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#pounditWednesday, December 7, 2022

Big Ten reportedly has big backup plan if UCLA is blocked from joining

Kevin Warren smiling

Dec 4, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Big 10 commissioner Kevin Warren during the Michigan Wolverines game against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Conference championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If the University of California regents decide to play hardball with the Big Ten, the conference apparently has a big backup plan in mind that would result in some major backfire.

The University of California regents are meeting in December to determine whether the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) should be allowed to move to the Big Ten. UCLA and rival USC plan to move to the Big Ten in 2024. The move will result in a financial windfall for both schools, which is especially needed by UCLA, whose athletic department is reportedly around $100 million in debt.

The UC system is concerned about the amount of money that will be spent on travel, as well as the academic impact to student-athletes, when moving to play in a conference where schools are located across the country rather than closer along the West Coast. They are also concerned about their other flagship school — UC Berkeley — being left behind in the weaker Pac-12.

If the regents were to prevent UCLA from making the move, CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd believes that the Big Ten would respond by taking Oregon and Washington from the Pac-12. That would leave UCLA in a conference without USC, Oregon or Washington.

The Pac-12 would be significantly weakened at that point, having just UCLA, Cal, Stanford, Oregon State, Washington State, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State.

The regents better not test the Big Ten about whether or not this is a threat; the Big Ten is expanding, and plenty of schools would love to be a part of the conference if UCLA is blocked from going.

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