Field of Dreams
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didn’t happen overnight for Coach Wooden. It took him 16 years
to hang that first championship banner in 1964 (a season his team
finished with an unbeaten 30-0 record).
|“I don’t think that UCLA is willing, either as an institution or as an athletic department, to sell out.”
were 16 arduous years, and it didn’t help that UCLA had not
yet built Pauley Pavilion and the basketball team was moving around
courts at Santa Monica City College, Long Beach City College, Venice
High School and Downey Civic Auditorium, among other places. With
no real place to call home, Wooden recalls, recruiting “was
very, very difficult.” It was made more so because then, as
now, academic standards were higher than at many rival schools.
however, came to recognize that those standards were actually a
plus for him as a coach.
“It took quite a while for me to get it into my own head, but because
our entrance requirements were more difficult, we were getting a
better class of individual … players who were easier to work
with and easier to coach to play as a team,” he says.
WITH UCLA’S high academic standards, there are exceptions.
Applications for admission by potential varsity athletes are treated
differently than applications from other students. Such applications
— along with those from musicians and others with special
talents — go straight to the Special Action Admissions Committee
and its chair, Tom Lifka, UCLA’s assistant vice chancellor
for student academic services.
to Lifka, a gifted athlete who does not meet UC eligibility requirements
can be considered for special-admit status if the committee believes
that, given appropriate resources, he or she can succeed academically