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Did Steve Alford Cut Kobe Paras From UCLA Basketball to Keep Bryce on Scholarship?

The saga of Kobe Paras continues. A columnist from the Philippine Star has suggested Paras was cut so that Steve Alford could keep Bryce on scholarship.

Bryce and Steve Alford

While Kobe Paras has accepted a scholarship offer from Creighton, it seems that the buzz on what happened at UCLA just won’t go away.

The latest comes from an article on Philstar.com. For those who may not be familiar, Philstar.com is the website of the Philippine Star which is one of the leading English newspapers in the Philippines.

In the article, Joaquin Henson claims that "UCLA owes an explanation" for refusing admission to Kobe Paras. Henson starts his article by writing:

It’s strange that a respected educational institution like UCLA would refuse to divulge details on why Kobe Paras withdrew from the school despite accepting an athletic scholarship two years ago and passing academic guidelines for eligibility as an NCAA Division I basketball player. UCLA hinted that the withdrawal was prompted by an "SAT scoring issue."

Let’s correct his first error. UCLA did not hint that the withdrawal was prompted by an SAT scoring issue. That was hinted at by the principal at Cathedral High in an interview with the LA Times.

Henson then questions why UCLA wouldn’t explain the decision by accusing UCLA of protecting its reputation.

The question is – did Paras withdraw on his own or was he forced to withdraw? UCLA said it is under no obligation to disclose the circumstances surrounding the withdrawal, presumably to protect Paras’ reputation. But is the presumption correct? Could UCLA be protecting its own reputation instead?

Ummm. Wrong again. UCLA did not disclose more information because of privacy laws. UCLA is especially sensitive to issues of student privacy. Again, though, this was an admission decision, not a basketball decision.

Henson goes on to suggest that scholarship limits may have led UCLA to cut Paras from the team.

There is speculation that upon review, UCLA had exceeded its scholarship allocations and had to make a cut. Alford’s son Bryce is an incoming senior and a shooting guard like Paras. A source said Alford volunteered to strip his son of his scholarship to keep within the limit of 13 allocations. Alford would be reclassified as a "walk-on" without a scholarship. The other option was to check on the standing of the incoming freshmen and strike out the player with the lowest rating. Last season, UCLA only had 11 athletic scholars on the team.

Again, he’s wrong. The graduate transfer of Noah Allen opened up a scholarship slot which would have allowed UCLA to bring in Paras and leave Alford on scholarship.

Bruins Nation is on record as not being fans of Steve Alford. He plays Bryce far too much, frequently to the detriment, in our opinion, of the team.

But, his offer to take Bryce off scholarship, if necessary was one of the highlights of the Alford era. If UCLA had still been pushing the limit on scholarship numbers, Henson’s opinion may have been plausible. We certainly wouldn’t put it past Alford to do something like that.

However, suggesting that Kobe Paras was cut from the team so Alford could leave Bryce on scholarship when UCLA is not at the limit on men’s basketball scholarships is just wrong.

UCLA enters the coming basketball season with only 12 scholarship players. They aren't at the limit of 13 scholarships for this season. So, Paras was not cut to allow Bryce Alford to stay on scholarship.

UCLA is an elite academic institution. UCLA holds its student-athletes to higher academic standards than most colleges and universities.

All you have to do is look at the case of football player Darian Owens who had committed to UCLA but will be attending Fresno City College this Fall because his grades weren’t good enough.

Go Bruins!!!