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#pounditWednesday, August 10, 2022

Report: Major reason why UCLA leaving for Big Ten revealed

Jul 24, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins coach Chip Kelly during Pac-12 football media day at Hollywood & Highland. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA shocked the college football world by making future plans to join the Big Ten in 2024. The move was reportedly done for financial reasons, but with an interesting twist.

On Tuesday, Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times reported that the university’s debt-burdened athletic department was on its way to having to cut multiple sports before moving to the Big Ten.

According to Bolch, the Bruins were “headed toward an Olympic sports Armageddon” without the influx of cash that they’ll get by leaving the Pac-12 in 2024.

UCLA’s athletic department had amassed a $102.8 million debt over the last three fiscal years. Those budget worries should no longer be a concern anymore with the money the school stands to bring in with a potentially massive TV rights deal on the horizon for the Big Ten.

With the influx of cash to come, the department will have the option of investing more money into revamping facilities and improving travel accommodations now that UCLA teams will be traveling cross-country in a few years.

Bolch’s story though omits how much of the financial damage done to the athletic department was self-inflicted. The Pac-12 hardly played a football schedule in 2020, and the few games they did play were without fans. Football is the biggest revenue-generating sport for nearly every athletic department. Then as recently as early 2022, UCLA and USC voluntarily adopted policies to prevent fans from attending home basketball games. UCLA voluntarily kept money out of their own pockets, and now are using their monetary problems as an excuse for leaving 90 years of tradition behind for a new conference with which they have zero geographic ties.

What did they think would happen when they stopped allowing fans to attend expensive events?

The Pac-12 is in a perilous spot with UCLA and USC leaving, and it looks like the Big 12 is trying to pry a few more conference schools away.

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