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UCLA NOTEBOOK: BARRETT `A FACTOR,' LAVIN SAYS.

Byline: Billy Witz Staff Writer

The relationship between UCLA and traveling-team coach Pat Barrett remains a cozy one at a time when many in the basketball community are distancing themselves from the influential Orange County resident.

Barrett has been a target of least three investigations, including the NCAA's current probe in which it is examining a phone call to a recruit made by Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone.

Barrett, whose six-figure deal with Nike was not renewed recently, was the subject of a Sports Illustrated report this week in which he was accused of routinely lavishing gifts and cash on his players, an act that would jeopardize their amateur status.

Barrett was a guest at a UCLA practice on Tuesday, a day before the SI report was published, and Bruins coach Steve Lavin defended their relationship.

``Any coach in the country understands that Pat Barrett is always going to have some of the best talent in Southern California playing for him,'' said Lavin, whose prize recruit, Cedric Bozeman, has played for Barrett's Orange County-based team.

``As a result, he's going to be a factor in the recruiting process.''

On occasion this fall, Barrett brought four of his star players - Tyson Chandler, Josh Childress, Jamal Sampson and Bozeman - to tour the campus and meet with coaches.

Childress signed a letter of intent with Stanford, Sampson with Cal and Chandler is expected to make himself available for the NBA draft.

Lavin said he would not reconsider his ties with Barrett in light of the SI story, in which one of Barrett's former players, Kenny Brunner, said he received a car and $10,000 cash while playing for Barrett.

``Coaches realize this is the culture we live in,'' said Lavin, noting that coaches like Kansas' Roy Williams, Stanford's Mike Montgomery and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski have signed some of Barrett's players.

Yet, those schools have not landed in trouble because of their relationship with Barrett.

--In October, Malone, the Dodgers' GM, got Lavin in hot water when he borrowed the coach's phone and mistakenly left a message with Sampson rather than Barrett, asking why he wasn't pushing Sampson to UCLA. The Pac-10 and NCAA are investigating the relationship between UCLA, Barrett and the Dodgers.

--In May 1998, an NCAA investigation concluded that UCLA had violated NCAA rules by providing Barrett with an excessive amount of free tickets to UCLA home games and giving him a 1995 national-championship ring.

--In 1995, the Pac-10 investigated the relationship between Barrett and UCLA when Olujumi Mann committed to UCLA shortly after it was reported that Barrett had signed over a car to Mann that he had bought for $13,000.

One of Barrett's main benefactors at the time, Frank Pritt, had also been a six-figure donor to UCLA. The investigation petered out when Mann was unable to qualify academically.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 24, 2001
Words:471
Previous Article:LOCAL ROUNDUP: MURRAY SPARKS LMU VICTORY.
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