JG: The basketball program obviously had a tough season; how does a season like that affect you – as the administrator, as a fan, as someone whose paycheck is heavily involved in the success of the team?
DG: Obviously you want all your teams to do well, and certainly your marquee sports are critical to the success of the overall program; they’re the economic drivers. We’ve had the chance to experience wonderful success in the men’s basketball program. Three years in a row, we had that chance. But I view it from a more unique perspective because of the fact that I served on the committee the last five years and saw things from a different filter than most. I had the opportunity to really see a lot of programs during the last five years. What makes them tick, why they’re successful, why they’re not successful. It really confirmed that what we’re doing at UCLA is exactly the way it should be done. We had a tough year last year, by Ben’s admission. All the ingredients weren’t there. It was probably time for that to happen. You never want to go through stretches where you’re not clicking on the cylinders all the time, but it happened, and it happened for a number of reasons. We lost a number of good undergraduate players, we weren’t able to retain a lot of the young men who are on their way to being stars in the NBA if they’re not already. Not everyone we brought in was able to develop as quickly as we would’ve liked. It was almost the perfect storm. All of these factors converged on one season. We struggled.
But I believe Ben grew more as a coach this year than I’ve ever seen in him. This was really about finding about what this program is all about. Really sticking with your convictions, not compromising in any way. Those are the kinds of discussions we had all year long. I think Ben grew quite a bit from that.
JG: Does it concern you in any way the timing of the slide, with the Pauley renovations? Is that a stumbling block?DG: Any time you’re not vying for championships, it affects you at UCLA, especially in our marquee sports. Mostly in ticket sales. Your ability to generate that revenue to support your program is what allows the other teams to be successful. You ask any AD in the country what’s the one thing that keeps him up at night, and they’re always going to talk about keeping the program solvent. It’s important we compete on a high level, and we’ll get back there. I’m very sure that we’ll right the ship.