UCLA Chancellor Charles Young said Friday that the school had received a letter of inquiry from the National Collegiate Athletic Assn., instructing UCLA to conduct an investigation of its basketball program.
The letter, the result of preliminary investigations by the NCAA enforcement staff and the Pacific 10 office, with the cooperation of UCLA, contains allegations of violations of NCAA rules.
The investigation has been considered inevitable ever since the controversy arose concerning the signing and ultimate release of Fairfax High School star Sean Higgins.
Higgins, who did not show up for his own press conference to announce that he had signed with the Bruins, said that he had been coerced by his family into signing the letter. He later spoke of recruiting violations, including a meeting with Bruin alumnus Steve Antebi, whom he said had promised to give him a summer job with the guarantee that if he invested his earnings by the time he had graduated from UCLA they would be worth $10,000.
At the same time, Higgins brought to the NCAA's attention the fact that Bruin star Reggie Miller was renting the chauffeur's quarters on Antebi's estate in Holmby Hills. Higgins said he was told he could live there when Miller graduated.
When an NCAA committee released Higgins from the letter of intent recently, it indicated that UCLA had not been involved in coercing Higgins to sign--leaving open the question of whether Higgins had been released because of violations.
In making the announcement of the official investigation, Young said that comments on the allegations relating to an investigation would be inappropriate until the NCAA committee on infractions had acted officially on the university report.
UCLA Athletic Director Peter Dalis said: "I concur with Chancellor Young's position that comments at this time regarding the particulars or merits of the NCAA allegations contained in the letter of official inquiry is inappropriate. To comment could interfere with the orderly conduct of UCLA's investigation into the allegations. Until such time as our investigation is concluded and the results are presented to the NCAA, the institution shall have no further comment regarding this matter."
UCLA basketball Coach Walt Hazzard was reportedly out of town Friday and intended to make no comment. His assistants, Jack Hirsch and Andre McCarter, were in the office but had been instructed not to comment.
Hazzard has one year remaining on what was originally a three-year contract. After his first season, '84-'85, he was given a one-year extension. He has not been given an extension since then, although he and Dalis have had meetings on the subject.
Questions involving rules violations by the men's basketball program have also resulted from interviews with players who have transferred recently. The NCAA routinely interviews transfer students.
The NCAA enforcement staff may be concerned about information gathered from Corey Gaines, who transferred to Loyola Marymount, and Jerald Jones, who transferred to Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif.
UCLA's investigation is expected to take several weeks, possibly several months. Young will have to form a committee, conduct an investigation, write a report and submit that report to the NCAA committee on infractions.