LOS ANGELES, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- UCLA announced Thursday it will not renew the contract of men's soccer coach Todd Saldana after discovering his undergraduate diploma was not received from a properly accredited school.
Saldana has stated he will step down before the end of his deal in June 2002 to facilitate the transition.
The Bruins' coach for the last three seasons, as well as the women's coach for a year and a men's assistant from 1989-95, Saldana received his undergraduate degree from Columbia State University in January 1998. Later that year, law enforcement officers closed Saldana's alma mater, declaring the school a "diploma mill."
"We don't feel that there was any intent on coach Saldana's part to mislead the university," Bruins athletic director Peter Dalis said. "Coach Saldana believed he had received a degree from an institution that would satisfy UCLA's expectations regarding undergraduate education."
In his three years on the job, Saldana registered a 43-17-4 record and earned a berth into the NCAA Tournament, leading the Bruins into the final four in 1999.
"While I do not equate the receipt of an academic credential with one's ability to coach and administer a soccer program, I don't want to distract or detract from the successful men's soccer program that we've built here at UCLA," Saldana said.
The attention to academic credentials of coaches at all schools has increased since George O'Leary resigned as football coach at Notre Dame following the discovery of inaccuracies in his biography.