LOS ANGELES — UCLA has extended the suspensions of freshmen basketball players Jalen Hill and Cody Riley through the end of the season as a result of their admitted shoplifting during the team’s trip to China in November.
Athletic director Dan Guerrero and coach Steve Alford announced the decision in a joint statement released Friday. The Bruins left campus on Thursday ahead of their game against No. 7 Kentucky on Saturday in New Orleans.
Riley and Hill still won’t be allowed to travel with the team or suit up for home games. However, they can begin participating in practices and team meetings starting Dec. 26.
“I’ve told our players all along that actions have consequences, and the season-long suspension shows how seriously we take their misconduct,” Alford said in the statement.
LiAngelo Ball was suspended with Riley and Hall but his father withdrew him from school — a move Alford said he never saw coming — and he signed a contract to play professionally in Lithuania, along with his 16-year-old brother LaMelo.
During their indefinite suspensions, the players were allowed to use athletic facilities, including the weight room, but haven’t been working directly with the coaching staff.
“Since returning from China, they have done everything asked of them and continued to work hard in the classroom and in their own personal workouts,” Alford said in the statement.
Guerrero and Alford said the decision is in conjunction with “any disciplinary decision” by the university’s Office of Student Conduct. The details and results of that process are being kept confidential because of school policy and student privacy laws.
“Though they will not suit up for games or travel with the team, I look forward to their return after the Christmas holiday,” Alford said. “I am confident that they will make significant contributions to the university moving forward.”
Ball, Hill and Riley publicly apologized for their transgression while reading prepared statements at a campus news conference on Nov. 15.
“We will continue to support them as students, as athletes and as young men, and we hope that they will use this as a learning experience,” Guerrero said in the statement.
The Bruins (8-3) have lost two of three games and fell out of the Top 25 late last month. They’ve been limited to an eight-man rotation because of the suspensions. UCLA begins Pac-12 play against Washington State on Dec. 29.
UCLA opened the season against Georgia Tech in Shanghai as part of the Pac-12’s annual China game. Guerrero said the shoplifting occurred when the team had 90 minutes of free time on Nov. 6 in Hangzhou. He said the players took items from three stores.
Ball’s father, LaVar, and President Donald Trump engaged in a public war of words after the trio returned from overseas. Trump said he intervened on the players’ behalf with his Chinese counterpart and later implored the players to thank him and President Xi Jinping for gaining their freedom from police detention.
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