UCLA Confirms SI Exposé on Player Drug Use

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 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 coming out?

A: I know there is an article coming out and I think it’s tomorrow.

Q: Have you been contacted for it?

A: I was contacted last Wednesday or Thursday.

Q: Any idea what the subject of the story is going to be?

A: I can’t speculate.

Q: How do you handle a negative story that has a national interest 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: Do you think there was a period when there was kids in the program who had drug problems?

A: Specifically I can’t talk about any former player or student relative to having anything 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 receive discipline.

Q: When you think back do you think you’ve correctly handled inappropriate behavior by players?

A: With specific players in terms of working with our student athletes, I guess I have to ask you to be more specific.

Q: When a player did something inappropriate, do you think you’ve handled those things correctly?

A: Yeah, I think for the most part, I have.

Q: You said “most part.” Is there something maybe you should have . . .

A: 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 previously tipped off non-athletic UCLA administrators and major donors to the story by noting that the school has hired a crisis communication firm to help address the situation publicly.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates