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Summer 2003
Field of Dreams
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Athletic Department Director of Academic Services Kim Barger says she would love to have had a class the caliber of UCLA’s special admits in her previous jobs.

“Our special admits look a lot different than other people’s,” she says. “Most schools would kill for those kinds of profiles. UCLA is not for everybody. It takes a special person to be able to compete at this level athletically and academically. I don’t think UCLA is willing, either as an institution or as an athletic department, to sell out.”

While its higher academic standards may rule out some prospects, UCLA’s academic tradition attracts others.

“There’s not a better school in the country when it comes to combining academics, athletics and social opportunities,” says Michael Sondheimer ’77, associate athletic director for recruiting.

The standards set by UCLA and other top-tier institutions seem to be taking hold nationwide. Beginning in August, all NCAA student-athletes will have to meet significantly higher standards for eligibility and academic progress. Such a change should help to reduce the academic/athletic divide between UCLA and some of its competitors.

Whether it closes that competitiveness gap or not, Wooden says it doesn’t really matter. What’s important, he believes, is for the institution and its programs to continue reaching and emphasizing those things that are within its control.

“Just never cease trying to be the best you can be,” he says. “That’s under your power and the other things aren’t.”

Wooden’s simple truth. What a difference between the hype of a win and the satisfaction of true success.


2005 The Regents of the University of California