UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond remains focused on Bruins’ move to the Big Ten

As part of getting approval from the University of California Board of Regents to switch conferences, UCLA will invest an additional $12 million in nutritional support, mental health services, academic support while traveling and charter flights to reduce travel time.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In many ways, UCLA is at the midway point in its process of joining the Big Ten Conference.

Friday marked one year since the Bruins and Southern California shook up the collegiate landscape by announcing they were leaving the Pac-12 in 2024. Since then, UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond and coaches in all sports have been assessing their programs as well as adjusting some recruiting priorities due to the level of competition.

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 19: Zach Charbonnet #24 of the UCLA Bruins runs the ball against the USC Trojans during the first quarter in the game at Rose Bowl on November 19, 2022 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

“We’re doing a deep dive to see how we look competitively against other members of the Big Ten. It’s been a great learning process for us,” Jarmond said. “When we go to the Big Ten, we want to compete at the highest level from day one. But you have to do the work to understand your competition and some of your strengths and benefits and what are the things that you can accentuate to put your positives in the limelight.”

Most of those strategic plans will start to come into focus during the fall. As part of getting approval from the University of California Board of Regents to switch conferences, UCLA will invest an additional $12 million in nutritional support, mental health services, academic support while traveling and charter flights to reduce travel time.

While most of Jarmond’s focus is on the transition, he knows his coaches have to concentrate on the present — preparing for a final season of competition in the Pac-12 — as well as having an eye toward the future and trying to envision what life in the Big Ten might entail.

Jarmond attended Big Ten meetings in April. The Big Ten announced the football schedule rotations for 2024 and ’25 earlier this month. The Bruins will host Ohio State in 2024 and travel to Michigan in 2025. They will also have home-and-home series both seasons with Nebraska and Rutgers.

The Crosstown Showdown between USC and UCLA is one of 11 protected rivalries by the Big Ten to guarantee it continues every year.

“It’s hard to do a schedule that all 16 schools would glowingly approve. But I do think that the Big Ten did a good job of trying to balance some of the historical rivalries and fitting us in,” Jarmond said.

Jarmond, who will celebrate three years as UCLA’s AD on Saturday, also noted the department has made progress toward reducing its budget deficit. The Westwood Exchange NIL program, started last April, has added partnerships with the Anderson School of Management for branding perspectives as well as the law school to give school athletes counseling and advice with contracts.

“We’re doing the most we can, but you’ve got to be flexible and nimble in this environment,” Jarmond said about NIL. “The hard part of it all is you hear so much, but you can’t trust everything you hear. So, you can’t be too reactionary. But at the same time, you have to be aggressive in allowing for opportunities for your student-athletes to succeed and excel in an ideal space.”

UCLA finished 14th nationally in the 2021-22 Directors Cup standings with 1,000.25 points. It is the first time since 2018 it has earned at least 1,000 points in the standings.

The women’s soccer and men’s volleyball teams won national championships, the football team finished 9-4 and played in a bowl game for the first time since 2017, while the men’s and women’s basketball programs both made the Sweet 16.

Fangran Tian became the school’s first NCAA singles champion in women’s tennis in 28 years. UCLA also won six conference titles, including the men’s basketball going unbeaten at home.

“We had our best competitive year since 2017. When you have football and basketball, obviously as far as from a revenue perspective they do well, the energy is strong and momentum is there,” Jarmond said. “It’s exciting because I think everybody can tell UCLA athletics is on a great trajectory right now. It’s going to even get better as we transition into the Big Ten.”

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