November 15, 2011
I want to start off this week's blog by remembering a great Bruin, UCLA Vice Chancellor emeritus for Student Affairs, Dr. Winston Doby, who passed away last week. Dr. Doby was a pillar of strength for the UCLA administration for many years. He championed a multitude of programs that gave UCLA much of its multicultural and academic prowess, and his programs and influence helped UCLA to enroll a broad cross-section of students from across the diverse populations of the Los Angeles area and throughout the state of California.
In addition, he was a great friend to and supporter of Athletics and, especially, our student-athletes. On a personal note, Winston was always available to me for counsel and encouragement. He was a constant reminder for me to always value the wisdom and insight of "those who have passed this way before." Dr. Doby will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.
Year of Transition
The 2011-12 school year is truly one of transition for all of our teams that calls Pauley Pavilion home - from men's and women's volleyball to men's and women's basketball and gymnastics. Our student-athletes have been subject to a unique set of circumstances that would not have been in play if we were competing in Pauley this season.
They have had to play their games in a new home, or in the case of the men's basketball team, three new homes. A change like this is not easily accomplished. All those on our athletic department staff and at UCLA Recreation have toiled long hours to make sure all the teams displaced by the renovation feel as much at home as possible in their new locations.
The Wooden Center has already provided a great home-court advantage to all of the Bruin teams that have played there thus far. It is an intimate setting unlike many others in the Pac-12 Conference and has been a big part of our success so far this school year.
If you had seen the Sports Arena before they started work, you would have been blown away last Friday night when we hosted LMU. The effort that our facilities group expended in making it as much of a UCLA venue as it is now is truly commendable. Kudos also to the staff at the Sports Arena who worked hand-in-hand with our staff to make the transformation as turn-key as possible.
I know that being away from Pauley for a year will continue to be a challenge for all of you, but I am proud of the patience show by our fans as you continue to stand by your beloved Bruins, regardless of what venue will be their temporary home for the year.
Following the Bouncing Ball
The official start of the basketball season with a doubleheader last Friday gave me the rare chance to see both our men's and women's teams compete in their season openers on the same day.
I enjoyed being part of the crowd in the Wooden Center for the debut of women's coach Cori Close against McNeese State. Even the casual observer would have been able to notice Friday that she wears her heart on her sleeve and bleeds Bruin Blue, but as the Athletic Director, I was especially proud of what she and her team accomplished on the court. Transition years are often very difficult, but this team will play hard all year long.
With Coach Cori's win Friday, combined with a victory against Tennessee Tech on Sunday, they now advance to the preseason WNIT semifinals on Thursday against the nation's top-ranked team, the Baylor Bears.
The men's team struggled out of the gate, but Coach Howland and his coaching staff will use this loss to stress the importance of being ready to play against any opponent on our schedule this year. As in past years, the Bruins should be prepared to get every team's best effort.
Notes on New Pauley
By the time you read this blog, you are likely to have seen some published reports about UCLA seeking an affiliated name for the new Pauley Pavilion when it opens in the fall of 2012. We are indeed investigating that possibility at present. If it comes to fruition, I can assure you that it will be tastefully done.
We are pursuing this revenue stream after consulting with and receiving the blessing of the Pauley family. Any revenue generated from such a deal will go directly into paying off the debt on the renovations.
Speaking of New Pauley, I thought this would be a good time to inform you of some exciting news that some of us in Athletics have been keeping very close to the vest for the last few months. We have been working with the Wooden family on commissioning a statue of Coach Wooden that will adorn the new plaza on the building's North side, along Bruin Walk. This statue is being made possible thanks to the generous contributions of Jim and Carol Collins.
The sculptor is Blair Buswell, who is the head sculptor at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, where he has sculpted busts for the past 25 years. I, along with some of my staff, was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit his studio and see his initial maquettes (concepts) for the statue when the football team played at Utah last weekend. The studio contains life-size replicas of some of his outstanding work, including statues of Jack Nicklaus, Mickey Mantle and Merlin Olsen ... what an amazing place.
