Next week, the UC Board of Regents will decide whether it will block UCLA’s decision to move from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten after months of discussion.
The body now has a new opinion to consider.
On Wednesday, a prominent college athlete advocacy group called the National College Players Association — led by former UCLA football player and longtime athlete advocate Ramogi Huma — sent the regents a letter urging it to force UCLA to abandon its Big Ten plan.
In the letter, Huma explained how he believed the move would harm athletes’ academic abilities and mental health while providing a financial benefit for only a few athletic department officials.
UCLA anticipates making $70 million in media rights from the Big Ten alone — more than its entire conference distribution in the Pac-12.
The letter also suggested the school would engage in “racial exploitation” by negatively impacting predominantly Black football and basketball players for business purposes.
“The Regents should not let a handful of people sell the soul of the UCLA athletics program for TV dollars that will be spent on luxury boxes in stadiums and lavish salaries for a few,” the letter read.
- The letter noted a study saying athletes already spend 50 hours a week on sports — and will face an even bigger academic and mental strain due to increased travel times.
- It said families will be negatively impacted by not being able to attend games.
- The letter said increased revenues would benefit top coaches, athletic administration, and even “construction companies who will build the next gold-plated facility” — but not trickle down meaningfully to athletes.
A survey of UCLA athletes echoed these concerns — saying their biggest fears about moving to the Big Ten were related to missing classes and traveling too much. They even noted a concern about playing in cold weather.
Only 35% of the 111 athletes who responded to the survey thought the move would be a good idea — the rest either had no opinion or opposed the decision.
UCLA has attempted to address concerns, however.
In a study, the school said it would spend about $10 million extra each year on increased resources for athletes, from charter planes to academic support. It also promised that being in the Big Ten would help them with things like national exposure and name, image, and likeness earnings.
The 26-member board, which California Governor Gavin Newsom chairs, will hand down a final decision on Dec. 14.