On Tuesday, the LA Times published a long, in-depth look at the all of the twists and turns that UCLA’s coaching search took as it went from a list that included John Calipari, Brad Stevens, Tom Izzo, Jay Wright, Billy Donovan, Mark Few and Tony Bennett to one that left the Bruins settling with Mick Cronin after they couldn’t find a way to cover Jamie Dixon’s buyout.
This story is worth the read just to see how ridiculous the search actually was, but there are a few details in here that are certainly worth discussing.
Let’s start with Jamie Dixon’s buyout. According to the story, UCLA believed that had raised the money to pay for Dixon’s buyout because they had raised enough money to pay for John Calipari and everything that came with his hire. The sticking point, however, was two-fold: 1. The donors that were funding the Calipari hire did not want to spend the same amount of money to bring in Dixon, which is where the trouble playing that $8 million buyout started; and 2. California law says that buyouts get taxed as gifts, which means that Dixon would have been on the hook for roughly $4 million had he agreed to the deal and UCLA paid the buyout.
The report also pushes back on the idea that UCLA wasn’t capable of covering Rick Barnes’ buyout — according to the story, it was Barnes asking for more money after terms were agreed that was the deal-breaker — but that’s not the most interesting detail. Josh Rebholz, UCLA’s senior associate athletic director, sent a text message to all of the big donors outlining what happened when the program was played by John Calipari into getting him a lifetime contract at Kentucky, and in that text message, Rebholz not only admits that Cronin was among a handful of “Tier II type names,” but he expressed frustration at being unable to get in the mix with Wright “even when we offered to double his salary.”
The UCLA job just ain’t what it used to be, I guess.