John Wilner from the San Jose Mercury News perhaps has been doing the best work among tradmed reporters on covering all the nuts and bolts on Pac-10's expansion related matters. He was reporter who first threw up the infamous "zipper" concept on his College Hotline blog, which became one of the models for discussion among the Pac-10 brass on how to align the conference.
Wilner recently put up a post "connecting the expansion dots, adding up the TV dollars," which provided some interesting insights on what has been the sudden urge for number of Pac-10 administrators to go after TV dollars. While on surface lot of it seems to aimed towards driving up the visibility of the conference's football profile (and revenues generated from it), Wilner noted one of the key reasons behind it has been to save Olympic programs at number of Pac-10 schools struggling with their budgets:
League officials are hopeful that the new TV deal and other initiatives, including a football championship game, will generate an additional $40 million-$50 million in annual revenue beginning with the 2012-13 fiscal year.
That windfall, while generated by the football programs, won't be used specifically for the football programs. Rather, it will bolster ailing athletic department budgets and preserve that which the conference holds near and dear to its heart: the so-called Olympic sports.
Wilner then identifies some of the athletic departments that are in dire need of cash:
An extra $5 million could have saved Washington's swimming programs, which were cut because of budget woes. It could have saved Arizona State's men's tennis team. It could have saved jobs at Stanford and Washington.
And an extra $5 million would do wonders for Cal, where jobs and sports are in jeopardy because of the athletic department's $7 million-$10 million annual deficit.
Pretty interesting info. It should make us appreciate the kind of job Dan Guerrero has done in managing our athletic program. More on that after the jump.
Check out our athletic department's "2008-09 Financial Summary" (PDF), which shows UCLA balancing its budget amounting to a total of $64,896,000. As you can see, we get just under $2.7 million in support from the University (student registration fees). The rest of our almost $65 million budget is generated through ticket sales, donations, TV/media rights, endowments and corporate sponsorships.
That number is pretty impressive considering the struggles experienced by our football program during this past decade. Despite the fact that football program was mismanaged by the previous coaching regimes resulting in a long rebuilding project under the current one, the Athletic Department has been able to operate in black. I think it's pretty remarkable that UCLA was in the top-25 in terms of revenue generated among FBS programs two years ago (2007-08), despite struggling through Dorrell's last season. Per Brett McMurphy, the Senior NCAA Writer of AOL's Fanhouse UCLA's Athletic Department was ranked number 30 in total revenue for 2008-09, when CRN was leading a wreckage with a third string QB and no offensive line.
As far as we know the UCLA athletic department has managed to operate in black through these difficult years. It appears that DG has done a pretty admirable job of managing the athletic department's annual budget so that it makes a profit or breaks even and is not a burden to the University. This will be harder to do as tuition and fees continue to go up (the department has to pay the university for each of our scholarships and dorm spots). Around Spring of 2009, Guerrero, Coach Rick Neuheisel, and Ben Howland led the way in Morgan Center by agreeing to take paycuts (forgoing as much as 10% of their salaries that year), that was part of $1 million cut from the 09-10 budget without affecting the performance and well-being of our student-athletes.
Obviously, we think there is lot of room for improvement when it comes to UCLA athletics. We are going to withhold judgment on the job CRN is doing for another two years. We will have to see how Ben Howland rebounds from last year's unacceptable season (although he seems to be heading in the right track). While DG should get credit for the hiring of John Savage, Kelly Inouye Perez in softball, the jury is still out on men's soccer coach. Plus there are also the matters of Pauley renovation and needed upgrade for baseball facilities. We also strongly believe the department needs to continue to build on its communication and fundraising efforts, taking advantage of the tools available in today's world of New Media.
Still, despite all the challenges, successes and mixed-results, I think Guerrero deserves a lot of credit for the fiscal management of our program. It certainly appears that despite rough financial times, he has managed to provide our coaches and athletes with the resources to compete at the championship level, both on and off the field, while keeping the budget in mind and not imposing unnecessary burden on the University. He deserves a lot of credit for this as he has certainly made sure that UCLA is not in desperate situation like other schools in the Pac-10.
Now if the hoops team rebounds and the football team keeps making progress year after year, taking us where we belong, this department will only get stronger in the coming years.