Pac-12's George Kliavkoff Has 'Significant' Concerns over UCLA's Move to Big Ten

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 23, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 29, 2022 - - Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff makes his opening remarks at the start of the Pac-12 Media Day at The Novo at L.A. LIVE on July 29, 2022. The one-day event features all 12 head coaches and two student-athletes from each university, as well as representatives from the Pac-12 Conference staff. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
George Kliavkoff (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff expressed "significant concerns" about UCLA's impending move to the Big Ten in 2024.

Kliavkoff wrote a letter to the University of California Board of Regents on Thursday, suggesting the conference change will negatively impact student-athletes' mental health while also leading to increased travel and operational costs, per ESPN's Kyle Bonagura.

"Any financial gains UCLA will achieve by joining the Big Ten will end up going to airline and charter companies, administrators and coaches' salaries and other recipients rather than providing any additional resources for student-athletes," Kliavkoff said.

The Big Ten announced in June it voted to accept UCLA and USC, a Pac-12 school that is a private university, as new members beginning in August 2024.

Kliavkoff's comments about the potential negative impact on student-athletes are in direct contrast with UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond, who said the move will help Bruins players.

Jarmond explained on ESPN's SportsCenter in July (via Derek Peterson of Saturday Out West) the increased "national exposure" from playing in games with more reasonable start times for people in other time zones is a huge plus for possible NIL deals.

"So, in a name, image and likeness era, and a student-athlete finding their voice and their brand and what's important to them, this gives them a national platform, that they can be seen in ways that we haven't been able to," Jarmond said.

He added: "We want to position our student-athletes at UCLA to be the best and to be in a position of strength."

Kliavkoff also stated UCLA faces a minimum of a 100 percent increase in travel costs to play in the Big Ten (up to $16.2 million from $8.1 million) and the overall cost could rise to $31.1 million if the school relies solely on charter flights rather than commercial.

Internally, the athletic department is expecting an uptick in travel costs between $6 million and $10 million annually, per Bonagura.

A UCLA spokesperson declined comment to ESPN about Kliavkoff's letter.

It's unclear whether the University of California Board of Regents has any power to block the school's planned conference change amid meetings about the move.

UCLA and USC are among a growing number of schools expected to change conferences over the next few years amid widespread college sports realignment.

Losing two of its most storied programs would be a major blow to the Pac-12, especially if it can't find suitable replacements amid the evolving landscape.