The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Ben Howland of UCLA Loses Control: Reeves Nelson Assault?

So bullying has finally reached one of the most storied college sports franchises, the UCLA Bruins basketball team, reports ESPN.

Ben Howland, UCLA coach, is said to have lost control of the program and team players, reportedly allowing for bullying and all sorts of other unsavory activities to take place. Players were allegedly fighting with each other, intentionally injuring one another, drinking and smoking weed at practice, and using E (the drug, not the physics coefficient) at off-campus parties.

Reeves Nelson is the only player to speak about and possibly accept responsibility for fights and fouls that kept other players from playing.

"On all that stuff, I have no trouble admitting that I lost control of my emotions sometimes," Nelson said, reports ESPN.

Nelson's attorney has called stories about his actions "nonsensical" and has demanded a retraction.

Of course, what this means is that as March Madness -- the annual NCAA basketball tournament -- approaches, the 'Ben Howland at UCLA lost control' story could get epic levels of attention. However, the attention might be less than in other years because UCLA is not quite as good this year as it has been previously.

But the question now is whether there will be any sort of criminal investigation into the incidents, as is often the case with bullying. For example, will Reeves Nelson face criminal assault charges? Will Ben Howland speak to the authorities to address what went on inside the locker room?

In most states, an assault/battery is committed when one person 1) tries to or does physically strike another, or 2) acts in a threatening manner to put another in fear of immediate harm.

Will there be officials out there who will try to put the UCLA bullying into that category? Will they learn a lesson from the hazing tragedy at Florida A & M before it's too late? It all remains to be seen.

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