December 20, 2011
Happy Holidays, Bruin Fans!
It's good to be able to connect with all of you one more time before the year ends. As always, our teams will not shut down over the holidays, so there will continue to be plenty of action prior to the start of 2012. As such, you will have a great deal to cheer for in the coming days.
Speaking of cheering, how about that UCLA Women's Volleyball Team?
Women's Volleyball Brings Home UCLA's 108th NCAA Title
The Bruins gave us all an early holiday present when they defeated Illinois in four sets in the National Championship match last Saturday night to bring a record 108th NCAA team title home to Westwood.
I was honored to be at the Alamodome to see not only the on-court prowess of the team, but also the class with which the players and coaches handled themselves throughout the match and later in their post-match celebration and press conference.
Kudos to head coach Michael Sealy and his staff - assistant coaches Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer and Dan O'Dell, volunteer assistant Aaron Wexler, director of operations Cayley Thurlby and student assistant Nicole Favreau. Also special thanks to these support staff members who accompanied this team on its incredible journey all season long: athletic trainer Tina Tubbs and sports information director James Ybiernas.
Michael Sealy leading this team to a national championship in just his second year is truly a remarkable accomplishment, and his selection as AVCA National Coach of the Year is certainly well deserved. Additional thanks goes out to everyone in the department who provides support to the team every day.
It was also great to see the fans that traveled to San Antonio to root on the team. Led primarily by parents and families, the crowd was small, but mighty. Accompanied by our band, spirit squad and even a few of our men's volleyball players, the spirit of our group was infectious, and the noise level matched that of a partisan Big Ten crowd.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention how very proud I am of the support our women's volleyball team received by other UCLA student-athletes and coaches. The social media buzz in the aftermath of the win was incredible, further proving that this is one big Bruin family.
Football Team Prepares for Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
As new UCLA Head Football Coach Jim Mora assembles his coaching staff, interim coach Mike Johnson and his staff and the current Bruin players are spending much of this week preparing for their appearance in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on December 31.
As I have said from the time we accepted the invitation to play in the bowl, this game gives our senior class one more chance to represent their university on the football field, so we should do all we can to support them in their efforts. I hope to see many of you in San Francisco.
Some of you have asked why we would be playing a men's basketball game at the same time that day and in the same metropolitan area (for those who don't know, we are at Cal for a 1 pm tipoff). The basketball game was initially scheduled for a 7 pm start, but, prior to football bowl selections, was moved to an earlier tipoff time at Cal's request. When it was moved, Fox Sports Net added it to its slate of games, and 1 pm was the only time slot they had available, meaning that we were unable to avoid the conflict.
Busy Week for Men's Hoops
The men's basketball team concludes its non-conference schedule this week with a pair of games at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, facing UC Irvine Tuesday and Richmond on Friday. Riding a three-game winning streak and with Stanford and Cal looming next week to open the Pac-12 season, these will be very important games for Ben Howland and his players ...
On the Road Again ...
Speaking of teams traveling, Cori Close and her team will be in Philadelphia (Markel Walker's hometown) this week for a pair of games, first against Temple Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning (PT) at St. Joseph's. These two games should serve as great tests for this young team before they too open their Pac-12 regular season, hosting Cal and Stanford next week ...
Remembering a Great Bruin
Sadly, the Bruin family lost another member on Saturday with the passing of Gene "Skip" Rowland, 84, who was a four-year letterman in baseball and football. Skip led the Bruin football team to a 10-0 regular season record in 1946 before a loss in the 1947 Rose Bowl against Illinois. He was also an all-league player in baseball, and the 1947 Bruin team went 29-15 - the most wins in school history until 1963.
Skip was very involved with the program, having served on the Athletics Hall of Fame committee, participating in many department golf tournaments and frequenting the Then, Now and Forever tent at Bruin football games. Many of you have probably seen Skip's baseball uniform in our Hall of Fame in the Morgan Center. It always brings a smile to my face.
After UCLA, he became a teacher and coach for 35 years before retiring in 1988, and he is a member of the UCLA Athletics and UCLA Baseball Halls of Fame.
Our deepest condolences go out to his family at this difficult time.
Ask Dan Guerrero
Q: Dan, there has been some talk recently that the $2,000 stipend for student-athletes proposed earlier this year by the NCAA may not actually happen - how does this reversal change things for UCLA?
A: Lawrence, as I mentioned in a previous edition of this blog, I was and remain in complete support of stipends for student-athletes. I have said that I would have liked to see legislation passed that would allow for the provision of the entire difference between a full ride scholarship and the cost of attendance (roughly $3,400 at UCLA). Nevertheless, I still favored the $2,000 stipend since it was a step in the right direction. This proposed legislation was recently suspended when approximately 125 Division I institutions, many of those with limited financial means, chose to initiate an override to prevent this from becoming policy.
The full Division I membership will vote in January of 2012 to determine if the legislation will eventually become enacted. This particular subject matter clearly provides better insight as to the dissimilarities between certain member institutions that comprise NCAA Division I. With increasing television revenue becoming the reality for many of the BCS conferences, the financial divide is becoming greater.
Many surmise that this will eventually lead to a "fourth division" or at least a different set of policies for certain conferences. Stay tuned as this issue will be an important one for all us to watch.
Again, UCLA remains in full support of the additional stipend and will reflect such in our vote in January.
Thank you all for your submissions - please know that each question submitted was read, and please don't forget to submit a question to firstname.lastname@example.org this week.
Director of Athletics, UCLA