The three UCLA basketball players who were arrested for shoplifting in China — LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill, and Cody Riley — are back in the United States. After a strange saga that involved Donald Trump asking China’s president for leniency for the trio of freshmen, all that is left is for the basketball program to respond now that the trio have returned home.
On Wednesday, we learned how UCLA coach Steve Alford plans on disciplining Ball, Hill, and Riley. The program announced that all three players are suspended indefinitely and that they will not be able to travel with the team to away games as punishment for causing a minor international incident.
Alford additionally said that the players “will have to earn their way back,” according to Edward Aschoff of ESPN.
Of course, “indefinitely” is a strange word in college athletics. It gives coaches the leeway to play a suspension by ear, and there have been plenty of examples of coaches suspending players for an undetermined period of time only to bring them back for a big game or a tough stretch of matchups where the player is needed.
This still feels like it is different, as it this incident involved the players and the program looking bad on an international large scale and needed the President of the United States to get involved. It’ll be interesting to see if this suspension keeps them out for a few games, or if it’s the type of thing that will keep them sidelined for a long time.