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From the LA Times.

Zeroing In on a Hundred
UCLA's sports programs have set the overall standard for success in the NCAA, and the Bruins are on the verge of a milestone moment
By Ben Bolch, Times Staff Writer
May 25, 2006

It was June 1950, when Glenn Bassett and a few buddies on the UCLA tennis team piled into a Studebaker bound for the NCAA championships in Austin, Texas, never thinking they might be logging the first miles on what would become a long joy ride for Bruins athletics.

Archrival USC, which had beaten UCLA twice in dual matches that year, was among the favorites in the tournament. But in what would come to typify UCLA, the Bruins pulled several upsets — among them co-captain Bassett's defeating 1951 Wimbledon champion Dick Savitt of Cornell — in notching the school's first NCAA team title.


"I remember we were just so happy that it was darn beyond description," Bassett said.

The reaction elsewhere? A collective yawn. Who knew it was the start of something big?

After all, UCLA was something of a novelty among the nation's collegiate sports programs. Yale had won the first NCAA team title 53 years earlier, in the spring of 1897. And Stanford and USC were already established as the best in the West.

But since Bassett and Co. got things started, it's as if UCLA has traded in that Studebaker for a Ferrari. It has zoomed past all competitors.

The Bruins are No. 1 in No. 1s and are on the cusp of a milestone.

The women's water polo team notched UCLA's 99th NCAA team title on May 14 — toppling USC in the championship game, no less. Stanford is second with 92 titles, and USC is third with 84, with a huge margin over fourth-place Oklahoma State, which has 47.

"We'll get to 100; the question is when," UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said.

The most likely answer: soon. As many as six more UCLA teams — including its top-ranked softball squad — could be in position to win titles by the end of spring.

Around campus, there is a palpable buzz about reaching triple digits, but no rooting for one team to hit the milestone before another.

"If the softball team wins the 102nd national championship as opposed to the 100th," said Caitlin Benyi, a senior second baseman, "we're going to be just as excited and just as happy."

Since Guerrero replaced the retired Peter Dalis as athletic director before the 2002-03 school year, the Bruins have won 13 titles, one shy of what would be an unprecedented four-year span of success at the school. UCLA also won 13 titles from 1981 to '85.

"The golden age has spanned decades at UCLA," Guerrero said. "If you look at every decade, you can point out certain aspects and certain successes in our program that have been very special. We're having a great run right now."

The titles UCLA has won under Guerrero have come in nine sports — "a testament to our commitment to broad-based excellence," he said.

This school year is a prime example. Along with winning titles in women's water polo and men's volleyball, the football team posted the seventh 10-win season in school history and the men's basketball team finished second overall, losing in the championship game to Florida. Also, only men's water polo and women's rowing failed to qualify for postseason competition. (Only four teams make the playoffs in water polo; UCLA had a record of 21-8 and was ranked No. 5.)

Guerrero attributed UCLA's success to "a perfect storm" of factors, including an ideal campus location, a top-notch academic reputation and coaches who "are as good a collective group as you'll find anywhere on any campus in the country."

UCLA baseball Coach John Savage said he once touted many of the same factors as reasons to attend USC during the five years he was the Trojans' baseball recruiting coordinator under Mike Gillespie.

Indeed, USC can stake a legitimate claim to superiority when it comes to direct competition against UCLA. The Trojans on Tuesday were, for the third time in five years, awarded the Lexus Gauntlet trophy, which goes to the school that wins the most in head-to-head competition during a school year.

Also, USC male athletes have won a record 295 individual NCAA titles and females have won 49, giving the Trojans 344 individual champions compared with UCLA's 249.

"Both schools have many of the same qualities," Savage said. "It's just a neat atmosphere that you can go to school and have all these programs around you that are ranked No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 in the country. I think it promotes effort and it promotes success. You just kind of thrive off other programs."

Ryan Babineau, a freshman catcher for the Bruins' baseball team, says that by attending UCLA he has become the envy of his brother Jason, a junior lacrosse player at UC San Diego.

