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Princeton's Gary Walters withdraws from consideration, leaving three candidates and reportedly two leading ones. The decision should be coming soon...

UCLA has narrowed its list of choices for a new athletic director to three after Princeton's athletic director, Gary Walters, withdrew his name from consideration Tuesday.

Dan Guerrero, UC Irvine's athletic director, and Boise State's athletic director Gene Bleymaier are now considered the two top candidates for the position. UCLA Associate Athletic Director Betsy Stephenson is still under consideration but considered running third behind Guerrero and Bleymaier.

Both Guerrero and Bleymaier are considered as good, positive candidates for the athletic department, according to many sources close to the situation. Both Guerrero and Bleymaier are UCLA alumni, with Guerrero being a former Bruin baseball player while Bleymaier a former UCLA football player. Both still have strong ties to the university and are very well respected in the UCLA community. They also both represent a move to go outside of the current athletic department for its new athletic director, which many believe is necessary to breathe new life into UCLA athletics.

While Betsy Stephenson has been somewhat maligned in the search process, many who know the athletic department well feel that she also would be a choice that would shake up the department. Stephenson is from Kansas originally, and while she's been at UCLA for a few years, many believe she would also bring a fresh, "outsider's" perspective to the athletic director position.

Speculation has been rampant over the search for the new athletic director. The process has proven to be one of the best-kept secrets at UCLA in some time.

While it's uncertain why Walters withdrew his name, one source indicates that Walters was informed he was not among the top two candidates for the position. This goes against the strong, recent rumors that Walters was the favorite for the job, being the candidate handpicked and endorsed by UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale.

While a search committee conducted the first round of candidate interviews, Carnesale took over the second round of interviews. Bleymaier, Guerrero and Stephenson have all interviewed with Carnesale, and most sources believe that the interview process is over, with the new athletic director being named by Carnesale within a week.

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