A little over five months ago, this Pac 12 school announced it would leave and head to the Big Ten. Finally, on December 15th, 2022, it was official. So what does this mean for both conferences?
The Pac-12 In Shambles
On Wednesday night, University of California Regents officially approved the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten. However, they will not be the only teaming leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten; the University of Southern California (USC) plans to do the same.
With both of these phenomenal teams leaving the conference, there has been speculation on what the future will hold for the Pac-12. Many have suggested the possibility of a Big-12/Pac-12 merger with the current plans of the Big Ten and SEC trying to form paramount conferences. However, others lean towards the likelihood of the Pac-12 just going to the Pac-10, which is the most likely outcome.
UCLA’s Provisions To Leave
Because UCLA is a part of the University of California system, they could not get away with this deal scot-free. Because Cal will lose money for UCLA and USC leaving the Pac-12. UCLA is required to subsidize under a “Berkeley Tax” to Cal. The President will return to the Regents at a future meeting following a Pac-12 media agreement finalization. The number is between $2 million and $10 million, but the official payment amount will be announced following that Regent meeting.
The provisions do not end there. UCLA must provide additional yearly resources for student-athlete support. This provision includes $6.3 million for academic support, nutritional support, and mental health services for all student-athletes. They must also pay around $4.3 million for food. The $4.3 million will be for all UCLA athletes’ breakfast and lunch on campus, dietitian services, and healthy meals while traveling.
A Big Ten Powerhouse
How does this move affect the Big Ten? The additions of both UCLA and USC will have great feedback. Both teams are tremendous athletically; they ranked top-ten in football at one point in the regular season. UCLA also has a terrific basketball program; they went to the Sweet Sixteen last year and are ranked in the top 25 this year.
With an expansion to the conference comes decisions to be made. As it sits, the Big Ten layout is currently two divisions, East and West. However, when the new teams show up in 2024, the conference has considered becoming one big conference instead of multiple divisions. After watching Purdue get into the Big Ten conference championship game after going 7-5 because they were the best in the west division, going to a single conference sounds like the best option.
UCLA going to the Big Ten is an overall terrific move for both parties involved. UCLA does have to pay provisions, but UCLA will also double its revenue going to the Big Ten over the Pac-12. UCLA is projected to receive between $60 million to $70 million in its first year as a Big Ten member, per the times. In addition, the Big Ten beefs up the competition and brings more viewership to the conference.
The only potential loser I see is the Pac-12. Potential because of the possibility of merging with the Big 12; if it happens, they would also be a winner throughout this entire process. However, we can’t get too ahead of ourselves, that deal is not done yet, and the Pac-12 is at serious risk of a revenue drop if they go to the Pac-10.