Editor, Daily Nexus,

I’m sure glad UCSB Director of Athletics Gary Cunningham wasn’t involved in the hiring of Herb Kroemer, David Gross, Finn Kydland or even Walter Kohn. Had he been, I’m certain those talented Nobel Prize winners would have honed their skills at another fine institution. At least Gary Cunningham only gets to ruin the UCSB Athletics Dept. – especially men’s basketball.

Tomorrow night the UCLA Bruins will play the Florida Gators for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball title and one can’t help but wonder what could have been. UCLA is coached by Ben Howland. The same Ben Howland that helped bring the glory years in the late ’80s and early ’90s to UCSB and the same Ben Howland that literally begged to be the UCSB head coach just eight years ago. How could such a blunder happen?

Legend has it that an unnamed female in the Athletics Dept. didn’t like Howland so Cunningham went a different direction. I hope the former “Blizzard of Westwood” did his own research: maybe asked a few past Gaucho players what they thought of Coach Howland; maybe talked to a few coaches who really knew him. We’ll never know if Cunningham ever did much research of Ben Howland, but Pete Thamel of the New York Times sure did.

Thamel recently wrote a piece chronicling Howland over the past 12 years. In that article you find praises from Coaches Ed DeLacy and Jerry Pimm, and former UCSB players Gary Gray and Mike Doyle. Thamel found Doyle running Subway restaurants in Belgium to get the facts for his story. I doubt Cunningham would make a trip over to that same sandwich shop on Embarcadero del Norte for helpful information. I’d like to think Cunningham tapped UCSB all-time leading scorer and local resident Carrick DeHart or Brian Shaw. I guess we’ll never know. All I know is the best candidate for that position is coaching the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team now. One can only dream of the success we could have had.

I doubt we’ll ever get a chance to do what UCLA did and hire Ben Howland as basketball coach but Chancellor Henry T. Yang can copy UCLA another way: Fire Gary Cunningham.