April 24, 2012
In my nearly ten years as the Athletic Director at UCLA, I have often spoken about the importance of the delicate balance between athletic and academic success, especially on a campus such as ours where the standards in both of these areas are among the highest in the country.
It is anything but easy to maintain a full course load at one of the top universities in the nation. However, add that to the demands of an elite intercollegiate sports team, and one can easily fall behind in one area or the other. That is not the case for most of our amazing student-athletes.
I received word yesterday from our Academic and Student Services department that 46.7 percent of our student-athletes had qualified for the Director's Honor Roll in winter quarter, meaning they earned a 3.0 or higher.
I was impressed, but not surprised. Our student-athletes are supported by a top-notch academic staff who has worked very diligently, especially over the course of the last five years, to ensure that our student-athletes are truly living up to both parts of that designation. Congratulations to all of the Director's Roll honorees and the Academic and Student Services unit!
Coach Howland Completes Recruiting Class
I know that I made extensive mention of recruiting in this very forum last week, but I would be remiss if I didn't congratulate Men's Basketball Head Coach Ben Howland and his coaching staff for capping off a banner recruiting year with the signing of Tony Parker to a National Letter of Intent yesterday. Tony's signing gives us four incoming freshmen who are ranked among the top 50 prospects in the nation, and, when combined with the returning core, will give the Bruin Family a very exciting team to watch when we open the doors of New Pauley Pavilion next fall.
Football Nears Final Two Weeks of Spring Ball
There is also plenty of excitement on campus these days for Jim Mora and the UCLA Football team. After a very intense practice on Spaulding Field last Saturday, only five practice sessions remain between now and the Spring Game at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, May 5 at 5 pm. We are excited to have the Petros and Money show from our flagship radio station KLAC 570 am broadcasting live from Spaulding from 3-5 pm during practice next Tuesday, May 1. If you can't make it out to Spaulding for their live broadcast, be sure to check out the archives on their website later that day for an archived version of the show.
Kudos to Gymnastics
I was honored to be in Georgia last Saturday with a first-hand view of our gymnastics team leaving it all out on the floor in their pursuit of a national championship. As disappointed as I'm sure all of the student-athletes and coaches were when they did not come away with the title, their pride in themselves and the university shone through in their actions in the aftermath of the tournament, which we missed winning by an incredibly narrow one-tenth of a point margin. The score they achieved in the final competition would have won the championship in almost any other year and, in fact, was the second-highest non-winning score ever. Hats off to Valorie Kondos Field and her coaching staff for a job well done, on and off the floor; the team truly is a class act.
Farewell to a Legend
As I'm sure many of you reading this already know, Saturday also signified the end of an era in UCLA Athletics. Legendary men's volleyball coach Al Scates officially coached his last match, a 3-1 loss to UC Irvine, in the quarterfinals of the MPSF Tournament. After 50 years coaching UCLA Volleyball, including 19 NCAA Championships, Al is officially hanging it up. We will miss him here in Westwood but will never forget his impact on the university and the sport. In fact, we plan to honor him one more time following next fall's alumni match in New Pauley, and we will share those details as they are finalized. Thank you, Al.
Olympic Sports Report
As we quickly approach the month of May, many of our teams are entering the postseason, while others are hitting the stretch run of their regular seasons. Here's a look around the department:
#5 Men's Tennis is the #1 seed at the first-ever Pac-12 Team Championships this weekend in Ojai after an upset of top-ranked and previously undefeated USC last weekend
Members of the #1-ranked Women's Tennis team compete for Pac-12 individual titles
#1 Women's Golf participates in the Pac-12 Tournament at Washington State
#2 Men's Golf travels to Oregon State for the Pac-12 Men's Tournament
The #2-ranked Women's Water Polo team travels to Stanford for the MPSF Tournament
The Men's and Women's Track & Field teams host USC in our annual dual meet on Sunday at Drake Stadium
The #6 Rowing team also competes against our cross-town rival, on Saturday in San Pedro
#12 Baseball hosts UC Irvine tonight at 6 pm and Stanford for a three-game series starting on Friday.
#14 Softball plays a three-game series at #1 Cal
Ask Dan Guerrero
Q: I just wanted to express that I'm surprised the spring game and seat selection at the Rose Bowl would be scheduled the same day as UCLA Day on campus. My family would love to attend the spring game, but when we heard of the date, we had already RSVPd (paid for) UCLA day. It's too bad we can't do both.
A: In an ideal world, we would have loved to play the Spring Game on campus this year in conjunction with UCLA Day activities on May 5. There were circumstances that prevented this from happening this year, but hopefully it will not be a recurring concern in the future.
To illustrate, it was important to our new football coaching staff that spring practice not conflict with spring break as had been the case in past years. It was also their desire to conduct practices only three days a week, thereby giving them an off-field "classroom" day in between each practice session. With new systems being installed in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams, this made sense. As a result, with spring break falling in late March, after taking into consideration the every-other-day practice schedule, the logical date for the Spring Game became May 5.
In addition, the ability to host the Spring Game at Drake Stadium this year was compromised by the UCLA-USC track meet taking place at the same venue this coming Sunday, April 29. With the shot put and hammer throw being contested on the same field that would host the Spring Game, we would not have been able to get the field in "playing condition" in a short week.
Again, be assured that Athletics always tries to avoid conflicts of this type so that people can enjoy all the activities UCLA has to offer, but this year, it was nearly impossible.
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