UCLA says it was left with no other choice but to take the money that the Big Ten Conference threw on the table. After the last three years — including COVID lockdowns, an empty Rose Bowl and empty basketball arenas — the Bruins’ athletic department managed to create a $102.8 million deficit, according to the L.A. Times, and it desperately needed a golden parachute from B1G bag man, commissioner Kevin Warren.
Now you are left with a Big Ten Conference that has conquered the Los Angeles TV market.
UCLA athletic director Marin Jarmond says it was either jumping off the Pac-12’s sinking ship or the Olympic sports at the school would get whacked.
“If you love Olympic sports, you should be a fan of this move,” Jarmond told L.A. Times.
“When your program is in significant debt, it’s difficult just to maintain, never mind to invest. This not only preserves the programs now — which was not a given — but also will allow us to invest in them. This move allows us to reimagine what UCLA athletics can be with more strategic investment and resources.”
Financially, this is the best thing to ever happen to UCLA. It’s estimated the program could receive $100 million from the B1G — PER YEAR — if the next TV deal comes in at a projected $1 billion.
If that means college students are placed on planes to fly to New Jersey to play Rutgers, then that’s just what will happen. Get ready or roadies, athletes.
And there’s great news for the beach volleyball teams, men’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s water polo — they don’t even have to go to the Big Ten because the conference doesn’t even offer those sports.
As we sit here thinking about how all this played out, it’s not out crazy to think that COVID and politicians killed off the Pac-12 Conference. Gavin Newsom will be an accessory. Failed conference commissioner Larry Scott also played a part in killing the once-great conference with his TV network that didn’t air a live game in a shortened 2020 season.
Haven't received the documents from UCLA yet but this $62.5-million athletic department deficit for the 2021 fiscal year brings the Bruins' three-year shortfall to $102.8 million. https://t.co/wpqzp5XmFG
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) January 27, 2022
Blame NIL. Blame TV networks. Blame greed.
At the end of the day, three viruses took out the Pac-12 Conference and actually saved UCLA from financial ruin.
Grass-fed flank steak & seared red snapper — #UCLA football players eat like kings under coach Chip Kelly. @nathanfenno & I got hold of 100s of receipts shedding light on lux cuisine that has contributed to athletic department's $18.9-million deficit. https://t.co/hhXDgwu8u9
— David Wharton (@LATimesWharton) October 27, 2020