In a letter to the University of California board of trustees ahead of a closed session Thursday to discuss UCLA’s proposed move to the Big Ten conference, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff detailed the “significant concerns” he had with the move, including student-athlete mental health, increased travel and operating costs, and negative impacts on Cal’s revenue and the system’s climate goals CPU.
Klivakoff’s letter was provided in response to a request from the Regents regarding the conference’s views on the UCLA move, a source said.
“Despite all the explanations provided after the fact, UCLA’s decision to join the Big Ten was clearly financially motivated after the UCLA athletic department managed to rack up more than $100 million in debt over the past three last exercises,” Kliavkoff wrote.
From there, he argued that the increased revenue UCLA would receive would be completely offset by increased costs resulting from increased travel, the need for competitive salaries within the Big Ten, and expenses. game guarantee.
“UCLA currently spends about $8.1 million a year on travel for its teams to attend the Pac-12 conference,” Kliavkoff said. “UCLA will incur a 100% increase in travel costs for its team if it flies commercially in the Big Ten (8.1 million increase per year), a 160% increase if it charters half the time ($13.1 million per year), and 290% percent increase if he charters every flight ($23 million increase per year).”
Kliavkoff did not cite how those numbers were calculated or indicate whether there was any genuine belief that UCLA would consider charter trips for teams other than football and basketball.
According to a source familiar with UCLA’s internal estimates of rising travel costs, the school expects to spend about $6 million to $10 million more per year on trips to the Big Ten than to the Pac- 12.
A move to the Big Ten, Kliavkoff speculated, would also lead UCLA to spend more on salaries to meet conference standards. He estimated that UCLA would need to increase its athletic department salaries by about $15 million for UCLA to reach the Big Ten average.
“Any financial gains UCLA makes by joining the Big Ten will end up going to airlines and charters, administrator and coach salaries, and other beneficiaries rather than providing additional resources to student-athletes,” Kliavkoff said.
A UCLA spokesperson declined to comment.
In an interview with The New York Times, UC President Michael V. Drake, who previously served as Ohio State President, said, “No decision. I think everyone is gathering information . It’s an evolving situation.”
Beyond the financial impact for UCLA, which is widely seen as the biggest determining factor in UCLA’s move to the Big Ten, Kliavkoff said it will also hurt Cal, which, like UCLA, is also supervised by the UC system. With media rights negotiations ongoing, Kliavkoff said it’s difficult to disclose the exact impact without divulging confidential information, but confirmed the conference is seeking offers with and without UCLA in the fold.
Beyond the financial component of the additional trip, Kliavkoff said “published media research by the National Institutes of Health, studies conducted by the NCAA, and discussions with our own student-athlete leaders” will have a negative impact on the mental health of student-athletes. and withdraw from their academic activities. He added that it would also be a burden on family and alumni to face trips across the country to see UCLA teams play.
Finally, Kliavkoff said the additional travel is contrary to the climate goals of the UC system and goes against UCLA’s commitment to “climate neutrality” by 2025.