Happy Sunday funday. If you are like me, it's been a tough few days of digesting the Baylor beatdown. Like many that were at the Q and fellow BNers, I drove down on 12/26 to enjoy the full SD/Holiday Bowl experience. I decided to be festive and attend the Holiday Ball, hosted by the Wooden Athletic Fund at the SD Hall of Champions in Baloba Park. It seemed like a pretty fun opportunity and relatively good deal; $60 pre-sale ($75 at the door) for dinner, open bar, live music, lots of alumni, supporting UCLA and attending an event hosted by The Big Redhead, Jeff Moorad and Eric Karros! The food was ok. the bars were solid, the music was very good and the mic time of Walton was hilarious. In walking around the venue it was apparent that there should have been at least another 100+ people there.
Let's back up a few days... About a week before the ball, I called the WAF to ask if I would receive an email confirmation with event details as other than being charged, I had no confirmation that my guest & I were RSVP'd. I was told by a Morgan Center Rep. that I would surely receive a confirmation email with event details- an email confirmation was never received, very unprofessional... Upon arriving, thankfully the rain stopped because there was no valet parking option (self-parking in a big lot, which is not a problem for me but the crowd had many seniors that had to trek across a parking lot in damp, cold conditions). Additionally, I had no idea about attire or the meal. My limited time in Washington, DC taught me that a ball is an event that you dress up for so we obliged. There were only three bow-ties in the whole place (also fine, it's SoCal! But a clarifying statement by the WAF about attire is warranted). We checked in, got cool wristbands, and had photos taken with the spirit squad-but have no idea where those pics are or how to view them... The dinner was buffet style taco bar & waco bar. I guess they were trying to stay "in touch" with the fast food esq. college culture of westwood. I was personally ok with the food but many folks were openly complaining about it and left early to have dinner at a restaurant. The music was great and thankfully folks danced a bit. The surprise guest was Coach Mora and he did not disappoint.
Interactions with the Morgan Center Staff: In the process of mingling, I met and talked with four Morgan Center employees including D. Guerrero. All of the public employees asked for opinions on the evening's event and I was blunt about my disappointment that there was not more people. I enquired about outreach to alumni or other UCLA affiliated groups and ultimately, it came out that there was no/little outreach to the Alumni Association or other official or unofficial UCLA related groups (one employee told me that the SD alumni chapter was contacted) to increase attendance and raise more $. In fact, how many of you on BN knew about the Holiday Ball? I bet some Bruin fans in town for the game would've loved the chance to have photos taken with Walton, Karros, etc. Nobody I met at the two tailgates I attended knew about it. The three employees I spoke with about the lack of strategic Development Focused Event Planning were fairly humble and offered me business cards so as to continue to express my thoughts on how the event could've been improved so future events don't repeat the same mistakes, fair enough.
I felt fairly satisfied that I was able to comfortably voice my opinions to these representatives of our University and moved on to the dance floor for a bit. After a few songs, I spotted the highest paid (public-school) AD in the PAC 12 swaying two and fro... I quickly approached and introduced. When asked about what I thought of the event, I gave the same, fair answer that was given to his colleagues. However, DG had a decidedly different tone to my comments. Rather than listen and say "sure, I understand, here's how you can contact me for further discussion, etc..." I was given sound bite answers like "that's why we need more people to open their pocketbooks" and giving to the WAF is giving to the students and their success." Classy. When I informed his that I graduated in 2008 and am a lifetime alumni association member, football season ticket holder and WAF contributor and most importantly a CA tax payer he replied "good job, now let's get more to do like you!" I then knew I had the door open to address bigger issues like investing in our training facilities, paying coaches and assistants comprable salaries to their division laterals, and integrating events (like the Ball) with other UCLA affiliated groups to improve awareness, exposure and fundraising capabilities. All of these issues were responded to by straw man or apple & orange responses. Embarrassing. I closed by stating the the greater Bruin Nation and family frankly deserve better representation and that overly paid public employees need to do more to earn their jobs and be help accountable for costly, wrong and inadequate decision making. His frustration started to show. His most laughable quote was in response to my 80 yrd. practice field comment in which he stated "The Steelers play on an 80 yrd. field and they've won more than anyone! Ask the coaches! Those are interent rumors. Do you read the internet?!" ROFL if I wasn't so disappointed. I'm all for paying employees, presidents, coaches, whatever, the appropriate salary for a job well-done. But this public-employee that earns nearly $700k annually, has overseen a program, our program that has barely maintained a level of embarrassing mediocrity.
The Holiday Ball was fun (thanks to great alumni! Shot out to Alex & Kendra, two of the other under 50 yr. old attendees) but under attended, under prepared and under whelming. While the taste in my mouth was not as terrible as the one left after getting told to sit down on defensive 3rd. downs in the first quarter and the subsequent beat down by Baylor the following evening, it was sadly, pretty bland. I will be emailing the staff members of the Morgan Center to address the issues that arose in our conversations at the Holiday Ball. As public employees that are tasked with representing our University, they have an opportunity to "right the ship" as best as they can. But, a ship crew can only do so much when the captain that presides over all is too busy, too distracted or too
Chianti (via nicoblue&gold)
_____ to do his job and lead our AD with competence...