UCLA Expected to Pay Cal Hefty Sum for Defecting to Pac-12

The Bruins are heading to the Big Ten this coming season.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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The University of California Board of Regents special committee on athletics voted 7-1 during a meeting at UC Merced on May 14  to cut down the length of the payments UCLA has to pay the University of California at Berkeley.

The payment was nicknamed "Calimony" by UCLA and Cal supporters could have UCLA pay Cal $10 million a year for three years instead of six as a result of UCLA’s move to the Big Ten.

 UC president Michael Drake recommended six years in a report going into the meeting because of a projected $50-million-per-year disparity in the schools’ athletic revenue.

According to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times, the regents said they intended to revisit the payment amount halfway through UCLA’s six-year contract with the Big Ten that ends in 2029-30. They also agreed that any change in revenue or expenses for UCLA or Cal exceeding 10 percent of the 2024-25 figures would trigger immediate discussions to adjust the payment amount.

“We historically haven’t done anything like this,” said regent Keith Ellis, who was the lone opposing vote. “Where we take from one campus and give to another, playing, I guess, Robin Hood.”

The demise of the Pac-12 Conference began when UCLA and Southern California announced their intentions to move to the Big Ten in June 2022. Oregon and Washington subsequently followed. Cal has agreed to join the expanded Atlantic Coast Conference while taking a reduced share of the conference’s media-rights deal.

UCLA is set to make roughly $60 million a year in media-rights revenue compared to only around $11 million for Cal during its first seven years of ACC membership. The disparage in payments has put UCLA in a unique situation because a $10-million annual payment could put UCLA at a competitive disadvantage in its new conference. The school has promised to increase its yearly tab to roughly $10.32 million on enhanced nutrition, mental health, and academic tutoring for athletes in addition to more chartered flights to mitigate travel challenges.

A debt of $167.7 million since the 2019 fiscal year has been the root of UCLA’s move to the Big Ten which will provide value beyond the media-rights deal. The school will also earn a larger share of College Football Playoff revenue as well as more money from NCAA tournament distributions because of the Big Ten’s recent success in both events.

Somehow, UCLA is being held responsible for Cal and is literally going to pay for their decision to do what’s best for the institution.

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Maren Angus-Coombs

MAREN ANGUS-COOMBS

Maren Angus-Coombs was born in Los Angeles and raised in Nashville, Tenn. She is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and has been a sports writer since 2008. Despite being raised in the South, her sports obsession has always been in Los Angeles. She is currently a staff writer for the LA Sports Report Network.