The University of California regents did not finalize the so-called Berkeley tax when they gathered Thursday at UCLA, but they agreed to wade deeper into the world of college sports.
Much, much deeper.
The regents formalized a special committee designed to “assist the Board in fulfilling its responsibilities for oversight of intercollegiate athletics programs,” according to the regents’ website.
Just what the Bruins and Bears need: More bureaucracy!
As the schools prepare to enter new conferences next season, their governing board is expected to require UCLA to provide Cal with financial support. The amount has not been determined. Nor have the regents offered a clear timeline for resolution to the controversial issue, which amounts to an unprecedented subsidy between UC athletic departments.
The regents met Thursday in closed session to discuss what the agenda described as “UC Berkeley Atlantic Coast Conference Membership.” No details were provided after the fact, but the board’s upcoming calendar now includes an Oct. 11 meeting of a “special committee on athletics.”
The special committee’s two-year charter is also available on the website.
Regent Jose Hernandez, who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of the Pacific and a masters from UCSB, will serve as the chair of the seven-personal committee. Chancellors Gene Block (UCLA), Carol Christ (Cal) and Gary May (UC Davis) will advise.
The committee has four areas of focus, according to the charter:
— Athlete welfare (travel, academic support, mental health).
— Oversight of governance and internal controls, including compliance and audit activities
— Strategic direction of athletics, which includes “recommendations to the Board when appropriate, on matters that impact student-athletes and athletic programs.”
— Review of system-wide policies.
There is nothing in the charter about the so-called Berkeley tax, by which UCLA would funnel millions of dollars in Big Ten revenue to the Bears as a “contribution” to their athletic department. And the University of California’s office for strategic communications did not respond to a request for comment on the special committee’s role in crafting the subsidy.
But sources expect the committee to delve into the issue — after all, the financial component is connected to all four areas of focus.
The authority to impose the subsidy was formalized in December and described in this manner by the regents:
“The President will return to the Regents at a future meeting, after Pac-12 media agreements are finalized, with a recommendation for a contribution by UCLA to the Berkeley campus in the range of $2 million to $10 million, to be used to enhance student athlete support at that campus.
Following the Pac-12’s collapse in early August, Cal and Stanford agreed to join the ACC next summer at discounted revenue shares. The two schools will reportedly receive 30 percent cuts of the ACC’s media revenue from ESPN for seven years, placing them at a significant competitive disadvantage.
Even as a full-share member of the Pac-12, the Bears receive more than $20 million in campus support to balance their books.
“We believe (the ACC deal) was the best agreement in financial terms that we could have made and look forward to working through the challenges,” Christ said when the ACC move was announced in early September.
How might Cal “work through” those challenges?
“We’ve barely begun to think about strategy,” Christ added. “There’s a piece of it that’s missing, which is what the regents decide about UCLA’s contribution to Cal.”
As the measure indicates, the maximum “contribution” is $10 million annually. It’s possible the regents will decline to slap the Bruins with a Berkeley tax, but both campuses expect the subsidy to be imposed.
Resolution could take months but likely will begin, in earnest, when the special committee gathers Oct. 11 at UCSF.
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