"There's such tradition and school pride in athletics here," Babineau said. "It's pretty exciting when you play a game and the next day other athletes are coming up and congratulating you on a big win. He wishes that he could be involved in something like that."

A cynic might point out that UCLA has racked up many of its titles in warm-weather sports in which there is little competition. Bruins men's volleyball Coach Al Scates concedes that in 1970, when his program won the first of its 19 NCAA championships, there were only 23 major-college teams.

However, even with growth that resulted in the current 80 teams, UCLA has stayed on top. Scates' teams have won six titles since 1990, including this year's, which tied him with Arkansas track Coach John McDonnell for most Division I titles won by a coach.

Scates said that after his most recent win he received a warm message from John Wooden, whose Bruins men's basketball teams won an NCAA record 10 championships. He also heard from former football coach Terry Donahue, evidence of the strong ties within the athletic department.

"The coaches have always supported one another," Scates said. "There's no rivalries."

Assuming it notches the milestone title this spring, UCLA plans to celebrate being first to 100 by introducing representatives of championship teams at each home football and men's basketball game next season, said Glenn Toth, an associate athletic director.

UCLA has requested permission from the NCAA to create a special trophy — similar to the one the organization awards to team champions, only significantly larger — as homage to the achievement.

The school will craft a permanent first-to-100 display in its Hall of Fame and is contemplating distributing commemorative items to each surviving member of its championship teams.

Also, UCLA will place a first-to-100 logo on some team uniforms and over the center court circle at its home arena, Pauley Pavilion. And "100" will be scrawled underneath the school's letters near midfield at the Rose Bowl.

Bassett, from that first championship tennis team, said he had no idea what he and his teammates were starting so long ago.

Now 79 and living in Laguna Niguel after a career as a coach in which he guided Bruins tennis teams to seven more titles, he still keeps up with the school's fortunes, having recently attended a regional at UCLA's tennis stadium. But he doesn't consider himself a pioneer.

"I was just very proud," he said of that first championship. "I didn't know it would lead to 100. That was a long way away."



Local flavor

Schools with their number of varsity teams and individual titles (number in parentheses denotes team NCAA titles):

School Teams Titles
UCLA (99) 24 249
USC (84) 19 344
Pepperdine (9) 15 3
Cal State Fullerton (5) 17 0
Long Beach State (4) 18 5
UC Irvine (3) 23 2
CS Northridge (34*) 20 22
UC Riverside (5*) 17 17
Loyola Marymount (2*) 21 1
UC Santa Barbara (1) 19 0

* — Division II or AIAW national titles

Source: School sports information directors

Top of the heap

Top 10 NCAA Division I team title winners:

1. UCLA... 99

2. Stanford... 92

3. USC... 84

4. Oklahoma State... 47

5. Arkansas... 44

6. Louisiana State... 40

7. Texas... 39

8. Michigan... 32

9. North Carolina... 31

10. Penn State... 30

Source: School sports information directors



A breakdown of the men's and women's NCAA Division I title teams at UCLA:


Volleyball (19)
1970 1984
1971 1987
1972 1989
1974 1993
1975 1995
1976 1996
1979 1998
1981 2000
1982 2006

Tennis (16)
1950 1970
1952 1971
1953 1975
1954 1976
1956 1979
1960 1982
1961 1984
1965 2005

Basketball (11)
1964 1971
1965 1972
1967 1973
1968 1975
1969 1995

Track & Field (8)
1956 1973
1966 1978
1971 1987
1972 1988

Water Polo (8)
1969 1996
1971 1999
1972 2000
1995 2004

Soccer (4)
1985 1997
1990 2002

Gymnastics (2)

Golf (1)

Swimming (1)


Softball (10)
1982 1990
1984 1992
1985 1999
1988 2003
1989 2004

Gymnastics (5)
1997 2003
2000 2004

Water Polo (4)
2001 2005
2003 2006

Volleyball (3)

OutdoorTrack & Field (3)

Indoor Track & Field (2)

Golf (2)

NOTE: The NCAA does not recognize an official Division I-A football champion.



National Titles



USC: 84

Ohio State:47

Arkansas Razorbacks: 44
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