By ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is asking whether three UCLA basketball players released from detention in China will thank him.
Trump said he raised their case with China’s president when he visited Xi Jinping in Beijing last week.
Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill, and Cody Riley returned to Los Angeles on Nov. 14 and ignored questions from reporters. Trump returned late Tuesday from a trip through Asia and tweeted the following day: “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!”
The players were detained in Hangzhou following allegations of shoplifting last week before a game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai.
Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott has thanked Trump, the White House and the State Department for their efforts.
“We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university,” Scott said.
A person with knowledge of the Pac-12’s decision said any discipline involving the trio would be up to UCLA. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference doesn’t plan any sanctions.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said, “I want to be clear that we take seriously any violations of the law,” he said in a statement ,“In this particular case, both Athletics and the Office of Student Conduct will review this incident and guide any action with respect to the involved students. Such proceedings are confidential, which limits the specific information that can be shared.”
The Bruins traveled to China as part of the Pac-12’s global initiative that seeks to popularize the league’s athletic programs and universities overseas. The China Game is in its third year, and while the scandal was developing the league announced that California and Yale will play in next year’s edition.
The game is sponsored by Alibaba Group, the Chinese commerce giant that both UCLA and Georgia Tech visited before the shoplifting incident occurred.