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Pac-10 Media Day Roundup: UCLA Dropping The Ball Re. Pauley Renovation

So the Pac-10 had its annual Media Day yesterday. The big UCLA related news from yesterday was the latest development (or lack there of) in the Pauley renovation project. Dohn has a report on it this morning. Although Dohn doesn’t come out and say it, we will do it. Dan Guerrero and the UCLA Administration have made no discernible progress in this project:

UCLA's administration has pledged approximately $25 million for the long-planned renovation of Pauley Pavilion, and the school is hoping to use bonds to finance another $50million to $60 million to support the project, according to sources.

It leaves the athletic department needing to raise approximately $100 million for the project, expected to cost from $175 million to $185million, but there is no timetable for breaking ground or completing the refurbishment.

So let me get this straight. We are looking at a project that will now cost $185 million with no solid time table?

Didn’t DG tell us last Jan that UCLA had fired the first architectural firm – HOK Sport – it hired to design the renovation project because it came up with a price tag of $200 million (after the school was planning to spend about $100 million)?

Keep in mind DG and UCLA had paid HOK sports more than half a million dollars, wasting one year to come up with a price tag. So after hiring a new firm (NBBJ) in February, once again we are pretty much where we were last January with a price tag approximating $200 million?

That just doesn’t sound right at all. Also there is nothing in Dohn’s report that indicates DG and UCLA are prepared for contingency plans in case the project budget goes beyond $185 million dollars.

In fact, DG and UCLA haven’t secured an approval of the project from UC Regents

However, the next step in the process will take place Nov.17, when the University of California regents vote on whether to approve the plan to move forward with the project, which is design development.

The $25 million pledge from the school is to cover costs for infrastructure to renovate Pauley Pavilion, which opened in 1965.

And the fund-raising remains in “quiet stages”:

The fund-raising remains in the quiet stages as the athletic department continues to speak with donors about lead gifts to fund the project. Once detailed drawings of the renovation are available, which isn't expected until 2009, the athletic department's fund-raising arm will begin a public push for the rest of the needed money.

What are these guys waiting for? Are they waiting to send out their pitch when Coach celebrates his 100th birthday?

I like Dan Guerrero a lot. I will always give him credit for executing a flawless hiring process that brought us Ben Howland. I think he made a good choice in bringing in CRN. I also think it’s not fair to blame him for Karl Dorrell, when he really wanted to hire Mike Riley but was influenced by the administration figures such as Al Carnesale. Yet, I am deeply disappointed and concerned (to say the least) with the ongoing lollygagging with Pauley’s renovation. This is not a project which Guerrero can afford to waste time and advance at the same pace other projects in federal or state institutions move at.

If Coach Wooden doesn’t get to witness the unveiling of new Pauley, it will be a huge shame. I hope Guerrero and the Morgan Center realizes that there has to be sense of urgency because if they drop the ball on this project, we will never forgive them, and will permanently tarnish Guerrero’s reputation as an Athletic Director at UCLA.

Moving on to other news and notes from yesterday’s media day, Coach Howland talked about how he is always concerned about depth:

[T]he number on UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland's mind these days is 11. That's how many scholarship players his Bruins will try to survive with, two fewer than the 13 permitted.

That hit home when senior center Alfred Aboya banged up his knee in practice Wednesday. He's expected to miss at least a day, maybe more.

"I say it every year," Howland said.

But what was a hope for good health previously is now a necessity.

And speaking of healthy nothing new on the ND front. Howland said that his “foot felt better” after taking an injection this past week but he was still in a walking boot earlier this week.

As for notes on other coaches you can check out the local press coverage here and here. I liked what Tony Bennett had to say about CBH:

Washington State Coach Tony Bennett paid UCLA's Ben Howland a compliment when he was asked why the Bruins were such an overwhelming pick.

"My father [Dick Bennett] has coached against so many great guys and I asked him who some of the best were. He gave me two names. Charlie Spoonhour and Ben Howland. He loves Bob Knight and all those guys, but that's the kind of coach Coach Howland is," Bennett said.

Bennett is not only one of the better young coaches in the country, he is all class. WSU is lucky to have him. It will be interesting to see how they adjust without Lowe and Weaver this season. I think they will have another good season since Bennett has them so well grounded in defense and fundamentals (sort of similar to a coach we all know too well).