What kind of punishment will the university give the students for having completely botched a diplomatic effort between the university and the Chinese government, Ball's father's company's entry into the Chinese retail market, and for giving the university unwarranted negative press? My guess is nothing but a slap on the wrist. These guys will play for the school throughout the year.
U.C.L.A. Players Returning Home After Trump Asks Xi for Help
Three U.C.L.A. basketball players who had been detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting were on their way back to Los Angeles on Tuesday after President Trump appealed to President Xi Jinping of China on their behalf.
The players were arrested last week in Hangzhou, China, and accused of stealing designer sunglasses at a shopping mall.
“The three U.C.L.A. men’s basketball student-athletes involved in the incident with authorities in Hangzhou, China, are on a flight back home to Los Angeles,” the Pac-12, the athletics conference to which the university belongs, said in a statement, adding that “the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities.”
“We want to thank the president, the White House and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution,” the statement said, after the release of the players from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Earlier, Mr. Trump told reporters as he was leaving the Philippines after a 12-day trip to Asia that “I had a great conversation with President Xi.”
“What they did was unfortunate,” Mr. Trump had said of the players. “You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. They do not play games.”
Mr. Trump had said that he hoped the Chinese president would help the players: LiAngelo Ball, a freshman guard; and Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, both freshman forwards. He emphasized that it was a “very, very rough situation, with what happened to them.”
In China, where the justice system has a very high conviction rate, theft can bring punishment ranging from a few days to years in prison.
The highest-profile of the three who had been detained was Mr. Ball, the middle of the three “Ball Brothers.” The eldest, Lonzo, plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, and the youngest, LaMelo, is a high schooler who has committed to play at U.C.L.A. Their father, LaVar, has become a public figure, and has started a sports-apparel company, Big Baller Brand. Facebook has been filming a reality series focusing on them, “Ball in the Family.”
The U.C.L.A. team’s trip to China had been seen as a way to raise the profile of the university in that country, possibly attracting students who have well-to-do parents and who want to study abroad. Many American universities in recent years have increasingly relied on tuition payments from foreign students.
3 UCLA players face punishment at home after China incident
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting have been allowed to return home, where they may be disciplined by the school as a result of the international scandal.
Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were on a plane back to Los Angeles that was due to land late Tuesday afternoon after a 12-hour flight from Shanghai.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the matter "has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities."
A person with knowledge of the Pac-12's decision said any discipline involving the trio would be up to UCLA. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference doesn't plan any sanctions.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said the school is weighing its options.
"I want to be clear that we take seriously any violations of the law," he said in a statement. "In this particular case, both Athletics and the Office of Student Conduct will review this incident and guide any action with respect to the involved students. Such proceedings are confidential, which limits the specific information that can be shared."
There was no immediate word on the trio's status for the team's home opener Wednesday night against Central Arkansas.
The school said the three players, along with coach Steve Alford and athletic director Dan Guerrero, will make their first public comments about the matter at a campus news conference Wednesday, but won't take questions.
Scott thanked President Donald Trump, the White House and the State Department for their efforts in resolving what he called "the incident with authorities in Hangzhou, China." He indicated that UCLA made "significant efforts" on behalf of its athletes.
It wasn't clear under what terms the players were freed to return to the U.S.
"We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university," Scott said.
Trump said Tuesday he had a long conversation about the three players' status with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Ball, Hill and Riley were expected to have an immediate impact as part of UCLA's highly touted recruiting class. Instead, they are being talked about solely for their actions off the court.
Ball, a guard whose brother Lonzo is a rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers, averaged 33.8 points as a high school senior. The elder Ball played one season in Westwood and left early for the NBA draft.
The Balls' outspoken father, LaVar, was in China at the time of the incident. He spent some time promoting the family's Big Baller Brand of athletic shoes with his youngest son, LaMelo, while his middle son was detained.