I cannot wait until we unveil the final product.
While it was extremely unfortunate that the football team was unable to sustain the momentum generated by back-to-back wins the two previous weeks in its game against Utah, this Saturday's game against Colorado will give us the opportunity to end our home conference season on a high note, as well as to honor our 19 seniors, who will be playing in their final game at the Rose Bowl.
We will need a win at home on Saturday and another on the road at USC the following week to assure ourselves of a spot in the conference championship game and all but wrap up a spot in a bowl game, two of the goals we set out to achieve before the season.
Revelry Before The Rivalry
This coming Friday night (November 18), we will host one of the more captivating events that we put on each year: Revelry Before the Rivalry IV, at the Bel Air Bay Club in Pacific Palisades. The event benefits the Wooden Athletic Fund and is a special time for former UCLA student-athletes and Bruin fans to have the chance to unite before we play USC in football the following week.
If you can make it out, in addition to introducing yourself to the several former Bruins who will be there, I strongly suggest you keep an eye on the silent auction, as there should be several unique surprises and experiences up for grabs.
NCAA Soccer Tournament Tracker
The women's soccer team, led by its three first-team All-Pac-12 players, >defeated New Mexico 1-0 in a first round game at Drake Stadium last Friday night and now is preparing for the possibility of playing two games in three days at home this weekend.
The Bruins will host San Diego on Friday at 7:30 pm in a second round game, and, with a victory there, will host the winner of the Miami-Long Beach State game on Sunday at 2 pm.
The men, who just completed a 10-0 Pac-12 season and won the league title, received a first round bye from the selection committee and will welcome the winner of the Virginia-Delaware game, also on Sunday at Drake, at 7 pm. Kudos to head coach Jorge Salcedo, who was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year, and to sophomore midfielder Kelyn Rowe, who earned Conference Player of the Year honors. In all, 12 Bruins were selected all-conference, the most since 2003.
Olympic Sports Recap
The top-ranked men's water polo team defeated Long Beach State and Pepperdine last week and will host USC this Friday at 7 pm and UCSB at 2 pm on Saturday. Tickets for the USC match are being sold in advance ... The No. 2 women's volleyball team split a pair of matches against the Oregon schools on the weekend and will host the Arizona schools at the Wooden Center this weekend ... The men's cross country team finished sixth at the West Regional at Stanford and narrowly missed out on an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship meet ... The women's swimming and diving team's performance against the Arizona schools was highlighted by a meet record against Arizona in the 3M competition by sophomore Paulina Guzman ...
A week ago when I mentioned National Letter of Intent early signing day, it looked like it was going to be a good day for the Bruins. Well, it turns out I was wrong, but just slightly - it was a GREAT day, perhaps even our best signing day in the last decade.
Many of the Bruin head coaches who signed prospects have said they landed all or most of their prime targets. Of course, all of our coaches and current student-athletes deserve a lot of credit for that, but special thanks are due to Michael Sondheimer and his centralized recruiting team who are the backbone of our unique recruiting mechanism that has been, and continues to be so successful.
Ask Dan Question of the Week
Q: I read in the LA Times last week that UCLA spent $200,000 to renovate the LA Sports Arena. Is that what you expected to spend this year "Out of Pauley"?
Patrick F. Hunter
A: Patrick, converting the Sports Arena into our temporary home was not something we took lightly as a department. In fact, dressing and upgrading the venue was something that was contemplated from the very beginning of the Pauley reconstruction process, regardless of what venue we determined would be our home this season.
To that end, the overall Pauley Pavilion renovation budget included costs for mitigation. $200,000 was marked for the Sports Arena. Other things contemplated in the renovation budget included such things as: an upgrade of Collins Court in the Wooden Center, the various costs related to the relocation of our teams that have had to move their games and/or practices out of Pauley, and offsetting the cost of transporting fans from campus to the various venues being utilized as a part of the Bruin Road Show.
Thank you all for your submissions - please know that each question submitted was read, and please don't forget to submit a question to firstname.lastname@example.org this week.
Director of Athletics, UCLA