NCAA asked UCLA to look into talk between Wooden, recruit Love

Updated: January 17, 2008, 1:54 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Kevin Love wanted to absorb the wisdom of John Wooden. The NCAA wondered if having the discussion was very wise.

Sources told ESPN.com's Andy Katz on Wednesday that the NCAA made an inquiry before this season, asking that UCLA investigate whether the discussion between the legendary coach and the then basketball recruit constituted illegal contact. The Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday that the NCAA made those wishes known in a letter.

The NCAA apparently found out about the June 2006 discussion because it was described by a number of media outlets, including Katz.

Sources told Katz on Wednesday that the school is cooperating with the NCAA, but that Wooden's conversation with Love, while he was an Oregon high schooler, was perfectly legal because Wooden is on the UCLA payroll and the meeting took place on campus.

Love, a freshman averaging 16.8 points and 10.2 rebounds for the 16-1 Bruins, told Katz in October that speaking to Wooden, 97, helped convince him to attend UCLA.

"He's not only the best coach of any coach of all time, but he's also one of the best human beings you'll ever meet," Love said. "He's always going to give you the best advice, always positive, never going to be negative. He's as optimistic as possible."

Wooden has been having a tougher time of late.

UCLA is asking fans to leave the former coach alone during home basketball games.

He is a popular draw at his seat behind the Bruins' bench, with people forming a line to get his autograph any time he shows up.

The no autographs request was announced Wednesday by UCLA at the request of Wooden's family.

"It all wears on him," UCLA spokesman Marc Dellins said. "He just wants to be able to come and enjoy the games."

Wooden gets around using a cane and is usually accompanied by his daughter. A lone security guard is on hand to keep the crowd orderly.

Coach Ben Howland said he suggested a year or two ago that fans be asked to leave Wooden in peace.

"It's long overdue," Howland said. "It's not an autograph signing session. He'd be there all day just doing that. He never says no to anybody about anything."

Senior writer Andy Katz covers college basketball for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.