Oct. 25, 2011
Members of the Bruin Family,
Welcome back to Word from Westwood.
I wanted to first and foremost be sure to address our most recent football game against Arizona last Thursday night. Several of you have expressed your concern and rightfully so. Despite the effort of the players and coaches, it was extremely disappointing to see the result on the field. Our play was clearly not indicative of what we want to see from our Bruin team.
Additionally, I was personally very upset by the melee at the end of the second quarter. There is no place for activity of this type on the field of play anywhere in intercollegiate athletics, but especially not here at UCLA. This is not the way we expect our student-athletes to handle themselves - on the field or off.
Student-athletes on all of our teams know that conducting themselves in that manner is not acceptable behavior, and, in this particular case, Coach Neuheisel forcefully reminded the entire football team of that in the locker room, both during halftime and after the game.
Last Friday, my staff and I spent a great portion of the afternoon working very closely with the Pac-12 Conference office to address this serious matter, and we all respect the decision of Commissioner Scott relative to the suspensions that were handed out. The suspensions were fair and deserved.
With that game now in the rear-view mirror, our players and coaches must turn their attention to this Saturday's homecoming game against Cal at 4 pm at the Rose Bowl.
Homecoming is the one time all year that alumni from all over the nation descend on our campus and the Rose Bowl to celebrate and reflect on how fortunate we are to be Bruins. Speaking from experience, I must say, memories of Homecoming Weekend are among the most cherished by students, staff, faculty and alumni alike. Here's to a great tailgate full of Bruin fans, an inspiring effort by the team, and a victory against the Bears to top it off!
Let's take a look at some of the other happenings in the department:
Pac-12 Basketball Media Day
I look forward to welcoming the rest of our Conference brethren to Los Angeles this Friday as the Pac-12 hosts men's basketball media day at LA LIVE. Media day festivities signify that the season is right around the corner, and it is always enlightening to hear what the coaches have to say about the upcoming season. Usually they keep their cards pretty close to their vests, but there is always a quote or two that garnishes national attention. It's also the first time this school year that most of the conference's basketball media will be in one place.
I will be in attendance as the Conference athletic directors' liaison to the men's head basketball coaches. We will be meeting on Friday morning to discuss such issues as newly-proposed NCAA recruiting legislation and initial eligibility standards (more to come in a later blog), officiating, and the request for proposal recently distributed to the various cities vying to host future Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments. Staples Center has hosted the conference tournament since 2002 and is contracted to host it through this season's tournament in March 2012. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, San Jose and Seattle have all expressed interest in hosting future tournaments.
Speaking Of Basketball ...
Let's take a quick look at the facilities that will serve as the temporary homes of our men's and women's teams this season. As most of you are already aware, with the Pauley Pavilion renovation project well underway, the men's team will take part in the Bruin Road Show, with stops at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, the Honda Center in Anaheim and the LA Sports Arena.
Since the Sports Arena will be our primary home this year, we have begun to transform this venue into a true Bruin facility. As some of you may recall, this venue was our basketball team's home for several years (1959-1965). During this time, our Bruins posted an overall record of 67-14. It served as the home court for Coach Wooden's first Final Four team in 1962 and the venue where two of his teams captured national championships (1968 and 1972).
Our facilities team is working hand-in-hand with the Sports Arena administration to modernize the building to the greatest extent possible, including painting many of the previously-cardinal hued walls blue, and to ensure that we create the best possible home-court advantage for our team. All things considered, it is important to remember that it is only a temporary home and that the true pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for us is the Bruins moving into "New Pauley" in time for the 2012-2013 season.
The arenas in Ontario and Anaheim, of course, already feature state-of-the-art amenities and require only cosmetic additions on our end. Nevertheless, rest assured each of these arenas will feature unique UCLA touches that will make the Bruin family proud.
Also displaced by the renovation, our women's team will be playing all of its home games at Collins Court in the Wooden Center. Based on the current success of the women's volleyball team this fall, it should also create a home-court advantage for the women's basketball team. With a capacity of 2,000, it is an intimate venue that will allow for fans to be seated close to the court, where it can get very loud.
Speaking of Coach Wooden, I also wanted to let you know that we have launched a special tab on UCLABruins.com dedicated to him. In case you missed it when we unveiled it to coincide with his birthday on October 14, here is the link: /ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=30500&ATCLID=208274568. It is a true one-stop shop for all things Wooden and an area of the website in which we can all be very proud.
UCLA, Pac-12 Honored by Women's Sports Foundation
Last week, the Women's Sports Foundation recognized the Pac-12 Conference for long-term commitment and excellence in women's athletics at the 32nd annual Women in Sports dinner in New York Wednesday night. Commissioner Larry Scott was on hand to receive the award. The Pac-12 has won more NCAA titles than any conference in the country and has forged a path for some of the most remarkable athletes to flourish, including many of our own, among them Lisa Fernandez, Ann Meyers-Drysdale and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, to name a few. In addition, Donna de Varona (UCLA) and Julie Foudy (Stanford) each presented the award on behalf of the WSF to Commissioner Scott and our very own Sr. Associate Athletic Director/Senior Women's Administrator Petrina Long, who was in attendance.
With 140 NCAA women's team titles and an unrivaled 616 individual crowns, the women's sports programs in the Pac-12 have produced more national championships than any conference in the country. The Conference has claimed National Championships in 13 of the 17 women's sports the NCAA sponsors, with UCLA earning 36 team championships and 95 individual titles by itself, quite an accomplishment.
Olympic Sports Update
Our Olympic Sports teams enjoyed another successful round of competition against both conference and non-conference opponents ... women's soccer (No. 2 nationally) swept a pair of conference matchups at Drake, outscoring the Arizona schools by a combined 8-1 ... women's volleyball (No. 6) continued its hot play at the Wooden Center with a sweep of Colorado and Utah ... men's water polo (No. 1) dispatched its two opponents ... the top-ranked women's golf team, in an outstanding field, placed second at the SEC/Pac-12 Challenge, while the No. 3 men's team just won the team title at the U.S. Collegiate Championship.
Before I go, I wanted to remind you that the athletic department is joining forces once again with the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation and Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA for the fourth-annual Dribble for the Cure event this Sunday. This is a wonderful event that is important to all of us in the athletic department, so please come out and support us if you have the chance.
Ask Dan Question of the Week
Q: Dan, as a long-time UCLA basketball fan who has watched a lot of games in Pauley, I wanted to know how the sightlines of fans sitting behind the student sections at New Pauley will be impacted by the students standing throughout the game. I am considering joining the Wooden Athletic Fund to be able to purchase season tickets there, but wanted to be sure I can see the court first. It's a big investment. Thanks.
A: Jack, this concern has actually been raised a few times by people in your shoes, especially as we have gotten deeper into the seat selection process (we now are about two-thirds of the way through it), so thank you for asking it.
Simply stated, we recognize that fans are making a significant investment in our athletic program to be in the building when it re-opens and, given that, some are understandably concerned about visibility when sitting above student sections. This is especially true since there will be more floor tickets available to students than in previous years. To that end, we have worked hard with our architect to create a natural buffer between the student and donor sections that will not compromise anyone's game day experience and view of the action on the court below.
Thank you all for your submissions - please know that each question submitted was read, and don't forget to submit a question to firstname.lastname@example.org this week.
Director of Athletics, UCLA