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Pauley Restoration Update: Still On Target For 2012-13?

So in case you missed it last week Brian Dohn ran an interesting update re. Pauley restoration in the Daily News. Apparently DG thinks the Pauley restoration will still get done by the current target of the start of 2012-12 season:

Guerrero added that fund raising could move to a public stage in the next few months and ground should be broken early next year.

"We're making very good progress on all fronts - fund raising, timetables, things of that nature," Guerrero said. "Everyone is committed on this campus to see this project through."

DG made the assertion despite firing of Richard Bergmen -  "the Executive Committee chairman" - who was in charge of overseeing the renovation:

Bergman, who pledged $1 million to the  The firing (Chancellor Gene Block's decision per the DN report. - BN Ed.) was borne out of Bergman's disapproval of how UCLA's athletic department plans to partially fund the estimated $185 million project, and also a disagreement in design plans. project, said he was informed of Block's decision late last month.

"I support the project and the facilities are desperately needed," Bergman said. "The set of plans, and the financing arrangement that UCLA has put forth, I just can't support. They basically said, `You've got to go and support the project, whatever we have here,' and I can't do that. I don't believe that's what my charge was, so I let them know I can't support this particular set of plans."

Hmm. I have never heard much of Richard Bergman. From a quick google search it appears that he is a UCLA alumnus who has been a big donor to the university over the years. From an article published in the LA Times in 2000 re. alumni donating to UCLA:

UCLA alumnus Richard A. Bergman was one of those who gave a hefty sum and has helped solicit gifts from others. He and his wife donated $1 million to endow a professorship in business economics, a popular undergraduate major that didn't exist when he attended UCLA in the early 1970s.

"It's something that I thought was missing when I was there," Bergman said. He transferred to Cal State Northridge for his senior year so he could get the accounting courses he needed to be more employable as a certified public accountant.

Now an investment firm manager, Bergman said he wants to give something back to the institutions that helped him become successful.

"I got a great education at UCLA," he said, "and want to do something to help those who follow me."

Well while I am sure the university administration officials are grateful for what Bergman has done for fundraising over the years, I don't blame university officials if the firing decision was based on wanting to get rid of donor who was attempting to micro manage a little too much.

Apparently Bergman made a $1 million "irrevocable pledge" to UCLA and it is unclear whether UCLA officials will ask him to honor that pledge. For his part Bergman (per the report at least) is trying to offer his own "solutions" re. his specific concerns with the design of the renovation project. From Dohn's report:

"I made an irrevocable pledge," Bergman said. "There are some discussions as to whether they've given me an option to let me out if I want. I still believe in the project, but I don't believe in this financing plan, and this specific design plan."

In an e-mail to the "Campaign of Champions Executive Committee" announcing he was being replaced, Bergman wrote he "pledged to honor the legacy, principles and core values developed under" former basketball coach John Wooden and "I look forward to continuing to fulfill that pledge."

On April 22, Bergman is hosting a meeting at a hotel near the UCLA campus to discuss the renovation project with potential donors.

Although he invited UCLA athletic administrators to attend, sources said none are planning to do so.

"My goal is not to impose any solutions," Bergman said. "It's to sort of offer my view that there are (other solutions) out there, and UCLA should look at those."

Uhmm. Again I wouldn't blame UCLA officials if they decide to move on beyond this guy if he tries to impose his own "solutions" on the school via his individual outreach to other donors. That wouldn't be good form on Bergman's part.

Speaking of the project DG maintains that fundraising is on target (along with the timetable of finishing it by 2012-13 season):

When the UC Regents meet during the first week of May, UCLA's athletic department must have $50 million in written, verbal and cash pledges to proceed with the project. Guerrero said $46 million has been pledged, although sources said only $17 million is in signed pledges.

"We anticipate that we will get to the $50 million mark by next week," said Guerrero, who acknowledged the nation's economic plight is being felt.

"We have not seen anyone that we expected to support the project, not support the project. There may be cases where we possibly anticipated seeing a larger donation, but not to the degree that it has hurt our effort."

Well at this point I think we have heard enough talk from UCLA officials. While I am grateful to DG for bringing us Ben Howland and so far his move wrt to bringing in Rick Neuheisel looks all right, I really believe how he handles this Paule restoration project will be a huge measure of his legacy at UCLA. DG needs to get this project done in a timely fashion so that Coach Howland and his Ben Ball warriors get to play the first game in a renovated Pauley with Coach Wooden sitting in his familiar place. If DG doesn't get that done, it would be a huge black mark in his tenure at Westwood. We will leave it at that for now.