In letter, Pac-12's George Kliavkoff cites "significant" financial and mental health issues at UCL...

In letter, Pac-12’s George Kliavkoff cites “significant” financial and mental health issues at UCL…

In a letter to the University of California board of trustees ahead of a closed session Thursday to discuss UCLA’s proposed move to the Big Ten conference, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff detailed the “significant concerns” he had about the transfer, including its effect on the mental health of student-athletes, increased travel and operating costs, and negative impacts on Cal’s revenue and the UC system’s climate goals .

Klivakoff’s letter was provided in response to a request from the Regents regarding the conference’s views on the UCLA move, a source said.

“Despite all the explanations provided after the fact, UCLA’s decision to join the Big Ten was clearly financially motivated after the UCLA athletic department managed to rack up more than $100 million in debt over the past three last exercises,” Kliavkoff wrote.

He said the increased revenue UCLA will receive will be completely offset by higher costs from additional travel, the need for Big Ten-competitive salaries and game-guarantee expenses.

“UCLA currently spends about $8.1 million a year on travel for its teams to attend the Pac-12 conference,” Kliavkoff said. “UCLA will incur a 100% increase in travel costs for its team if it flies commercially in the Big Ten ($8.1 million increase per year), a 160% increase if it charters half the time ($13.1 million per year) and a 290% increase if he charters every flight ($23 million per year increase).”

Kliavkoff did not cite how those numbers were calculated or indicate whether there was any genuine belief that UCLA would consider charter trips for teams other than football and basketball.

According to a source familiar with UCLA internal estimates, the school expects to spend about $6 million to $10 million more per year on travel to the Big Ten compared to the Pac-12.

The move to the Big Ten, Kliavkoff speculated, would also lead UCLA to spend more on salaries to meet conference standards. He estimated that UCLA would have to raise salaries for its athletics department by about $15 million to bring the university up to the Big Ten average.

“Any financial gains UCLA makes by joining the Big Ten will end up going to airlines and charters, administrator and coach salaries, and other beneficiaries rather than providing additional resources to student-athletes,” Kliavkoff said.

A UCLA spokesperson declined to comment.

UC President Michael V. Drake, who previously served as Ohio State President, said in an interview with The New York Times, “No decisions. I think everyone is gathering information. C is an evolving situation.”

Beyond the financial impact for UCLA, which is widely seen as the driving factor behind his planned move, Kliavkoff said it will also hurt Cal, who is also part of the UC system. As media rights negotiations are ongoing, Kliavkoff said it’s difficult to disclose the exact impact without revealing confidential information, but confirmed the Pac-12 is seeking offers with and without UCLA in the lap.

Beyond the financial component of the additional trip, Kliavkoff said “media research published by the National Institutes of Health, studies conducted by the NCAA, and discussions with our own student-athlete leaders” show that the move will have a negative impact on student-athletes. ‘ mental health and to withdraw from their academic activities. He added that it would also be a burden on family and alumni to face trips across the country to see UCLA teams play.

Finally, Kliavkoff said the additional travel is contrary to the climate goals of the UC system and goes against UCLA’s commitment to “climate neutrality” by 2025.

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