UCLA Bruins Likely Required Pay Staggering Amount To Fund Cal Berkeley Athletics

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The UCLA Bruins left the Pac-12 Conference for the Big Ten in part due to a $36.6 million deficit from the athletic department in the 2023 fiscal year. While changing conferences will provide UCLA with tens of millions of dollars annually, it might also come at another cost.

UCLA has faced rising debts built up by its athletic department over the years, increasing from an $18.9 million deficit in 2019 to $36.6 million this past year, according to the Los Angeles Times. It’s played a role in the school’s below-average NIL funding and its weakened recruiting efforts in recent years.

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Moving to the Big Ten Conference will help. Upon joining the Big Ten for the 2024 season, the Bruins will receive approximately $60 million annually as part of distribution from media rights payments. However, leaving the Pac-12 Conference also forced Cal Berkeley to find a new home, with the Bears joining the ACC.

The move won’t be nearly as financially lucrative for Cal Berkeley. In order to join the ACC, the school had to accept a smaller revenue share than other conference schools meaning it will only receive $11 million from the ACC each year for the next seven years. Now, UCLA might have to pay the price for that.

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The University of California’s Board of Regents is now discussing a proposal, with a strong recommendation from the UC president, that would require UCLA to pay around $11 million per year to subsidize Cal Berkeley’s athletics program.

The UC Board of Regents will debate approving the proposal on Tuesday, May 14 and if it’s approved, UCLA would be required to pay out $11 million annually to Cal Berkeley.

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It would be a sizable financial blow for a Bruins’ athletic department that is already dealing with financial hardships. However, the UC Board of Regents may see UCLA’s decision to leave as essentially forcing Cal to find a new conference albeit one with much higher expenses for travel. When UCLA received approval to leave for the Big Ten, the university agreed to pay UC Berkeley between $2 million and $10 million because of the new costs Cal’s athletic program faced.

According to ESPN, the recommendation is expected to be accepted. The final ruling will be made on Tuesday during a meeting at UC Merced.