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UC Regents vote to allow UCLA to leave Pac-12 for Big Ten; subsidy could come later


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The University of California's Board of Regents debated UCLA's fate over the course of five consecutive months and five different meetings following the school's mid-summer decision to join the Big Ten.

And in the end, the governing board sent the key players on their merry way with parting gifts of varying appeal:

— The Bruins get to join the Big Ten as planned, along with USC, in the summer of 2024.

— Cal is positioned to receive a multi-million-dollar subsidy, courtesy of its sister school in Westwood.

— California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who railed against the lack of transparency in UCLA's process, can claim a political victory. (After all, the board he oversees did something.)

— And the remaining Pac-12 schools can, finally, make formal plans for life after L.A.

Those plans include finalizing a media rights agreement — a lengthy, complicated process that had been on hold because of the lingering uncertainty over UCLA's fate.

Full and official clarity came Wednesday at 4:17 p.m. in the Luskin Conference Center on UCLA's campus, where the regents approved the Big Ten move by an 11-5 vote.

Additionally, they attached a series of "mitigation measures" to UCLA's departure as a means of limiting the mental and physical toll on hundreds of athletes — particularly in the Olympic sports — who will make regular trips to a Big Ten footprint that stretches from Nebraska to the East Coast.

An example of the resources:

"UCLA will increase budgeted student-athlete nutritional support beyond levels established for the 2023-2024 fiscal year in an amount not less than $4.3 million; such support shall include guaranteed breakfast and lunch availability on campus for all UCLA student-athletes, professional dietician services, and funds not less than $250,000 set aside for additional nutritious meals while traveling."

Separately, the regents agreed to consider a potential annual subsidy for Cal, which stands to lose media revenue because of UCLA's departure from the Pac-12.

The approved range for a subsidy is $2 million to $10 million, with the exact figure based "on the best available information on projected revenues for both campuses."

A final decision on what the regents described as "a contribution by UCLA to the Berkeley campus" will be made once the Pac-12 finalizes its media rights deal.

How kindly the other schools take to Cal receiving a handout remains to be seen. The revenue reduction caused by UCLA's departure is across the board, after all.

After the regents' decision, the conference offered the following statement:

"Regardless of any determination by the UC Board of Regents, the Pac-12 has been and remains incredibly bullish on the future success and growth of our Conference.

"We look forward to continuing to work together with our membership to provide best-in-class support for our student-athletes and athletic programs athletically and academically, and to lead on the national college athletics stage."

Without a campus in the Los Angeles media market, the Pac-12 stands to generate significantly less media revenue than it would have with the 12 schools moving in lockstep into the new contract cycle.

How much less?

Projections vary, but most peg the annual media revenue for each campus in the low-to-mid $30 million range.

(That amount tracks closely with the Big 12, which recently agreed to a media deal paying each campus $31.66 million annually.)

With UCLA remaining in the Pac-12, annual media revenue could have jumped to $40 million or more per school with access to the L.A. market driving competition among networks.

Instead, the Bruins are leaving behind their home of 100 years and moving into the Power Five penthouse.

The Big Ten's new media deal, announced in August, is expected to pay each school a minimum of $62.5 million annually — and the amount could exceed $70 million near the end of the seven-year deal.

"We're excited to join the Big Ten Conference in 2024 and are grateful for the Board of Regents' thoughtful engagement in this decision," UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said.

"We've always been guided by what is best for our 25 teams and more than 700 student-athletes, and the Big Ten offers exciting new competitive opportunities on a bigger national media platform for our student-athletes to compete and showcase their talent."

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Jon Wilner
Jon Wilner's Pac-12 Hotline is brought to KSL.com through a partnership with the Bay Area News Group.

Jon Wilner has been covering college sports for decades and is an AP Top 25 football and basketball voter as well as a Heisman Trophy voter. He was named Beat Writer of the Year in 2013 by the Football Writers Association of America for his coverage of the Pac-12, won first place for feature writing in 2016 in the Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest and is a five-time APSE honoree. You can follow him on Twitter @WilnerHotline or send an email at jwilner@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Pac-12 Hotline: Subscribe to the Pac-12 Hotline Newsletter. Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.

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