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Meeting Suggests UC Regents May Have a Say on UCLA's Departure

No action by UC Regents is specified, but impact on Cal is made pretty clear
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UC Office of the Presidents (UCOP) on Wednesday provided its "interim" report regarding the impact of UCLA's move from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten in 2024. 

You can read the entire report by clicking here

There is no news in this report as to actions the UC Regents might take regarding UCLA's move. The report is "intended to provide information and context in support of the Board’s discussion of UCLA’s plan to move from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten athletics conference in 2024."

However, an analysis by the San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner on the day's events, including the UC Regents' meeting following the issuing of the report, suggests the UC Regents may have the authority to have a say on UCLA's planned departure -- whether the Bruins can be prevented from leaving and whether Cal deserves some subsidies from a a UCLA departure.

Here is an excerpt from Wilner's report:

For all the half-answers and complete unknowns presented Wednesday at the University of California Board of Regents meeting about UCLA’s planned departure for the Big Ten, one thing was perfectly clear: This isn’t over.

From UC system president Michael Drake describing the impact report as an “interim” document to regent John A. Perez noting that the meeting was “a really good start to the conversation,” the governing body of the UC indicated it plans a deep dive into all aspects of UCLA’s move, including its impact on Cal.

It had been widely assumed that UCLA chancellor Gene Block had the authority to act on his own with regard to leaving the Pac-12.

But here's this tidbit from Wilner's report:

Charlie Robinson, the general counsel for the UC Office of the President, seemed to indicate the regents could withdraw the authority delegated to a chancellor.

It's still a guessing game as to what, if anything, the regents can or will do about UCLA's planned departure. But there is clearly an opinion that the regents might be able to do something, perhaps even prevent the UCLA move.

We'll let the UCOP report speak for itself for the most part, as it deals with the impact on UCLA athletes, the changing nature of college athletics, etc.

But we picked out a few excerpts, starting with this comparison of USC and UCLA value to the Pac-12:

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Beyond USC's departure, Pac-12 schools may experience an additional impact from UCLA's planned departure. Based on media estimates of UCLA's value to the Pac-12 and the yet-to-be-determined media rights deal, the impact of UCLA's departure is expected to be perhaps a third of USC's impact.  

In discussing the financial status of UCLA and Cal, the report included this:

Although UCLA has traditionally been a nearly balanced budget program, infrastructure investments and other one-time disruptions have combined to create a significant structural deficit in recent years. In 2021-22, the deficit was $28M.

Cal Athletics’ has also faced a sizable structural deficit in recent years. Prior to the 2019 implementation of a new budget agreement, Cal Athletics received approximately $24M in annual support from the central campus. In 2019, the Chancellor and Athletic Director developed a long-term financial agreement that would result in a decrease in institutional support that would level off at $13.35M by 2025.

Cal Athletics’ current long-range budget will come into balance if all projected revenue is realized, while strictly controlling expenses. The ongoing and significant impact of inflation, the impact of USC’s departure and UCLA’s potential departure, changing market conditions, and increased costs to remain competitive in recruiting, developing, and retaining student-athletes, create a very challenging budgetary environment for the program.

I find this phrase interesting: " . . . USC's departure and UCLA's potential departure . . ."

And this:

UCLA and Berkeley are the two UC campuses that compete in the Pac-12 as their primary conference. As is true with all programs, they both routinely participate in out-of-conference competition as well. UCLA’s planned departure from the Pac-12 would nevertheless herald a new era for both schools. Familiar opponents, games, and traditions, some going back decades, would change as conference alignments change. The converse is also true, of course; as old relationships evolve, new ones form. 

Included in the report are proposals on how the regents will delegate authority regarding athletics operations. And that is critical in determining what the UC Regents can do about UCLA's planned departure.

As always, San Jose Mercury News reporter Wilner is the best source on Pac-12 matters, and he provided two intriguing tweets Wednesday with regard to Cal interests:

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Cover photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports

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