UCLA Olympic sport faces uncertain future ahead of Big 10 move

It was a spectacular move with a quiet beneficiary.

Given the precarious financial situation of the sports department, University of California at Los Angeles faced the prospect of stopping the sport if the school did not agree big ten conference bolt.

The time has not been set and the number of teams that could be affected is unknown, but the Bruins were moving towards an Olympic sporting Armageddon. no cash injection which will accompany his departure from the Pac-12 conference in 2024.

Now its 25 teams and over 700 athletes can breathe a sigh knowing their future is secure, making those cross-country flights and the cold winter temperatures in the G-10 countries much more bearable.

“If you love Olympic sports, you must be a fan of this move.” – UCLA sporting director Martin Jarmond told The Times on Tuesday. “When your program is heavily indebted, it’s hard to just maintain, let alone invest. This will not only save the programs now, which was not given, but also allow us to invest in them. This move allows us to reimagine what UCLA athletics can be with greater strategic investment and resources.”

Over the past three fiscal years, UCLA’s athletic department has run a $102.8 million deficit that was only expected to get worse given the school’s sagging football attendance and paltry Pac-12 payouts that lagged behind its big conference colleagues. It’s now entirely possible that the Bruins could be getting $100 million from the Big Ten a year if the extended conference can hook up a projected $1 billion media rights deal due to begin in 2024.

Within a year or two, UCLA’s deficit could turn into a surplus, its budget worrying as much of a relic as the Pac-12 South Bruins.

This momentary wealth should avert the crisis Stanford found itself in two years ago when it announced it would cut 11 sports due to budgetary constraints. A year later, amid backlash from lawsuits and worries from athletes, the school reversed course and retained its sports department.

Without such salvation, others were less fortunate. More than 30 colleges across the country have phased out sports in the past 2.5 years.citing financial difficulties caused mainly by the COVID-19 pandemic.

UCLA won’t be joining the list thanks to its new sponsor, which puts an end to fears of cutbacks. The increased resources will provide, among other things, more money for equipment, travel and coach salaries, even among the four programs – beach volleyball, men’s volleyball and men’s and women’s water polo – that will not move into the Big Ten because the conference does not sponsor these events. sports.

“I keep thinking about how we can get No. 120?” Jarmond said, referring to UCLA’s pursuit of its next NCAA team title. “How can we not only get to the Final Four, but also win everything? How do we help programs win and win in this changing environment? These days, you must continually increase your resources to help coaches and student athletes achieve these goals and remain competitive as a department.

“We want to bring more excitement and energy to our teams. We want more exciting games at the Rose Bowl, more fun at the Pauley Pavilion. I’m thinking about how we can help softball not only continue to make it to the College World Series, but win it all again? Our student-athletes deserve an elite experience, and this move will play a major role in our ability to deliver that to them.”

Giving them a chance to just compete was perhaps the greatest gift of all.