led to some squabbling from prominent public figures in the state. California Gov. Gavin Newsom is demanding answers from UCLA, as the Bruins prepare to leave university system partner Cal behind in the Pac-12 in 2024 amid the latest wave of conference realignment.
“The first duty of every public university is to the people, especially students,” Newsom said in a statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “UCLA must clearly explain to the public how this deal will improve the experience for all its student-athletes, will honor its century-old partnership with UC Berkeley, and will preserve the histories, rivalries, and traditions that enrich our communities.”
Cal and UCLA have been in the Pac-12 together since 1928 and are the two mos tvisible athletic brands in the UC system. For UCLA, the calculus behind the move is simple: the Bruins can use the promise of a cash windfall from the Big Ten’s media rights deal to solidify the footing of their financially shaky athletic department.
It appears that political options for keeping UCLA from making the move are limited. However, strife within the university system and state government could pose issues for UCLA down the line in regards to state funding and allocation of resources. Another possibility that has been raised, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, would require UCLA to share some of its TV revenue with Cal.
UCLA is likely to more than double its media rights payout after the conference transition, although the exact figures of the school’s annual payout from the Big Ten versus what it would be in the Pac-12 won’t be known until both leagues sign new media rights deals.