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Report: UCLA program in turmoil under Howland

UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland has allowed the program to drift from the tenets established by John Wooden by recruiting players who have undermined team discipline and moral, according to a report.

The anticipated report was posted on Sports Illustrated's website Wednesday and comes after the magazine spoke with more than a dozen players and staff members from the past four UCLA teams.

UCLA and Howland have responded, saying they are taking the assertions in the report seriously and are looking toward the future.

The magazine says several players routinely used alcohol and drugs, sometimes before practice, and one player received no punishment after intentionally injuring teammates.

The report details fights between teammates both on and off the court.

Former UCLA forward Reeves Nelson is portrayed as instigating a fight during one practice by repeatedly hitting teammate Mike Moser during a drill.

Nelson, who was dismissed by Howland in December after repeated suspensions, was also involved in a scuffle in a teammate's apartment, but other players are said to have fought each other as well.

"It is disheartening for our Bruin community to be confronted with the type of assertions contained in the Sports Illustrated story," said UCLA chancellor Gene Block. "We take seriously any challenge to who we are and what we are about, and I am confident that any issues in our men's basketball program will be rectified."

Athletic director Dan Guerrero said the university would continue to address the issues and concerns in the report.

"Like many in the Bruin family, I am disappointed," Guerrero said. "That said, I know that we have, and will continue to provide, the necessary resources, education and support for all of our coaches, staff and student-athletes."

The report says Howland, who once led UCLA to three straight Final Fours from 2006-08, has recruited "talented but immature" players who have "undermined team discipline and moral."

Older players are seen as unable to control or mentor younger players, causing turmoil.

"Like everyone else, I am always looking forward to improving as both a person and as a coach," Howland said in response. "I am proud of the coaches, staff and student-athletes in our program, and I look forward to our future."

The Bruins are 16-13 this season, including 9-7 in the Pac-12, and currently on the outside looking in for an NCAA Tournament berth. They host Washington State on Thursday night.

The Sports Illustrated story will appear in the March 5 issue of the magazine.