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Saturday, August 27, 2005
Updated: August 31, 5:03 PM ET
Wooden withdraws support for Wooden Award

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Hall of Fame coach John R. Wooden, who led UCLA to 10 national championships, says that for the first time in nearly three decades he won't present the prestigious collegiate player of the year award bearing his name, due to a dispute with the group that sponsors the prize.

John Wooden
Wooden won't contest the Los Angeles Athletic Club's continuance of the award.

The 94-year-old Wooden, however, said he won't contest the use of his name for the award.

"I don't want anything to interfere with the continuation of the award," he told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Los Angeles Athletic Club President Steve Hathaway, whose group sponsors the award in concert with Wooden, said the dispute concerned Wooden's decision to lend his name to an unrelated award in January.

"As part of its stewardship of the award, the club has a legal duty to defend its trademarks that protect the award," Hathaway said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the story Saturday.

Hathaway said he was "shocked and saddened" by Wooden's decision.

Wooden family agent Mark Humenik said the two sides differed over how Wooden should be able to use his name. When asked if they might eventually reach an agreement, he said "never say never."

Wooden retired as UCLA's coach in 1975, after winning the 10 NCAA championships in his last 12 years. The Wooden Award has been given annually since then.

Past winners include Michael Jordan, David Robinson and Larry Bird.

Wooden gave the club the John R. Wooden trademark for the men's award, as well as one for women's player of the year and one for coaches.

"I'm not bitter," Wooden said. "I'm feeling better than I have a right to feel at my age. I've been blessed."