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Bruin Bites: Looking at Washington and Athletic Department Revenue Streams

UCLA Men's Basketball prepares for the last game of the Pac-12 regular season, against the Washington Huskies in Seattle. The claim that Dan Guererro's leadership has been fiscally responsible has some merit, but does not tell the whole story.


After watching the UCLA Women's team defeat Utah in their Pac-12 Tournament opener yesterday afternoon, the Men will step onto the court later this morning at Hec Ed to finish the Pac-12 regular season and attempt to clinch at least a share of that title against the Washington Huskies. Tip-off is scheduled for 11am Pacific time, and will be televised by CBS.

Chris Foster noted that Howland's 8-game losing streak in Seattle is the longest losing streak on an opponent's home court for UCLA since World War II. Jack Wang talked about Washington's conference-best rebounding margin in his game preview. Considering how badly the Bruins were outmatched on the boards by Washington State on Wednesday, the reality behind that fact really isn't necessary for the Huskies to have a strong day in that category. One help for the Bruins is the expected return of Travis Wear.

Earlier in the week, Ajax mentioned a Jon Wilner post which offered as partial justification for Dan Guererro's conference-leading salary the idea that he has managed Morgan Center's finances well. Given the struggles that Cal has faced with keeping their athletic department withing its means, as well as other schools such as Tennessee, there is some credit that we can give Dan Guererro for not spending like a Chianti-drunken sailor. But how is he keeping budget in the Black?

Keep in mind that I was not an Anderson student or a Biz Econ grad, but I do know that at a very basic level, keeping a budget in the black means that you do not spend more money than you (expect to) take in. To keep a series of annual budgets in line, an administrator can either expand his revenue base in order to support greater expenses, or he can control expenses in light of static revenues.

USA Today has for several years collected raw data and provided analysis of the athletic finances of most public NCAA Division-1 members. As part of this effort, they have made available a financial database - currently providing data for FY2006-2011. We have previously written about what we have found from earlier editions of the database, as well as the effect that increasing some expenses can lead to future revenue growth.

The story still has not changed: Revenue, particularly in the areas that a good AD/department should be able to affect - ticket sales (after 2007) and alumni/corporate donations - have been stagnant. In the same time, many other D-1 programs (in the Pac-12 and beyond) have seen those revenue streams expand. Heck, Virginia Tech takes in nearly double the donation revenue as UCLA.

The Pac-12's recent media rights deal, and resulting increase the total payout to Morgan Center is not yet included in that database. While that money has allowed Morgan Center's budget to increase, it does nothing to help gain an competitive fiscal advantage over our peers in the conference. If anything, we are at a slight comparative disadvantage, as part of that rights deal caused UCLA and Southern Cal to give up bonus payments which historically had been paid out. In other words, that payout does not help us in the Pac-12 fiscal arms race, while Guererro and his staff have displayed little success in gaining an advantage via the other revenue streams which they can and should be maximizing.