In a letter to the University of California Board of Regents ahead of a closed session Thursday to discuss UCLA’s proposed move to the Big Ten conference, Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff described “significant concerns” he had with the relocation, including student-athlete mental health, increased travel and operating costs, and negative impacts on both Cal’s revenues and the UC system’s climate goals.
Klivakoff’s letter was provided in response to a request from the regents for the conference’s perspective on UCLA’s move, a source said.
“Despite all the explanations given in retrospect, UCLA’s decision to join the Big Ten was clearly financially motivated after UCLA’s athletics division accumulated more than $100 million in debt in the past three fiscal years,” it wrote. Kliavkoff.
From there, he claimed that the increased revenue UCLA will receive would be fully offset by the increased costs resulting from increased travel, the need for competitive salaries within the Big Ten, and game guarantee spending.
“UCLA currently spends about $8.1 million a year on travel for its teams to participate in the Pac-12 conference,” Kliavkoff said. UCLA will increase its team’s travel costs by 100% 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). year) and 290% percent more if it charters every flight (up from $23 million per year).”
Kliavkoff did not quote how those numbers were calculated or indicate whether there was a 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 increased travel costs, the school expects to spend about $6-10 million more per year on travel in the Big Ten versus the Pac-12.
A move to the Big Ten, Kliavkoff speculated, would also result in UCLA spending more on salaries in line with conference standards. He estimated that UCLA would have to increase athletic department salaries by about $15 million for UCLA to reach the Big Ten average.
“Any financial gain UCLA will make from joining the Big Ten will eventually go to airline and charter companies, administrator and coach salaries, and other recipients rather than providing additional funds to student athletes,” said Kliavkoff.
A UCLA spokesperson declined to comment.
In an interview with the New York Times, UC President Michael V. Drake, who was previously the president of the state of Ohio, said, “No decisions. I think everyone is gathering information. It’s a changing situation.”
In addition to the financial impact for UCLA, which is widely believed to be the main driving factor in UCLA’s move to the Big Ten, Kliavkoff said it will also hurt Cal, who, like UCLA, is also controlled by UC. -system. With media rights negotiations underway, Kliavkoff said it was difficult to disclose the exact impact without disclosing confidential information, but confirmed the conference is calling for bids with and without UCLA in the fold.
In addition to the financial component of the added travel, Kliavkoff said that “published media research by the National Institutes of Health, studies conducted by the NCAA, and discussions with our own student-athlete leaders,” will negatively impact student mental health. -athletes. and take them away from their academic pursuits. He added that it would also be a burden on family and alumni to take cross-country trips to watch UCLA’s teams play.
Finally, Kliavkoff said extra travel is against the UC system’s climate goals and against UCLA’s commitment to have “climate neutrality” by 2025.
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