The three UCLA basketball players who were “suspended indefinitely” over a shoplifting scandal in China could end up being expelled, but there are several steps that must be taken before that decision is made. With their unique situation abroad being unprecedented, their future as students, let alone players, at the school is questionable, if not complicated.
Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley “did admit to breaking the law” after being accused by Chinese police of stealing sunglasses from a high-end retail store in Hangzhou on November 7, UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero said during a press conference on campus Wednesday. His office will “continue to review the matter, in collaboration with the University’s Office of Student Conduct,” he added.
While the UCLA Code of Conduct is a bit vague about what could possibly lead to expulsion, it does go into detail about what exactly a suspension entails.
“Suspension is the termination of UCLA student status for a specified academic term or terms, to take effect at such time as the Dean or the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs determines,” the code of conduct states. “A suspended student will be ineligible to enroll in UCLA Extension concurrent courses during the period of suspension.”
There are only four possible ways the suspensions could end with their return to full student status, including complying “with all conditions imposed as part of the Suspension.”
As far as expulsion goes, it would seem that just theft alone wasn’t enough for a full-fledged “dismissal,” which the school has defined in part as “the termination of University of California student status for an indefinite period and may include an exclusion from specified areas of the campus.” Still, that definition leaves the door open for a possible full return to the school.
The code of conduct addresses theft, but only in the context of school property.
The UCLA basketball team was in China to play a game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai last Friday, but the three players were forced to stay behind in Hangzhou while authorities investigated. Penalties for shoplifting in China could result in a prison sentence as long at 10 years.
President Donald Trump, who was in Asia at the time of the arrests, said he appealed to Chinese President Xi Jinping to help negotiate the players’ return to the U.S. The players returned on Tuesday, and Trump tweeted on Wednesday that they should thank him for intervening, which they did during their press conference that same day.
“I would also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided,” Ball said.