UCLA denies, OSU downplays book's claims

UCLA coach Ben Howland is denying he made an impermissible phone call to the father of a former recruit who made the claim in the book, "Play Their Hearts Out."

In the book about grassroots basketball released last week, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist George Dohrmann writes that Howland committed an NCAA violation by making a phone call to the father of guard Roberto Nelson during a month when he had already spoken to Nelson. Howland was limited to one call that month to the recruit and his family.

Bruce Nelson said in the book that he received a phone call from Howland from a Santa Barbara area code, adding, "I guess he knew that if he used his UCLA phone, then people could find out he called me." The Nelsons are from Santa Barbara, where Howland grew up.

Howland, speaking through a university spokesman, said the allegations were untrue and that he did not commit an NCAA violation. He was on the road recruiting and could not be reached for further comment.

Meanwhile, an Ohio State compliance official told the Columbus Dispatch that the school does not believe an NCAA violation was committed when former Buckeye and current college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg called Bruce Nelson about his son. Dohrmann writes that Kellogg "lobbied on behalf of his alma mater" when as a former player he was forbidden from doing so.

Kellogg told the Columbus Dispatch he was not representing Ohio State during the call and that it was facilitated by a third party, a person he could not recall. Ohio State associate athletic for compliance Doug Archie said the call was not set up by an Ohio State coach.

"We don't think there's a violation," Archie told the paper. "Based on the information we have now, Clark did not advocate on our behalf. He had a conversation with the father about the recruiting process."

Archie also told the paper that even if a violation were found to have occurred, it would be self-reported and considered a secondary violation.