In his first public comments about UCLA’s planned entry into the Big Ten, Bruins basketball legend Bill Walton blasted the decision and said he hopes the move is rescinded.
Walton, silent on the matter for four months, issued a statement Tuesday that was obtained by the Hotline.
In it, he directed criticism at UCLA’s “highest-level directors of athletics” for making a decision that’s “about money,” doesn’t serve the athletes and runs counter to the school’s mission.
“I don’t believe that joining the Big 10 is in the best interest of UCLA, its students, its athletes, its alumni, its fans, the rest of the UC system, the State of California, or the world at large,” wrote Walton, one of the most iconic athletes in Pac-12 history and an NBA Hall of Famer.
The move created an existential crisis for the Pac-12, with the 10 remaining schools considering options while they seek a media rights agreement that would bind them together for the remainder of the decade.
Here is Walton’s statement (unedited):
UCLA’S WRONG TURN
All progress requires change … not all change is progress,
I’m Bill Walton,
I’m a California native, resident, engaged citizen, voter, and taxpayer,
I’m a product of California’s terrific public school systems,
I’m a proud UCLA alum,
I am not in favor of UCLA’s recent announced decision to leave the Pac-12 Conference of Champions, nor their desire to join the Big 10,
I don’t like this attempted move,
I don’t support it,
I hope it does not happen,
UCLA is a public school that is supposed to serve the interests of the State of California,
UCLA is one of the world’s greatest schools, and brands,
UCLA represents the best of what life has been, and can, could and should be,
UCLA has been as great and as important a part of my life as anything, ever,
I don’t believe that joining the Big 10 is in the best interest of UCLA, its students, its athletes, its alumni, its fans, the rest of the UC system, the State of California, or the world at large,
Some of the many reasons why I am opposed to UCLA’s attempted move to the Big 10 are, in no particular order:
* the negative impact on the health, both physical and mental, of UCLA’s student-athletes,
* the exponential increase in travel on UCLA’s student-athletes will hurt them physically, mentally, and in their overall lives,
* the negative impact of the excessive travel will extend to families, friends, fans, alumni and everyone else,
* the increased costs of joining the Big 10 will negate the projected increased revenue assumptions of this proposed move,
* this proposed move to the Big 10 is contrary to UCLA’s and the entire UC System’s stated and professed environmental sustainability goals,
this proposed move to the Big 10 has serious negative implications and ramifications for the University of California, Berkeley
and flies in the face of the supposed team concept that has always been a part of the California Dream, plan and business model,
* this proposed move to the Big 10, is all about football, and money,
* what about all the other 24 sports and 600+student-athletes at UCLA, who are responsible for 99+% of UCLA’s National Championships,
* how many of these “others” are represented and willing participants in this proposed deal,
I went to UCLA— gladly, willingly, and proudly,
it was my dream,
that dream never included the Big 10,
I have spoken to no one, other than the highest-level directors of athletics at UCLA, who think that this proposed move to the Big 10 is a good idea,
every argument made by these senior AD’s and why they like it, is about money,
these same proponents of moving to the Big 10, are the first people I have ever encountered in my life,
who have claimed economic hardship and limitations in Los Angeles,
and that the solution lies in the Midwest,
I have made my feelings known, privately, to the powers that be in the State of California, including the UC’s Board of Regents,
my hope and dream is that this proposed move by UCLA, my alma mater, will be rescinded,
*** Walton is scheduled to appear on ‘Canzano and Wilner: The Podcast’ Tuesday afternoon. The episode will be available at approximately 3 p.m.
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