In a closed session Dec. 14, the UC Board of Regents approved UCLA’s withdrawal from the Pac-12 conference and move to the Big Ten conference.
Berkeley Law alumnus Michael Aguirre noted that the decision was made in “abject secrecy.” He sent a letter to the regents Jan. 9 requesting a public meeting and discussion surrounding the decision.
The letter demanded the regents “declare void” their approval of UCLA’s withdrawal.
“(The) state created bodies like the Board of Regents (and) they’re required to conduct their deliberations in public,” Aguirre said. “So the public can actually watch what the reasons are … as they reach a conclusion about whether to approve UCLA’s departure. That didn’t happen, they did it in closed session.”
He noted that because sports take up resources and “implicate the values” of a university, the issue was important to discuss publicly.
The UC Office of the President did not comment as of press time. However, in a December press release announcing their approval, the regents noted that there were public board meetings and surveys regarding the transition, and “robust public discussions” that led to their approval.
According to the press release, the regents also directed UCLA to allocate additional funding from conference-associated revenues to support student athletes as a condition of joining the Big Ten.
The statement detailed that conference-associated revenue funds would contribute to expanded academic, nutritional and mental health resources for UCLA student athletes, and would also support athletes at UC Berkeley throughout this adjustment.
“This additional support will help our student athletes thrive in the classroom, in their communities, and on the playing field,” said UC President Michael Drake in the press release.
In addition to the letter, Aguirre addressed a lawsuit filed against UCLA and currently pending in the Los Angeles Superior Court to unveil the communication that took place between UCLA and the Big Ten.
“Ultimately our goal is to get it out of the back room and onto the public stage, so the public could actually witness and participate in a meaningful discussion about whether the University of California wants to allow one of its most important campuses to become enthralled with this materialistic interest in money instead of maintaining the semblance of an intercollegiate experience for the students,” Aguirre said.