In a cynical age such as ours, it's sometimes hard to swallow the obvious, which is why we're having such a tough time digesting the Jim Harrick firing.
Unless there's something under a rock, it looks like what we've seen is what we've got. Harrick needs to come up with something more than mere appeals to sympathy in order to make his case. He broke a rule (rules?), and then he lied to cover it up. He was busted, he confessed. After Blazergate, he should have known he was on thin ice.
Look, UCLA isn't Nebraska or USC. This is a school that suspends a high-profile football player (Roman Phifer) for the season just for picking a fight at a McDonald's, a school that not only seems to have learned the lessons of Sam Gilbert and Billy Don Jackson, but has acted upon those lessons. Bruin basketball will survive and probably prosper, and Pete Dalis and Charles Young should be applauded, not vilified, for making a genuinely ethical decision.
Former UCLA athletic director J.D. Morgan is probably turning over in his grave at the lack of judgment shown by UCLA administrators in firing Jim Harrick. My heart goes out to Coach Harrick for this overwrought act. With the impending (and overdue) retirement of Chancellor Young, hopefully the new chancellor will see fit to cut out the real cancer in UCLA athletics and fire Peter Dalis.
Finally UCLA Chancellor Young and Athletic Director Dalis have done what other administrators have not had the courage to do, protect the good name of the university at the expense of likely commercial success. Jim Harrick was ignorant or stupid, two things a head coach cannot be. In either case, he has demonstrated that he cannot be trusted with the head coaching position. The basketball fans may hate to see him go, but better one man than the reputation of the school.
How dare you, Mr. Young, subject the Bruins' loyal following to this outrageous act. Your ego has grown to such an abnormal size that you now defend your decision with the analogy of Richard Nixon and Watergate. You want us to think that you are defending the honor of the university and its reputation, but I remember you never spoke loudly of Sam Gilbert and John Wooden.
It is time for you to step down. Your legacy is now complete.
As a UCLA alum and the father of two current Bruin student-athletes, I am proud that ethical behavior is demanded of the coaches and that cheating and lying are considered to be absolutely unacceptable in Westwood.
As head coach, Jim Harrick was more than a role model. He was the surrogate father to the players in his charge. If people are concerned that some blue-chip recruits will now choose other schools, they should also be concerned about players who would want to play for a coach who thinks it's no big deal to falsify a document and lie to his boss about it.
Congratulations, Chancellor Young, on having the courage to make the hard but right decision. This code of honor may be your greatest legacy at UCLA.
Thank you, Chancellor Young and Pete Dalis, for your attempt to save the UCLA basketball program from itself. Harrick's inaccuracies in recruit/expense reporting clearly merited a full-scale investigation and corrective action. However, your rash, hasty and unjustified decision to expel the only coach who brought UCLA a national championship since Wooden was not the proper remedy.
Now that ethics and accurate expense reporting are a priority at UCLA, how about an investigation into your expense reports to determine how you match up?
MARK STEVEN AVILA
Well, I hope The Times is happy now. The firing of Jim Harrick was inevitable since Bill Plaschke's article and insinuations regarding the sale of Harrick's car to a top recruit. It seems Peter Dalis was just waiting for another reason to dismiss him. I guess eight 20-win seasons and a national championship aren't enough.
Jim Harrick may not be Larry Brown, and he may not be Denny Crum, and he may have been only UCLA's fourth choice as head coach in 1988, but when was the last time anyone other than Harrick led UCLA to a national title?
More important, Jim Harrick is a good person, an honest man with a love for his players and college basketball. In this era of crazy salaries and out-of-whack egos, Jim Harrick is head and shoulders above the rest.
MARTIN L. ZWEBEN
Palos Verdes Estates
It's amazing that anyone would defend Jim Harrick one last time. This is a man who draped himself in glory in his one great season, but failed to take responsibility for even a single defeat. Nothing is ever his fault. It's always the media, the officials, inexperienced players, his son and, finally, the unnamed people who "were out to get me."
UCLA made the right call, and in doing so, set an example for its student-athletes, whose coach simply could not.