Wednesday, February 29, 2012

UCLA Statements Regarding SI Article on Men's Basketball Program

UCLA Statements Regarding SI Article on Men's Basketball Program

Feb. 29, 2012
UCLA Newsroom

Los Angeles, Calif. - In media teleconferences this afternoon, Chancellor Gene Block, UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero and UCLA head coach Ben Howland responded to a recent Sports Illustrated article that made a number of assertions about the UCLA men's basketball program. All three are committed to reviewing all relevant university policies and procedures to make certain they are followed and are in line with the university's strong values.

They also stressed the value of mutual respect, emphasizing the importance of players adhering to the university's code of conduct and having respect for the way in which they represent UCLA, as well the importance of the program respecting players as both students and athletes.

Chancellor Gene Block's statement to the news media:
Every day, those of us fortunate enough to be associated with this great university take enormous pride in what UCLA represents.

So it is particularly disheartening to me and to our Bruin community to be confronted with the type of assertions contained in the Sports Illustrated article about our men's basketball program.

We all know the special place that UCLA basketball holds on this campus and beyond, so any injury to the program is an injury to all of us. Because of this rich legacy, we hold ourselves to a higher standard.

John Wooden taught us that it's not only important to take pride in our achievements but to take pride in how we live our lives.

There's no question the story paints a picture of one of our premier programs that causes a great deal of concern. I have questions, just like you do.

After conferring with Dan Guerrero, we have agreed to take whatever steps necessary to ensure that the university's policies, procedures and values are aligned with our continued pursuit of excellence.

We expect all of our student-athletes to abide by the university's code of conduct at all times and to represent us proudly; at the same time, our players must be respected and provided an environment that makes their college experience a rich and rewarding one.
Every day, so many of our student-athletes make us proud ... through their community involvement, campus leadership, academic achievement and competition on the court and on the field.

Many of Ben Howland's players are among them.

While it wasn't fun reading the criticisms leveled against us this morning, I know we will be better as a result of them. I have confidence that Dan will be able move us forward in men's basketball and to continue to lead our outstanding Department of Athletics.

Statement from Dan Guerrero, UCLA's director of athletics:
When I became the Director of Athletics at my alma mater almost ten years ago, I was entrusted with the leadership of what I believe is the nation's premier athletic program. Our mission is clear: provide a comprehensive student-athlete experience for 24 sports that builds character, enhances our community and provides opportunities for athletic and academic excellence. I am reminded of that mission daily when I watch our more than 700 student-athletes strive to be the best that they can be; when I walk by our Academic Center and watch our collaborative learning team at work; or when I see the enthusiasm on the faces of our new football staff as they work late into the night.

Yet I am also reminded of this core mission today, at a time when we may have fallen short of this mission. I am disappointed to the extent that there may be merit in the Sports Illustrated story and that we could have done more for our student-athletes and coaches. I am angry that the alleged actions of a select few could cast doubts on all that is great about UCLA Athletics. Yet I am determined to move forward and to do everything in my power to ensure that our student-athletes and coaches live up to the values that we believe in and espouse.

Coach Howland came to UCLA and quickly brought the program back to the nation's elite, leading the team to three Final Fours with a tremendous group of young men. But he is not perfect. He has admitted both publicly and privately some of his shortcomings and mistakes. To be sure, we want to win more championships and do it the right way, which means there are expectations for Ben both on and off of the court. At UCLA, like at our peer institutions, we place a high degree of trust on our head coaches and they, in turn, place a high degree of trust in their student-athletes. But even with that trust, it is clear that we don't always meet the standards of expectation.
Federal privacy laws prevent any UCLA official from addressing any specific charges concerning former or current student-athletes and I am, therefore, unable to provide specific context around a number of the alleged incidents in the article.

That said, as it relates to alleged drug use or alcohol consumption by former or current members of the men's basketball team, let me state that UCLA has programs in place that address alcohol abuse and a stringent drug-testing program, administered and supervised by a panel of experts, including campus administrators, doctors and lawyers. The university administration and department leadership take any reports of alleged drug use by our students seriously and we will continue to provide the necessary resources and support for members of our community.

Let me be clear: If, in any instance, I, as the leader of this department, or any member of our staff did not follow protocol or do our very best to do what is in the best interest of our student-athletes, then we have not lived up to our core mission. Should that be the case, I will take responsibility for that, and I can assure you that this will be remedied.

Coaching and playing basketball or any other sport at UCLA is a privilege and an honor and we have always sought to achieve excellence in character, education, community and yes, competition. Every coach and player who has ever been a part of UCLA knows that character and values are as important as winning.

I have been a Bruin for more than forty years. I know the expectations of academic and athletic success are lofty -- and they should be. Yet I also know that high character is not an expectation -- it is a requirement for every Bruin, for that is what makes UCLA so great.

Statement from Ben Howland, UCLA Men's Basketball head coach:
Obviously this is not a great day for our program and of course for me. As I said yesterday, I knew some of the details of the Sports Illustrated story but did not read the entire text until late last night. As you can imagine, I was surprised at some of the assertions that I had no knowledge of and some that were simply untrue or taken out of context. I'm responsible for this program and everything that happens in it. And if there's any need to make changes, I will make them. I'm proud of our current and former players and our coaches, and I'm confident in where we're going as we head forward.

Below are the UCLA administration and athletics leadership's initial responses to the Sports Illustrated story published today concerning the UCLA men's basketball program.

From Chancellor Gene Block:
"It is disheartening for our Bruin community to be confronted with the type of assertions contained in the Sports Illustrated story. We take seriously any challenge to who we are and what we are about, and I am confident that any issues in our men's basketball program will be rectified."

From Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero:
"I have discussed the Sports Illustrated story with Coach Howland and Chancellor Block and we will continue to address any issues and concerns. Like many in the Bruin family, I am disappointed. That said, I know that we have, and will continue to provide, the necessary resources, education and support for all of our coaches, staff and student-athletes."

From Head Men's Basketball Coach Ben Howland:
"Like everyone else, I am always looking forward to improving as both a person and as a coach. I am proud of the coaches, staff and student-athletes in our program, and I look forward to our future."

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