Revenue and Ticket Sales Fall at UCLA: Dan Guerrero's Continuing Reign of Error

Morgan Center Fail

I'm going to start this with two statistics that present a stark reality:

UCLA's Athletic Department's operating revenue has dropped $4,302,335. Ticket sales have dropped $5,667,385.

USA Today has compiled a handy college athletics finance database that compiles the revenue colleges bring in due to athletics as well as the expenses each college spends on athletics.  The numbers aren't pretty for Dan Guerrero and his clueless minions (including proven liar Mark Harlan) at the Morgan Center.

Here's how UCLA's numbers break down under Guerrero's "leadership" at Morgan Center:

2004-2005: operating revenue was $46,013,054 and ticket sales were $14,710,543
2005-2006: operating revenue was $52,066,786 and ticket sales were $13,895,922 (+ $6,053,732; -  $814,621)
2006-2007: operating revenue was $61,309,668 and ticket sales were $19,459,464 (+ $9,242,882; + $5,563,542)
2007-2008: operating revenue was $66,088,264 and ticket sales were $22,402,565 (+ $4,778,596; + $2,943,101)
2008-2009: operating revenue was $66,177,866 and ticket sales were $24,996,824 (+ $89,602; + $2,594,259)
2009-2010: operating revenue was $61,875,531 and ticket sales were $19,329,439 (- $4,302,335; - $5,667,385)

And there you go folks: operating revenue made gains, then slowed and peaked around the 2008-2009 fiscal year.  The fact that operating revenue and ticket sales have dropped so dramatically is a major strike against Dan Guerrero.

Now, Dan Guerrero has been reeling for mistake after mistake (after mistake after mistake, just as a small sample) which has made us openly wonder if Dan is the right man for the job.  These numbers are a fresh blow to Guerrero and again make us wonder if Dan Guerrero should continue to be at the helm at Morgan Center.

More breakdown after the jump.

Of course, the Dan Guerrero apologists are going to come out and blame the downturn on the struggling economy or declining state support for the UC system.  However, as USA Today noted, that argument just doesn't hold water:

More than $470 million in new money poured into major college athletics programs last year, boosting spending on sports even as many of the parent universities struggled with funding reductions during tough economic times, a USA TODAY analysis has found.

In fact, it's a problem the Bruins shouldn't be struggling with.  I compared the numbers for two schools with the same academic/athletic profile as UCLA (in other words, top-tier academics and an athletic program with a track record of success and tradition): Michigan and Texas.

Here's how Michigan's numbers broke down:

2004-2005: operating revenue was $78,424,186 and ticket sales were $31,432,123
2005-2006: operating revenue was $85,452,441 and ticket sales were $36,681,373 (+ $7,028,255; +  $5,249,250)
2006-2007: operating revenue was $89,079,982 and ticket sales were $35,865,979 (+ $3,627,541; - $815,394)
2007-2008: operating revenue was $99,027,105 and ticket sales were $40,258,325 (+ $9,947,123; + $4,392,346)
2008-2009: operating revenue was $95,193,030 and ticket sales were $37,541,590 (- $3,834,075; - $2,716,735)
2009-2010: operating revenue was $106,874,031 and ticket sales were $41,715,138 (+ $11,681,001; + $4,173,548)

In sum, Michigan's revenue has been steadily increasing.  Yes, there was a $3.8 million downturn in 2008-2009 (during the height of the economic downturn), but Michigan bounced back with a vengeance, increasing operating revenue by nearly $11.7 million for 2009-2010.  Overall, Michigan has been steadily increasing their operating revenue over six years (an overall increase of $28,449,845 in operating revenue), while ticket sales have been up-and-down, but overall trending upward (an overall increase of $10,283,015 in ticket sales).

UCLA, on the other hand, has peaked and is on the downward slide.

Let's look at how Texas' numbers broke down:

2004-2005: operating revenue was $89,651,682 and ticket sales were $33,507,576
2005-2006: operating revenue was $97,756,776 and ticket sales were $34,280,260 (+ $8,105,094; +  $772,684)
2006-2007: operating revenue was $105,048,632 and ticket sales were $44,562,934 (+ $7,291,856; + $10,282,674)
2007-2008: operating revenue was $120,288,370 and ticket sales were $44,691,119 (+ $15,239,738; + $128,185)
2008-2009: operating revenue was $138,459,149 and ticket sales were $55,394,209 (+ $18,170,779; + $10,703,090)
2009-2010: operating revenue was $143,555,354 and ticket sales were $56,741,662 (+ $5,096,205; + $1,347,453)

All I can say is: wow. Texas' operating revenue hasn't just steadily increased, it's increased by leaps and bounds in just six years time (an increase of $53,903,672 in operating revenue and $23,234,086 in ticket sales!).  Despite the economic downturn that has pretty much reached every corner of not just the United States, but the globe, Texas has managed to increase their operating revenue each year and increase their ticket sales each year.  And it's not like Texas is some slack-jawed second-rate college: like UCLA, it's a top-tier public academic institution.

This came as no surprise to USA Today:

Even with 2010's more modest growth rate, these increases run counter to the national trend of declining state support for public colleges, many of which have imposed layoffs, salary freezes, cuts in course offerings and substantial tuition and fee hikes. While about a third of the 218 Division I schools trimmed athletics budgets last year, about a third either increased their spending faster than money came in, or spending cuts didn't keep up with losses.

While UCLA's overall numbers have increased in the same six year period, the slowdown and peak in 2008-2009 and reversal of three years' gains in just one year is a major cause for concern for UCLA.  The bureaucrats at Murphy Hall have given Dan Guerrero a free pass over the years because he's kept UCLA out of NCAA scandals and because Morgan Center has been in the black.  Now, on the pace he's on, that second part won't remain true much longer.

And the money isn't a reflection of the product on the field.  Yes, Texas has been enjoying a golden era for their university in both basketball and football, which probably has some effect on the increased revenue stream they've been seeing.  But Michigan disproves the notion that Guerrero apologists are sure to offer up: if the programs were winning, the money would flow.   Michigan, like UCLA, has two storied revenue programs, both with tradition, and both of which have struggled during this six year period.  Michigan basketball has never returned to the heights they enjoyed during the Fab Five era and Michigan football has been a shell of its former glorious self, being beat up the Columbus Cheaters on a yearly basis.  Yet, despite that, Michigan (with the exception of one year) has seen a steady increase in both operating revenue and ticket sales.

These numbers are a damning indictment of Dan Guerrero's reign of error at UCLA.  The question many Bruins, myself included, is when are we going to get a forward-looking, intelligent, media-savvy athletic director who can guide UCLA, which has just as much, if not more potential for exponential revenue growth and success (second-largest media market, elite academic institution, popular city with young people, recruiting hotbed for both sports, etc.) than both Texas and Michigan.

Dan Guerrero and Morgan Center's never-ending acceptance of mediocrity is getting old.  Pretty soon, it will start costing UCLA in more than just athletic championships, but in real dollars.

GO BRUINS

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