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UCLA’s potential Big Ten move could run into trouble with law


Governor and attorney general’s office each defer to university on implementation

The University of California Los Angeles’ potential move to the Big Ten Conference could run into some obstacles with state law.

That’s because California prohibits “state funded travel to a state” that has “passed a law that (1) authorizes discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, or (2) voids or repeals existing state or local protections against such discrimination,” according to a legal analysis of Assembly Bill 1887 that is published on UCLA’s website.

This effectively applies to all right-leaning states that have not jumped on board with gender ideology.

The current states on the attorney general’s no-fly list, so to speak, include Indiana, Iowa and Ohio, home to four Big Ten universities total – Purdue University, Indiana University, University of Iowa and Ohio State University. The decision to move to the Big Ten is not finalized yet – the University of California regents plan to discuss the issue on Thursday.

UCLA told The Mercury News that “none of the costs for travel to that state will come from state funds” and “if a team competes in a banned state, student-athletes and staff will receive education about the relevant California law, the law at issue in the destination state and given the choice to opt out of the travel with no risk of consequence.”

The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman questioned the feasibility of these plans. “It must be nice running a government institution and being free to create an alternative private funding source when compliance with government rules is too onerous,” Freeman wrote. “As for the ability to opt out of the games in banned states, can a football coach on the bubble really choose not to show up when his team plays Ohio State?”

The attorney general’s office also declined to specifically answer if UCLA could be punished for traveling to states on the banned list and if it had any other guidance it had provided to universities.

“Under AB 1887, our role is to develop, maintain, and post on our website a current list of states that are subject to the restrictions,” an email from the attorney general’s press office to The Fix said. “The law’s restrictions only apply to travel funded by the State of California. It’s ultimately up to each California agency to make determinations about the steps they’ll need to take to comply with AB 1887.”

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The Fix reached out to UCLA Media Relations Director Eddie North-Hagar via email to ask about the law and its implications regarding state travel, whether the university’s sports teams will travel to banned states or if the law came up in discussions in deciding to join the Big Ten. He acknowledged receipt but did not provide comment by time of publication. UCLA athletic spokesperson Liza David did not respond to questions on how teams would travel and if they would use private funds, as well as what role the state’s law played in the decision process to join the Big Ten.

The Fix also did not receive comment from the Big Ten communications team. The Fix asked one week ago how the law will affect UCLA’s relationship with the conference, or whether accommodations will be made for the school.

The governor’s office deferred comment to UCLA on the implementation of the state law and whether sports would be exempted.

While Governor Newsom’s office did not provide answers, he has exempted himself at times from the travel prohibition.

For example, he vacationed in Montana, which is on the list. While he paid for the travel himself, taxpayer-funded security reportedly traveled with him, according to Cal Matters which broke the story in July.

“On the security side, the law explicitly states there is an exemption for public safety, and the governor has to travel with security,” a spokesman told The New York Times.

Editor’s note: The article was updated to include information on an inquiry sent to Liza David.

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IMAGE: Don Liebig/UCLA

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About the Author
William Benson -- The Catholic University of America