UCLA’s decision on Ben Howland might be about dollars, not sense

UCLA’s decision on Ben Howland might be about dollars, not sense
UCLA Coach Ben Howland gives direction during a practice last week.
(Eric Gay / Associated Press)

There are basketball issues that UCLA officials feel must be addressed, but economics will play a large part in the expected firing of Bruins Coach Ben Howland.

For starters, UCLA officials will have to act quickly or it will cost them an additional $2 million in Howland’s buyout.


Howland’s contract runs through 2017 after he received extensions in 2009 and 2010. He would receive a $3.2-million buyout if terminated by April 2 and a $5.2 million if terminated after that date.

Pauley Pavilion was renovated at the cost of $138 million, and Athletic Director Dan Guerrero and Associate Athletic Director Mark Harlan need the arena to make money. One theory is that a new coach might reinvigorate the fan base, which has been on the decline.


There were only five crowds of more than 10,000 this season. But the number of seats at Pauley Pavilion seems less a basketball issue, considering the Bruins won the Pac-12 Conference regular-season championship playing an entertaining, up-tempo style.

UCLA charges a donation to the Wooden Athletic Fund for new season ticket holders, or those wishing to add seats or upgrade seats, on top of the price of the tickets.

Donations per ticket run from $100 for upper-level seats to $17,000 to sit courtside.

In an email, a season ticket holder of 25 years said he received a renewal letter for his current seats that read in part, “if your season tickets are located in a priority seating/parking area, you will need to renew your Wooden Athletic Fund tax deductible donation by 6/30.”


Harlan, who oversees donor development and marketing, said Sunday that long-time season ticket holders were not exempt from a Wooden Athletic Fund donation if their tickets were in a priority-seating area.

Season ticket holders have also complained about game times, saying that driving to the Westside for 6 p.m. weekday games or late-night weekend games are difficult. Game times are set by television.


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