Friday, April 07, 2006

Wooden to Skip Awards in Dispute

By The Associated Press

The John R. Wooden Awards will be presented Saturday in Los Angeles to the top men's and women's basketball players in the nation, but the namesake of the awards won't be present. And former UCLA coach John Wooden's absence has nothing to do with his hospitalization this week for diverticulitis.
Wooden, 95, who led the Bruins to 10 NCAA titles, was released from the hospital Wednesday.

He disclosed in August that he would not attend Saturday's ceremony because of a trademark dispute with the Los Angeles Athletic Club, which has sponsored the prize in concert with Wooden. The dispute began last year with Wooden's decision to lend his name to an unrelated award, which is given to pro and collegiate athletes for community service.

Wooden gave the athletic club the John R. Wooden trademark for the basketball awards. The first was presented in 1977, two years after Wooden retired.

Mark Humenik, an agent who represents the Wooden family, including the former coach's daughter, Nan Wooden Muehlhausen, and his son, Jim Wooden, said the ex-coach "still is not going" to the ceremony.

The overriding issue, Humenik said, is the Wooden family wanted more say in how the name could be used. "Nan and Jim, in August, expressed their feelings, consistent with father's feelings," he said.

However, Chip Namias, spokesman for the Wooden Award, said the LAAC "has no interest in having a say-so in how coach uses his name."

"The athletic club is crushed over this," Namias said. "We hope at some point the agents for coach will be willing to communicate with us so he can be with us as soon as possible."

The finalists for the men's Wooden Award are Randy Foye of Villanova, Adam Morrison of Gonzaga, J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams of Duke and Brandon Roy of Washington. The women's finalists are Seimone Augustus of LSU, Duke's Monique Currie, North Carolina's Ivory Latta, Oklahoma's Courtney Paris and Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers.



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