California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday blasted the lack of transparency behind UCLA’s move to the Big Ten conference and said the University of California Board of Regents is “looking into it.”
The Bruins announced on June 30 that they had accepted an invitation, along with USC, to join the Big Ten in 2024.
The stunning departure after a century in the Pac-12 has consequences for Cal and other universities in the state, both public and private.
“Trust me when I say this,” Newsom told FOX 11 Los Angeles, “we’re not going to be looking into it. We already are looking into it, within minutes after reading about this in the newspaper.”
The Hotline reported on Tuesday that UCLA’s move is on the agenda for the UC regents meeting in San Francisco on July 21.
As governor, Newsom is an ex officio member of the board, which oversees the prestigious university system’s 10 campuses.
When asked about the secretive process that culminated on June 30, Newsom said:
“No big deal, I’m the governor of the state of California. Maybe a bigger deal is I’m the chair of the UC regents. I read about it.
“Is it a good idea? Did we discuss the merits or demerits? I’m not aware that anyone did. So it was done in isolation. It was done without any regental oversight or support …
“I have strong opinions about this, for no other reason than as a member of the regents, we were never consulted, never asked for an opinion, and they didn’t even have the decency to provide (a) heads-up.”
In the July 21 agenda notice about UCLA on the regents’ website, the following description was included:
“Closed Session Statute Citation: Litigation [Education Code 92032(b)(5)]”
Section 92032 of the California education code broadly refers to procedural matters.
— Part “b” states:
“The Regents of the University of California may conduct closed sessions when they meet to consider or discuss any of the following matters:”
— Part “5” states:
“Matters involving litigation, when discussion in open session concerning those matters would adversely affect, or be detrimental to, the public interest.”
It was unclear whether the regents would attempt to block the move or whether they themselves could be facing litigation for allowing the Bruins to leave the conference that has been their home for more than a century.
Given Newsom’s comments, it appears the regents could be considering legal action.
A spokesperson for the UC Office of the President told the Hotline that the regents have no authority to prevent UCLA’s move:
“There is no requirement for a decision from the University of California Board of Regents or the Office of the President.”
The Hotline also asked about the level of involvement, if any, of UC system president Michael Drake.
According to the spokesperson:
“UCLA leadership informed President Drake that discussions between UCLA and the Big Ten were occurring but he was not involved at all in those discussions or in any negotiations. UCLA remains best positioned to answer your questions as decisions related to athletics are formulated and executed at the campus-level.”
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This article originally appeared on MercuryNews.com.
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