“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
Those were the words written under Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren’s email signature when he received UCLA Chancellor Gene Block’s request for the Big Ten on Thursday, June 30 at 9:42 a.m. PT (according to an email acquired by 247Sports through an open records request).
In fact, it seemed impossible.
The explosive news that UCLA and USC planned to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten before the 2024-25 season it would not break until more than half an hour later at 10:23 am, but by then the job was done. The two Los Angeles-based Pac-12 programs had been taken from the Pac-12, seemingly in an instant.
Like the news that Texas and Oklahoma left the Big 12 a year earlier, the departure of UCLA and USC from the Pac-12 took everyone by surprise, including the Pac-12 commissioner. Jorge Kliavkoff.
247Sports acquired more than 160 pages of emails from UCLA between the dates of June 27 and July 1 as part of an ongoing open records request, and while those emails don’t shed much light on the Bruins’ trading process with the Big Ten, they provide a window into the pushback within the UCLA community that has since arisen due to the move.
Earlier this week, at a meeting of the University of California Board of Regents, a pair of regents went so far as to suggest that it might prevent UCLA from joining the Big Ten. California Governor Gavin Newsome also criticized the move and the secrecy in which it was carried out.
And it certainly happened behind closed doors.
At 4:30 p.m. PT on June 30, UCLA athletics director Martin Jarmond sent an email to a group of UCLA faculty and deans to make things, well, officially official. . He gave the group a 10-minute notice, with a heavy dose of confidential labels at the top, that UCLA would indeed walk away from the Pac-12.
“After careful consideration and careful deliberation, UCLA has decided to leave the Pac-12 Conference and join the Big Ten Conference at the beginning of the 2024-25 season,” the mass email read.
The setback to the decision came quickly after that (247Sports chooses not to include email senders’ names). Also, it’s important to note that of the dozens of emails 247Sports received on its application, none of them praised UCLA’s move to the Big Ten.
One of the first emails Block received after the news spread throughout the system at 4:40 p.m. came from an employee in the school registrar’s office.
“Careful and thoughtful consideration that did not engage the UCLA community and is a complete shock to the entire country,” the email wrote. “Over 100 years of conference history thrown away. This is an outrageous disgrace.”
That tone toward Block and Jarmond was a regular theme in the emails 247Sports acquired. As one UCLA student put it: “Shame on everyone.”
Said one UCLA alumnus: “I sincerely hope that the reports that UCLA is considering joining the Big 10 Conference are false. It would be a terrible idea.
Another UCLA alumnus said, “If the rumors about UCLA moving to the Big-10 are true, it’s a sad day for college sports. Many former students aren’t thrilled about this latest soulless money heist. Do not count on me.”
Said someone who identified himself as a 1972 UCLA graduate: “Provide ALL THE DETAILS of the terribly stupid decision to take UCLA out of the Pac12 and into the HIDEOUS BIG 10 WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING THE STUDENTS OR THE STUDENT BODY. What a fool an administrator can be. What does Block think he is, a Supreme Court despot?!”
An alumnus of the University of California system and a UCLA Health nurse sent a lengthy email to Block in reaction to the news that UCLA left the Pac-12 in which he expressed his disappointment and said he planned to keep his promise to $20,000 athletics.
“Losing connections to our Bay Area Los Angeles and now not being able to attend games in Los Angeles with alumni from the Cal/Stanford/Oregon/Arizona family, which is rich in tradition and created memories for hundreds of thousands of families, has soured our relationship with UCLA athletics and an idea we cannot support. The lack of foresight, or empathy to address that foresight, and how their decision is personally affecting people who have paid their way to have the ability to have a brand, is a slap in the face. All in the hope of cashing in the interest of greed. Extremely disappointing in these times and considering our UCLA health mission and the issues we are experiencing as a community. Nobody cares about UCLA/Ohio State or Michigan in football or Michigan State in basketball, read your own internal polls if you don’t believe me.
And lastly, as RNs, we will not wake up at 9am to watch a UCLA game on the East Coast after a 14 hour shift on a Friday night, nor will we support the Big 10 as pac10 alumni/ 12. We support your autonomy to make your decisions for student athletes, but after speaking with hundreds of supporters both inside and outside of UCLA Health, all UCLA alumni, we cannot support the enthusiasm you hoped we would express and will withhold any future donations. .”
Another email asked UCLA officials two questions:
- How is the planned move to the Big Ten consistent with UCLA’s commitment to the health, wellness, and academic success of its student-athletes?
- How is the planned move to the Big Ten consistent with UCLA, the UC System, and the State of California’s commitment to sustainability in reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
None of the other emails 247Sports received as part of its open records request included responses. But this sparked a response within the school between teacher Eric MV Hoek and Director of Sustainability Nurif Katz, who responded to Hoek’s internal response by confirming sustainability concerns and offering to work with those within the school “to work on solutions.” to the problems it raises. .”
Katz told Hoek: I received a number of similar inquiries today from other alumni and alerted our media relations and our sustainability liaison for athletics, Derek Doolittle. He would normally work with them on the response and media talking points (which Director Jarmond and others will review), but I would appreciate it if they would work with us. Now that the concern has been raised with the Chancellor, we will also prepare an official response to the CCS on behalf of the Chancellor.”
UCLA will join the Big Ten in 2024-25, according to the contract between the two parties that acquired 247Sports. But as these emails have shown, the debate surrounding the move — who ultimately makes the decision and whether it’s good for the athletes and the school — will continue for a long time.