Bill Walton has broken his silence on UCLA’s impending jump to the Big Ten, and his opinion is sure to resonate well beyond Westwood.
Walton, the unofficial ambassador of the Conference of Championships, told Pac-12 reporter John Canzano that he is not in favor of UCLA leaving the conference to join the Big Ten.
“I don’t like this attempted move, I don’t support it, I hope it does not happen,” Walton said in a written statement. “I went to UCLA — gladly, willingly, and proudly, it was my dream that dream never included the Big 10,” he said.
Walton said he has spoken to no one “other than the highest-level directors of athletics at UCLA” who supports the Bruins’ move to the Big Ten.
Walton cited several reasons why the move is a bad idea, including its negative impact on the mental and physical health of UCLA student-athletes, harmful implications for California, Berkeley, and the increased costs associated with joining the Big 10, which in Walton’s opinion will negate the projected revenue increases of the proposed move.
Walton is a Pac-10/12 lifer. He played at UCLA from 1971-74, then watched his son, Luke, play at Arizona from 1999-2003. Walton has called Pac-12 games since 2012 for both the Pac-12 Networks and ESPN.
UCLA and USC’s move to the Big 10 has significant implications for the UA, too, whether it’s the amount of money Arizona stands to earn in the next Pac-12 media rights deal, a diminished recruiting presence in Los Angeles, or the prospect of losing rivalries, like with UCLA in men’s basketball and softball.
Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd addressed the move at Pac-12 men’s basketball media day last week, saying he was disappointed because he loves competing against UCLA and USC.
“But again, they got to make the decisions that they think is best for their athletic programs,” said Lloyd.
Lloyd said he would love to continue to the Bruins and Trojans going forward by way of non-conference scheduling.