Early Tuesday SbB reported on Twitter that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED planned to publish a story detailing drug use within the UCLA basketball program.
The investigative piece, which SbB has been told recounts marijuana usage by at least three then-current players who have since departed the program, was addressed by UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland at his weekly press conference in Los Angeles today.
Q: Have you heard about the Sports Illustrated article?
A: I know there is an article coming out and I think it’s tomorrow.
Q: Were you contacted for it?
A: I was contacted last Wednesday or Thursday.
Q: Do you know what it’s about?
A: I can’t speculate.
Q: How do you handle potential negative publicity with recruits?
A: Make the players we’re involved with aware of it and we’ve done that so it’s not coming out without some knowledge of the article.
Q: Are you aware of a drug problem on your team?
A: Specifically I can’t talk about any former player or student relative having to do with that. We have a comprehensive drug policy here at UCLA where any time someone fails a random drug test, I’m alerted, the trainer is alerted and the person overseeing the drug policy here. And there is a very good and outstanding program in place for student athletes of all teams to receive education and receive counseling and to receive discipline.
Q: Do you think you’ve handled all inappropriate behavior correctly?
A: With specific players in terms of working with our student athletes, I guess I have to ask you to be more specific.
Q: If you saw a player do something inappropriate, do you think you’ve handled those things correctly?
A: Yeah, I think for the most part, I have. I’d have to go back and look at specifics. You’re speaking in generalities. No one is perfect. I would never claim to be that person. Everybody makes mistakes. I’m definitely not perfect.
SbB has been told the 6,500+ word SI story will be posted to the magazine’s website Wednesday morning.
Sources have also recently indicated to SbB that UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero has tipped off UCLA administrators and major donors to the story while noting the school has hired a crisis communication firm to help the school publicly address the situation.
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