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Pac-12 commissioner blasts UCLA’s move to Big Ten as attempt to clear up ‘$100 million in debt’

Jason Burgos
ucla, pac 12
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The commissioner of the Pac-12 is attempting to block UCLA’s move to the Big Ten in 2024 and blasted the university in a letter sent this week to the University of California Board of Regents.

On Thursday, the New York Times broke the news that Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff send a three-page letter to the board of regents “to provide facts and context” on how UCLA’s switch to the Big Ten conference will affect the conference and university’s student-athletes in the years to come. In June, it was first reported that both UCLA and USC — two legendary programs in the Pac-12 — had begun the process to leave for the Big Ten in 2024.

In the scathing letter, Kliavkoff claimed Bruins’ decision to move their sports programs, after being in the conference since 1928, “will damage the fabric, century-old history, rivalries and familial ties of the Pac-12.”

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The letter breaks down why it hopes the board can overturn the decision into five categories, including the “hardship for the families of UCLA student-athletes,” the “significant negative impact on UCLA expenses,” and the “significant negative impact on Pac-12, and by extension” on UC Berkley revenue.

Pac-12 commish claims Big Ten move will increase UCLA’s expenses

ucla, pac 12
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In the letter, that ESPN reported was requested by the board to get perspective from the conference on the school’s move, Kliavkoff slammed the university’s decision as completely motivated by money after poor financial decisions have put the athletic program in massive debt.

“Despite all the explanations made after the fact, UCLA’s decision to join the Big Ten was clearly financially motivated after the athletic department managed to accumulate more than $100 million in debt over the past three fiscal years.”

pac-12 commissioner on UCLA move to big ten

However, the conference boss alleges that despite the expected increase in revenue by being a part of the Big Ten, UCLA will only incur bigger costs as they play games in locales much further away than what they currently deal with in their current conference.

“UCLA currently spends approximately $8.1 million per year on travel for its teams to compete in the Pac-12 conference. UCLA will incur a 100% increase in its team travel costs if it flies commercial 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 a 290% increase if it charters every flight ($23 million increase per year).”

In August, it was reported that the board believes they have the power to block the move if considered necessary. California Governor Gavin Newsom has blasted the decision to move and its effect on the revenue of other Pac-12 schools like UC Berkely.