Over the past two years, the world of college athletics has turned into a whole new ball game. In one of the biggest shifts, the Big Ten decided in June to add the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Southern California to its conference beginning in 2024.

“This is about the future and where college athletics is going,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond told CBS News. “And you’ve got to operate in a position of strength if you want to excel in this environment, and that’s what we intend to do.”

He and the university saw a mix of reactions from Bruins fans and sports traditionalists after the announcement. The move, which will end the school’s 96-year run in the Pac-12 conference, was necessary to stay a top national competitor, Jarmond said.  

“One of the challenges we have here on the West Coast is when you have late games, for example, you’re not seen on the East Coast and Midwest like we should,” he said. “It’s like our talent deserts….being a part of a conference that spans from the Pacific to the Atlantic, you’re going to have that national platform.”

The Big Ten also secured a record TV deal with Fox, CBS and NBC that analysts believe is worth as much as $8 billion over the next seven years, ESPN reported. This means any school under the Big Ten will get a higher distribution from the conference, and it is projected to eventually distribute up to $100 million per year to each of its 16 members.

More money means more power when it comes to recruiting the next generation of the nations’ top athletes, according to Jarmond. Especially in the new world of NIL — or name, image, and likeness — deals that have exploded after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that college athletes should be allowed to control and make money off their own brand. The historic move opened doors for athletic programs to connect their players to national brands like Nike, Puma, Door Dash, United Airlines, and more. It has also led to a race among athletic directors and program heads to sign the biggest media deals, in order to bring in more resources.  

“To win, to compete at a high level, it takes resources, period,” Jarmond, who is in his third year as UCLA’s athletic director, said. 

The 42-year-old has no worries about the Bruins entering a new playing field. And his message to fans concerned about the end of several decades-long rivalries: the team will soon have new ones. 

“And the reality is, if you believe in college athletics, if you believe in our sports, if you want us to compete and succeed and win at a high level, you’re going to be supportive of a move of this nature,” he said.