Howland Press Conference: Part 1

Athletic Director Dan Guerrero introduces his new head basketball coach, Ben Howland, to the media. Here are the opening statements of both Guerrero and Howland...

Dan Guerrero opening remarks:

"Good morning. I must say, we have to stop meeting this way. I'd like to start off by saying this is a very proud moment for UCLA, and a proud moment for me. Bottom line is we got our man. Last night we announced that California native Ben Howland has come back home to be the head men's basketball coach at UCLA.  Basic terms of the agreement are a seven-year deal for $900,000 plus as a base, as a guarantee. Provisions that kick the contract over a million dollars, provisions built into it as well. Of course, there are other ancillary items built into the contract. A while back I articulated very clearly the kinds of things I wanted to see in the new coach that we hired here. If you go back to my press conference when I was hired, I described the types of teams I thought were necessary to keep UCLA at a prominent position in inter-collegiate athletics across the country.  In looking for a coach in this particular situation, I looked for all of those factors, including the issue of integrity, someone who stresses the important of academics, and student athletes, and someone who can achieve in this particular case on the court at a very, very high level. Ben stresses fundamentals and discipline, believes in defense and rebounding. You see his teams play with chemistry, a lot of hard work. They compete from start to finish, they play with intensity, and they know when the get on the court they are as prepared as any opponent they are facing.  We expect big things from this hire, and no more than what Ben expects. Ladies and gentlemen, Ben Howland."

Ben Howland's opening remarks:

"Thank you. I'm really honored. I'm humbled. And I understand what a privilege it is to the basketball coach here at UCLA. To work for and represent UCLA, one of the best and most outstanding universities of learning and research is really for me a dream come true, that started as a kid supporting and watching John Wooden's teams 35 years ago in the back room of our house in Goleta, California, on KTLA. It was replay after replay, for ten years, just going year to year being a Bruin fan and supporter. For me, it's great to be back home. Back home with my family, with my mom and my dad. Southern California is the best place in country to live. But that's not why I'm here. It's my family and friends. I want to thank Chancellor (Albert) Carnesale, and Dan (Guerrero) and Betsy (Stephenson) to be your coach. It's so exciting for my family and all my friends. But most importantly it's a dream I've realized to be the coach at UCLA.

"The key to any successful institution or successful business is leadership. With the Chancellor and Dan, we have great leadership. Because who you work for is the key to being successful. We're going to have a lot of fun along the way.

"The expectations and goals for the UCLA basketball program is to one of the elite programs in the country every year, both in terms of the Pac-10 conference and nationally. This program will again be one of the elite teams nationally year in and year out. The life blood of any program starts with recruiting. UCLA produced more great and accomplished players than anybody in the history of college basketball. The number one thing in recruiting is in terms of players, players in your own area. There's not a more fertile ground for players than right here in Southern California and in California in general. We have to do a great job of evaluating that talent and attracting that talent back home here. Also with the media attention, being the second biggest market in the country, it creates an incredible situation for recruiting and success in recruiting.

"I understand and appreciate to be apart of the University of California system again. UCLA's high academic standards offer a unique blend of attracting outstanding students, and great athletes. Having worked in the UC system for twelve years, I've very well versed in the quality and prestige of what a UC degree offers, and the rigors involved to get there. UCLA is the most popular university in the United States. There are over 45,000 applicants a year trying to get 3,800 spots. Because of that competition to get in here, we have unbelievably high standards and the choice from a pool that no one in the country enjoys. Therefore, a degree from this institution is so prestigious and valuable towards graduates. Our players will graduate. That emphasis starts right here with me. I just met with the team from 10:00 to 10:30 and it was a great meeting, and it's the beginning, a clean slate for everyone in the program, for anyone. It starts today. It seems to me like a great group of young men and I'm really looking forward to working with them.

"I really embrace and revel in the history of this program. John Wooden and UCLA basketball. They are synonymous. They are one. He's the greatest college basketball coach in the history of college basketball. Not only because of the national championships he won here, but equally important is the way he conducted the program with class and dignity. When you look at the influence on the lives he touched, and all the kids that played for coach Wooden, you see it. You still see it today. You see how they react to him. The things that the kids learned from him in the era – sacrifice, toughness, togetherness, being a team, having balance in your life – he's a role model for me and he is for all coaches. Basketball players want to be like Mike. Coaches want to be like Wooden. But understand that there is only one. And there will never be another John Wooden.

"We need to embrace the former players. As I alluded to, the best players to ever come out of one program ever. I really look forward to their continued support and involvement in the program. It's important for them to talk to our players and give them a sense of history in terms of how they enjoyed their opportunity to play here and really embrace the opportunities academically, to grow as a young man, to grow as a person, and to really convey how special it is to be part of the Bruin family and a UCLA basketball player."

Part Two coming soon...

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