UCLA will need to provide answers to California Governor Gavin Newsom on why the school chose to leave the Pac-12 Conference for the Big Ten starting in 2024.
Newsom was present at the UC Board of Regents gathering Wednesday in San Francisco, the first Board of Regents meeting since UCLA and USC announced their moves to the Big Ten Conference.
Newsom announced on Wednesday that UCLA will have to explain how the move away from the Pac-12 will benefit the student-athletes, as well as how the move will impact UC Berkeley.
“The first duty of every public university is to the people – especially students,” Newsom said in a statement. “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.”
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UC Berkeley and UCLA are the two public universities in the Pac-12 and have played each other in football since 1923.
While the Board of Regents will not be able to force UCLA to reverse its decision, they could force UCLA to pay UC Berkeley an exit fee or share its TV revenues from the Big Ten.
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In late June, USC and UCLA were approved to join the Big Ten Conference starting in 2024, as the world of college athletics continues to be impacted by conference realignment. Unlike UCLA, USC is a private institution and is not a member of the UC school system, thus not subject to the same rules as the Bruins.
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“They’re gonna compete at the highest level in a major elite conference in different time zones, UCLA is always national,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said following UCLA’s announcement of the move to the Big Ten. “But now we have the ability for student athletes to showcase their talent across the country,” Jarmond said. “I appreciate the Pac-12. That said, my, my focus first and foremost is our student athletes, and what is best for our student athletes. And when you look at the landscape and how dynamic is changing, the Big Ten was the right move at the right time for us.”
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The decision by UCLA and USC to depart the Pac-12 conference for the Big Ten comes more than a year after Oklahoma and Texas announced their intention to join the SEC in 2025, kicking off the latest round of conference realignment in college athletics.
The Associated Press contributed to this report