UCLA Coach Jim Mora has plenty about which to cheer: a program on the rise… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
UCLA Coach Jim Mora met this week with the firm that has been hired to design a football building adjacent to Spaulding Field. The project is expected to cost about $50 million.
Now all UCLA needs is $48 million more to make it happen.
Athletic program officials should move quickly. UCLA's success under Mora has fans — and potential donors — interested. There was a 21% increase in football attendance last season, which translated into more than $6 million in additional revenue. The extra money allowed UCLA to raise the salaries of assistant coaches, which helped Mora retain his staff.
Retaining Mora may hinge on raising more money for a new football facility.
Mora's Bruins were 9-5 in 2012, the best first season for a UCLA coach since Terry Donahue went 9-2-1 in 1976. The Bruins are 5-1 and ranked 12th this season. Success has increased the profit margin — and fueled speculation that another college program or NFL team could swoop in and try to coax Mora away.
UCLA's football program took in $35,656,834 last school year, resulting in a net of $15,507,459, according to Equity in Athletics Data Analysis figures released this week. The only other UCLA sport to turn a profit was men's basketball, which netted $347,381. UCLA's athletic department had a balanced budget of $83,926,720.
"What the student-athletes and Coach Mora have done is put a great product on the field to talk about" when fundraising, said Mark Harlan, senior associate athletic director at UCLA.
Harlan said a new football facility was critical to maintaining that success financially and on the field.
UCLA will see the jewel of the Pac-12 Conference when the Bruins play at Oregon on Saturday. The Ducks have what may be the premier football facility in the nation. UCLA does not have Nike's Phil Knight writing checks, but Washington and USC also raised funds for impressive new football facilities.
UCLA has already tapped its fan base and boosters for $62 million in donations toward the $136-million Pauley Pavilion renovation. As of Oct. 1, UCLA still owed $51 million on that project.
Basketball Coach Steve Alford has also been promised a new practice facility, which will cost an additional $15 million to 30 million, judging by similar facilities recently constructed elsewhere.
Prominent UCLA boosters have said privately that they are a little weary of the constant fundraising.
"I think in some cases there are people who will support both [Pauley Pavilion and a football building]," Harlan said. "But there are some who are passionate about football who are not involved in other projects.
"These projects are always challenging in different ways. We have seen an increase in the donor base the last 16 months. We had a record year in donations."
The Wooden Athletic Fund brought in $11.5 million last year, an increase of $5 million. A chunk of that came from fees tied to season tickets, which can require a donation from $100 to $2,500 per ticket in football. The add-on cost is $100 to $17,000 per ticket in basketball.
Mora promised that UCLA would have five offensive linemen on the field Saturday. He did not name names.
Starting tackle Simon Goines did not practice and was limping. If Goines can't play, Xavier Su'a-Filo is expected to move from guard to replace him, with freshman Scott Quessenberry starting at guard.
"I think it will be interesting to see how Simon responds with that knee," Mora said. "We'll see if he can hold up."
On the rise
UCLA's football improved considerably in the latest Graduation Success Rates released by the NCAA. The Bruins had an 82% graduation rate for players who entered school from 2003 to '06, the second-highest score in the Pac-12 Conference behind Stanford, which had a 93% graduation rate.