The Big T1e6n, minus …?

James Freeman:

Are there any progressive leftists who can live by the rules they seek to impose upon others? Recently this column noted a report suggesting that Beltway wokesters can’t stand working with each other. Then came the quiet visit by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D., Calif.) to a state he officially deplores. Turns out there’s an interesting new detail about that trip’s expenses. And now it appears that the growing list of condemnations issued by Mr. Newsom and his fellow California pols could thwart the ambitions of one of the Golden State’s premier public universities.

Last month the University of California, Los Angeles shared exciting news about an ocean of football money that will soon be flowing its way. A UCLA press release stated:

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Martin Jarmond, UCLA’s Alice and Nahum Lainer Family Director of Athletics, sent the following message to campus on June 30.

For the past century, decisions about UCLA Athletics have always been guided by what is best for our student-athletes, first and foremost, and our fans. Our storied athletics program, based in one of the biggest media markets in the nation, has always had unique opportunities and faced unique challenges. In recent years, however, seismic changes in collegiate athletics have made us evaluate how best to support our student-athletes as we move forward. After careful consideration and thoughtful deliberation, UCLA has decided to leave the Pac-12 Conference and join the Big Ten Conference at the start of the 2024–25 season…

As the oldest NCAA Division I athletic conference in the United States and with a footprint that will now extend from the Pacific to the Atlantic, Big Ten membership offers Bruins exciting new competitive opportunities and a broader national media platform for our student-athletes to compete and showcase their talents. Specifically, this move will enhance Name, Image and Likeness opportunities through greater exposure for our student-athletes and offer new partnerships with entities across the country… although this move increases travel distances for teams, the resources offered by Big Ten membership may allow for more efficient transportation options.

Speaking of travel resources, a number of away games in the Big Ten’s Midwest heartland will occur in states that California has officially condemned for not having suitably leftist social policies. As of the day after that joyous UCLA press release, the 20 states currently on the sanctions list are now due to become 22, under a 2016 state law called AB 1887. A reasonable person might figure that Americans in other states generally ought to be free to make up their own minds about local policies. A reasonable person might also consider the possibility that if 22 other states—and counting—don’t choose to mimic California law on such topics as transgender policy, perhaps it is California law that ought to be improved.

In any case, the California condemnations have consequences. The UCLA website states:

July 01, 2022
The California Attorney General’s office has updated the list of states where state funds may NOT be used for travel. Indiana and Utah are the latest states to be added.

As of July 1, 2022, there are now 20 states where AB 1887 prohibits the use of state funds to pay for travel to a state on the Attorney General’s list, except where one of the statutory exceptions applies. It does not affect travel that is paid for or reimbursed using non-state funds.

The following two states, Louisiana and Arizona, will be added to California’s travel restrictions list as listed below.











North Carolina

North Dakota



South Carolina

South Dakota




West Virginia

Louisiana (will be added on Aug 1, 2022)

Arizona (will be added on Sept 28, 2022)

An accompanying page of frequently asked questions on the UCLA website includes the following passage:

What if an athletic team has committed to participate in a bowl game or other competition in an affected state?

If a contract to participate in an event was entered into before January 1, 2017, then it would be permissible to use state funds to travel to participate in a bowl game or other type of sporting competition. If the contract was entered into on or after January 1, 2017, then state funds should not be used for the travel.

It sounds like UCLA will have to figure out how to avoid using state funds on a number of conference road trips, and perhaps even more if California adds more states to its banned deplorables list or if, for example, the independent University of Notre Dame also decides to join the Big Ten.

Perhaps UCLA can contrive a way to have a private entity fund some of its travel to the Midwest, but another prohibition also raises a hurdle, according to UCLA’s list of frequently asked questions:

Can an employee be required to travel to one of the prohibited states on the AG list?

No. California Government Code Section 11139.8(b)(1) prohibits UC from requiring any employee to travel to one of the states on the AG’s list (absent applicability of one of the statutory exceptions listed in Government Code Section 11139.8(c) …

The exceptions listed in the 2016 law don’t appear to apply to sporting events but the law does explicitly apply to a “state agency, department, board, authority, or commission, including an agency, department, board, authority, or commission of the University of California, the Board of Regents of the University of California, or the California State University…”

Will the coaching staffs, athletic trainers and other UCLA employees stay home when the kids go off to play? It’s possible UCLA has found a way to classify them all as private workers but this would be news to many Californians. The Sacramento Bee reported in April on the compensation of state employees:

The Bee obtains pay figures from the Controller’s Office for civil service workers along with employees of the University of California and California State University systems…

The top-earning California public employees are athletic coaches at UCLA and UC Berkeley, along with several doctors at University of California hospitals…

UCLA football coach Chip Kelly earned $4.3 million in 2020, for instance, and UCLA basketball coach Mike Cronin earned $3.3 million.

Perhaps UCLA will be aggressive in claiming exemptions. This brings us to the California governor’s trip to Montana, a state he officially deplores. His office told Emily Hoeven at Cal Matters that taxpayers didn’t fund his trip and then declined to answer, she reported on Twitter, when she inquired about security costs.

Now it seems that taxpayers did indeed pick up some travel costs. A New York Times story from Blake Hounshell and Michael Shear reports:

… while California did not pay for Newsom’s Montana trip, the state did pay for his security detail.

Anthony York, a spokesman for Newsom, said the trip was very much a personal, and not political, one…

York denied that Newsom’s office was being coy about his whereabouts, and said that the office was trying to balance transparency with safety. “On the security side, the law explicitly states there is an exemption for public safety, and the governor has to travel with security,” he said.

Public safety requires a trip to Montana? Will O’Neill tweets:

So…Gov. Newsom individually is the “public”?

It’s hard to imagine anyone claiming that California public safety requires lucrative sporting events in the Midwest.

It’s possible that UCLA can structure much of its activities to legally operate as private entities to get around California’s official condemnations of other states.

But won’t that just serve as additional proof that California’s cultural cancellations are unworkable, unreasonable, intolerant and overdue for repeal?

Well, the state of California has two years to fix this.


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