George Kliavkoff (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff
expressed “significant concerns” about UCLA’s impending
move to the Big Ten in 2024.
Kliavkoff wrote a letter to the
University of California Board of Regents on Thursday, suggesting the
conference change will negatively impact student-athletes’ mental
health while also leading to increased travel and operational costs,
per ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura.
“Any financial gains UCLA will
achieve by joining the Big Ten will end up going to airline and
charter companies, administrators and coaches’ salaries and other
recipients rather than providing any additional resources for
student-athletes,” Kliavkoff said.
The Big Ten announced in June it voted
to accept UCLA and USC, a Pac-12 school that is a private university, as new members
beginning in August 2024.
Kliavkoff’s comments about the
potential negative impact on student-athletes are in direct contrast
with UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond, who said the move will
help Bruins players.
Jarmond explained on ESPN’s
SportsCenter in July (via Derek Peterson of Saturday Out West) the
increased “national exposure” from playing in games with more
reasonable start times for people in other time zones is a huge plus
for possible NIL deals.
“So, in a name, image and likeness
era, and a student-athlete finding their voice and their brand and
what’s important to them, this gives them a national platform, that
they can be seen in ways that we haven’t been able to,” Jarmond
He added: “We want to position our
student-athletes at UCLA to be the best and to be in a position of
Kliavkoff also stated UCLA faces a
minimum of a 100 percent increase in travel costs to play in the Big
Ten (up to $16.2 million from $8.1 million) and the overall cost
could rise to $31.1 million if the school relies solely on charter
flights rather than commercial.
Internally, the athletic department is
expecting an uptick in travel costs between $6 million and $10
million annually, per Bonagura.
A UCLA spokesperson declined comment to
ESPN about Kliavkoff’s letter.
It’s unclear whether the University of
California Board of Regents has any power to block the school’s planned conference
change amid meetings about the move.
UCLA and USC are among a growing number
of schools expected to change conferences over the next few years
amid widespread college sports realignment.
Losing two of its most storied programs
would be a major blow to the Pac-12, especially if it can’t find
suitable replacements amid the evolving landscape.