The UCLA three are back in the United States today, saved by what President Donald Trump said could have been 10 years in prison.
Li Angelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill seems properly chastened after being arrested last week for shoplifting from three stores in a high end mall near their hotel in Hangzhou when the Bruins visited China for a Pac-12 promoted game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai. They said all the right things, admitting they shoplifted, thanking president Trump, apologizing for their stupidity and the embarrassment they caused their school and their program.
“I take full responsibility for the mistakes I have made shoplifting,” Riley said. “I know that this goes beyond me letting my school down I let the entire country down
“I’m embarrassed and ashamed for disappointing ,my family, teammates and the entire UCLA community. To President Trump and the United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf.”
Trump personally intervened with Chinese president Xi Jinping on his Asian trip to facilitate the release of the the players, who had been detained under house arrest at the team hotel since Nov. 7. The players were released by the Chinese police Wednesday after paying $2,200 bail and flew back to LAX.
It’s up to UCLA to step up now and do the right thing if it wants to restore its brand as a school that believes in the idea of the student athlete. The players have been suspended indefinitely according to coach Steve Alford, who called the three “good young men’ who have exercised an inexcusable lapse of judgement and now they will have to with that.” Alford said the three will have to earn their way back. Alford said the players will not travel, suit up for home games or take part in practice while the university’s Athletics and Office of Student Conduct performs a review of the situation to determine any potential discipline. Anything less than a year’s suspension will rightfully be seen as a slap on the wrist and allows entitled athletes to brazenly break the laws of a foreign country without any real consequence. More appropriately, all three probably need to look for new schools.
The eyes of the sporting world are on UCLA. There is no excuse for this type of behavior and it may be time for the NCAA to review the idea of players missing a week of class for an overseas tour.