On Wednesday, the University of California Board of Regents approved the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) move to the Big Ten Conference. With the approval, UCLA will leave the Pac-12 Conference and join the Big Ten in 2024.
In June, UCLA and the University of Southern California (USC) announced they would move from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten in 2024. Since it is a private university, USC did not need approval from the Board of Regents.
Since the announcement, the Board of Regents has been reviewing UCLA’s move, including holding multiple meetings. Despite UCLA having the authority to contract with the Big Ten, the Board of Regents may affirm or overturn UCLA’s decision.
During its review, many of the Board of Regents’ concerns revolved around the student-athlete experience. Specifically, the Board of Regents raised concerns surrounding nutrition, mental health, and travel time.
Needing only majority approval, the Board of Regents approved the move 11 to 5. To combat the concerns, the Board of Regents approved the move with conditions, including increasing support for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. The support includes at least $1.5 million in academic support, $4.3 million in nutritional support, and $562,800 in mental health services.
Other conditions include establishing a $2.5 million reserve fund to supplement the aforementioned support and a contribution to the University of California, Berkeley after the Pac-12 finalizes its media agreement. The University of California, Berkeley will remain in the Pac-12.
With conference realignment expected to continue in the future, the Board of Regents’ decision is insight into decision-making that may occur in other systems.
For example, the University of North Carolina (UNC) and North Carolina State University (NCSU) are in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and part of the University of North Carolina System. Similar to the University of California System, University of North Carolina System institutions may enter into contracts and agreements, but the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina System may rescind the authority at any time (see N.C.G.S. 116-11(13)). Thus, if either UNC or NCSU were to leave the ACC without the other school, we could see the Board of Governors review the departing university’s decision or even rescind the decision.
The increased support from the Board of Regents’ decision is a victory for student-athletes attending UCLA. For UCLA, the support and contribution to Berkeley are minor payouts compared to the giant 7-year, $7 billion media rights deal the Big Ten recently inked. With the approval, UCLA will be heading to the Big Ten.