If the hiring of Chip Kelly is any indication, UCLA may not be operating under the same old constraints as it begins the search for its next basketball coach.
Gripes about not being able to pay enough or offer top-level facilities might no longer apply.
The Bruins are paying Kelly an average of $4.66 million per season to coach their football team. His office features a picturesque view of campus inside the gleaming Wasserman Football Center, a $75-million facility that serves as the hub of cutting-edge sports science, strength and nutrition programs.
That means whoever fills the basketball coaching vacancy that was created this week when UCLA fired Steve Alford might be in line to double the $2.6 million that Alford pocketed per season. The new coach will also hold practices inside the $35-million Mo Ostin Basketball Center, a barely year-old facility that is among the best on the West Coast, before making his debut inside the recently renovated Pauley Pavilion.
It might be enough to finally lure a brand-name coach, thanks to a recent surge in donor funds as well as the record $280-million Under Armour deal that the school signed in 2016.
“I do think the funding and the money will be there in order to get the hire that can get this program back on track,” Sean Farnham, the former UCLA forward who’s now an ESPN college basketball analyst, said Tuesday during a telephone interview. Farnham cautioned that it might not be enough to land someone like the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Billy Donovan, who makes an average of $6 million per season in an area of the country where that money goes much further than it would in Los Angeles.
Farnham said one issue UCLA’s search committee may have to address with prospective candidates is the policy of usually taking commercial flights instead of charters. The team was recently marooned at the Cincinnati airport for 2½ hours because of a flight delay on its way to Chicago.