So when UCLA was in deep talks with USC, the Big Ten and its media partner, Fox Sports, UCLA President Gene Block briefed Drake, the UC president who oversees university presidents. Drake is a seasoned participant in that world, having served as chairman of the NCAA Board of Governors when he was president of Ohio State.
While Block informed Drake of the talks, only a handful of regents were aware until shortly before the San Jose Mercury News reported on the Los Angeles schools’ departure on June 30. The political ramifications quickly became clear when Newsom, who is a nonvoting board member and appoints some of the regents, bristled at the lack of transparency due to his impact on another UC school.
Still, the move seemed little more than a fait accompli until Charlie Robinson, UC’s general counsel, told the regents last month that they had the power to nullify the agreement. “When the regents and the president extended authority to the chancellors, they didn’t give it up,” Robinson told the regents last month.
Leib, the chairman of the board, said Wednesday that “in my opinion, this is absolutely up to the regents.” He said he expected the board to make a decision on whether to intervene by the end of the year. “By November, it will get clearer.”
Among the considerations for the regents is potential litigation, no matter what decision they make, Leib said Wednesday. If the regents force UCLA to remain in the Pac-12, “it would be a big deal,” Leib said. “There would be a lot of happy people and a lot of upset people.”
Block was asked Thursday morning, standing outside the Price Center, the UC San Diego student center where the three-day meeting was held this week, if he was surprised by where UCLA is located.