Big Ten hopeful University of California regents will OK UCLA move

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren is hopeful any "remaining open issues" surrounding UCLA's transition from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten can be resolved when the University of California regents meet Dec. 14.

Warren told ESPN on Thursday that the Big Ten is respectful of the UC regents' evaluation of UCLA's intent to join the Big Ten, which was announced June 30. The Big Ten has formed "integration committees" to assist in the transition for both UCLA and USC, a private school.

The UC regents have discussed UCLA's proposed move in several meetings but will make a final decision Dec. 14. In September, UC regents general counsel Charles Robinson said the board had the authority to block a move. One concern is the financial impact UCLA's move would have on Cal, another school in the system, which will remain in the Pac-12.

"I've been working on integration of both USC and UCLA, but we have been respectful of the process that UCLA has gone through with the California board of regents," Warren told ESPN. "We're excited about welcoming USC and UCLA into the Big Ten Conference. Hopefully, whatever the remaining open issues are that exist, they can be resolved here so we can proceed forward in the manner that we had agreed upon.

"It's a major focus of our conference, to integrate them properly."

Warren said the Big Ten has addressed sensitive areas such as travel, student-athlete mental health and academics, which have been raised in regents meetings and by others critical of the move. Before a regents meeting in November, UCLA provided a document outlining the school's financial plans for travel, academic support, mental health services, nutrition and other areas surrounding the conference move, as well as a survey of Bruins athletes about their thoughts on switching leagues. In a statement after the November meeting, the regents said the additional time would allow them to address any additional questions before the final vote.

The Big Ten in August finalized a new media rights agreement -- set to bring in more than $1 billion per year -- with both UCLA and USC included.

"There are no unanswered questions," Warren said. "We're prepared. We have formal integration committees. It's a perfect fit for USC and UCLA, and we look forward to moving forward together in a respectful manner, once they finalize all of the open issues from a UCLA standpoint that they have with the board in California."

Warren also told ESPN that the Big Ten will discuss whether to keep or eliminate football divisions at its meetings in the spring next year in anticipation of a 16-team league for the 2024 season.