An open letter to politicians threatening to block UCLA’s move

Dear University of California Board of Trustees, especially those of you considering an eleventh-hour stonewalling of UCLA’s defection from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten:

Change is inevitable.

Your resistance is futile.

As you play politics and try to pass new university ordinances to prevent athletic directors and other administrators from making such important decisions and changes in the future, the wheels of progress are already turning in perpetual motion.

You and California Governor Gavin Newsome say your primary concern with UCLA’s departure from the Pac-12 is the negative consequences it would have on UCLA’s sister institution within the system of University of California, Cal-Berkeley. Even if that’s your real motivation – and I’m emphasizing “if” a lot since you’re all politicians, which is more than enough reason to suspect you of dishonest capitalization, let alone being an election year – then your cause is already a lost one.

You lament the millions of dollars in lost revenue-sharing funds that desertion from UCLA will cost Cal-Berkeley. But you fail to mention that USC will cost your institution much more when it leaves for the Big Ten, and, since Southern Cal is a private university, your bombast and clumsiness are useless there.

A report you commissioned to determine the effects UCLA’s move to the Big Ten will have on Cal-Berkeley proves that your so-called concerns are indolent and misplaced: USC’s divorce from the Pac-12 will cost the remaining league members, including Cal-Berkeley, about $10 million a year in lost revenue sharing. This figure – again, determined by your own people – as far as UCLA is concerned? Less than a third of that amount.

Even if your latest attempt to force UCLA to stay in the Pac-12 somehow succeeds, – spoiler alert: it won’t – Cal-Berkeley athletics finances would be still facing utter oblivion as a Pac-12 without USC is a conference on a collision course with insolvency.

And by forcing UCLA to stay put, you would seriously jeopardize the school’s athletic future. The genesis of this whole problem was the more than $100 million in debt currently plaguing the UCLA athletic department, which presented administrators with the stark reality of having to cut multiple entire programs to make ends meet.

But then the Big Ten came calling, with their deeper pockets and greener pastures, saving the Bruins’ athleticism with the kind of bailout that politicians like you like to hijack.

If you force UCLA to stay in the Pac-12, whether through esoteric college status or political intimidation, you will essentially be the author of the termination of several of the school’s athletic programs. You would also guarantee that two schools in your university system face athletic ruin instead of just one.

You would serve your constituents and your institutions better by investing your time and resources in other areas. The ones you’re better suited for, like virtue and corner signaling problems.


Those of us residing in reality

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Despite what it may seem, it’s not a particularly crushing blow for the Big Ten to be rejected by Notre Dame yet again. In fact, in a relatively short period of time, the tables could turn – it could be Notre Dame who needs the Big Ten.

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