Wooden Watches in Hospital

Times Staff Writer

John Wooden, UCLA’s legendary basketball coach, watched the Bruins play for the national championship Monday night from a hospital bed, suffering from diverticulitis.

His daughter, Nan Muehlhausen, who watched the game on TV with Wooden and her brother, Jim, said that she had taken her 95-year-old father into a hospital near his home in the San Fernando Valley on Sunday morning and expected him to be released as soon as this morning.

Diverticulitis is an inflammation of the area around the colon.


“He is fine,” Muehlhausen said. “We are here, and Daddy is watching and hoping.

“He looks good, his color is good, but he is not very happy with me, because he wanted to leave today. He had a commitment to make a speech for the American Fund group. You know how he is about his commitments.

“But I told him the doctors thought he should be here another day, and if that meant that I had to sleep in the chair in his room all night, then I would. So he stayed.”

Wooden, who coached the Bruins to a record 10 national titles before his retirement in 1975, had traveled to several Final Fours in the last 10 years, and certainly would have been welcomed by all had he wanted to go back to his home state of Indiana for this one.

But he had fulfilled a commitment by making an appearance at a high school all-star game in San Diego last week, said he felt tired after that and had no plans to go to Indianapolis.

The word of his hospitalization began leaking out just before game time and UCLA made a brief announcement, stressing that his condition was not considered serious.

“We were hoping to keep it quiet,” Muehlhausen said, “but then Bill Bennett [of the Bruins’ public relations staff] called and said the word was out.

“You know my dad. He didn’t want this to take any attention away from the Final Four.”