In a letter to the University of California’s Board of Regents, Thursday before a closed door discussion UCLAPac-12 Commissioner George Klivkoff, who is slated to move to the Big Ten Conference, listed “significant concerns” with the move, including student-athlete mental health, increased travel and operating costs, and negative impacts on Cal’s revenue and UC system’s climate goals.
Klivacoff’s letter was submitted in response to a request from the governors for the conference’s comment on UCLA’s action, a source said.
“Despite all explanations given after the fact, UCLA’s decision to join the Big Ten was financially motivated after UCLA’s athletic department accumulated more than $100 million in debt over the past three fiscal years,” Kliavkoff said.
From there, he made the case that UCLA’s revenue was fully offset by increased travel costs, the need for competitive salaries in the Big Ten, and game guarantee costs.
“UCLA currently spends approximately $8.1 million annually in travel expenses for its teams to compete in the Pac-12 Conference,” Kliavkoff said. “UCLA would increase the team’s travel expenses 100% if it flew in the Big Ten ($8.1 million per year increase), 160% if it occupied half the time ($13.1 million per year), and 290% if it hosted every flight (23 million per year increase).
Klivekoff did not say how those figures were calculated or whether there was any real belief that UCLA would consider charter travel for teams other than football and basketball.
According to a source with knowledge of UCLA’s internal considerations about the increase in travel costs, the school is looking at the Big Ten vs. The Pac-12 is operating with the expectation of spending $6-10 million more per year.
Moving to the Big Ten, Kliavkoff speculated, would also cost UCLA more to comply with conference rules for salaries. In order for UCLA to reach the Big Ten average, UCLA’s athletic department estimates it would need to increase its payroll by about $15 million.
“Any financial gains UCLA would get from joining the Big Ten would go to airline and charter companies, managers and coaches’ salaries and other recipients, rather than providing additional resources to student-athletes,” Klevkoff said.
A UCLA spokeswoman declined comment.
as if An interview with the New York Times“There’s no decision, I think everyone is gathering information, it’s an evolving situation,” said UC President Michael V. Drake, a former Ohio State president.
Beyond UCLA’s financial impact, which is widely understood to be the main driving factor in UCLA’s move to the Big Ten, Kliavkoff said it hurts Cal, which, like UCLA, is dominated by the UC system. Media rights negotiations are ongoing, Kliavkoff said it was difficult to describe the exact impact without revealing confidential information, but confirmed that the conference is asking for bids with UCLA and in the fold.
In addition to the increased travel finances, Klivekoff said “media research published by the National Institutes of Health, studies conducted by the NCAA and discussions with our own student-athlete leaders” can have a negative impact on the mental health of student-athletes. and avoid their academic interests. He added that facing cross-country trips to see UCLA teams play would be a burden for families and alumni.
Ultimately, Kliavkoff said the increased travel is inconsistent with the UC System’s climate goals and UCLA’s commitment to “climate neutrality” by 2025.