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Speraw returns to UCLA

Men's Volleyball

Men's volleyball coach guided Anteaters to three national titles and 199 wins in 10 seasons.

June 05, 2012|By Barry Faulkner
(Kevin Chang | Daily…)

The rumors that had circled him for a decade, formed more ominous clouds in the last 12 months and became tangible clues Monday night, were substantiated Tuesday, when UCLA announced it had hired John Speraw away from the UC Irvine men's volleyball program.

For Speraw, a return to his roots meant tearing asunder a decade worth of foundation for what had become the nation's leading program, with three NCAA titles in the last six seasons.

But ultimately, despite continually touting Orange County as his version of volleyball heaven, home was, and now becomes again, Westwood, where he played and coached under the legendary Al Scates.

Speraw, 199-106 at UCI, which he guided to NCAA titles in 2012, 2009 and 2007, as well as a 2006 Final Four appearance, will take over for Scates, who retired after 50 seasons and 19 NCAA crowns.

"There were a few components to my decision making, but certainly one of those was being back on [the UCLA] campus and walking around, which I hadn't done in 10 years," Speraw said. "I have a great feel for the campus and the people there. It's the same personality, values and character as the people at Irvine, but this is a completely different financial situation [at UCLA]."

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Speraw declined to relay specifics, but noted his UCLA contract is for more than five years. It also involves a "considerable" raise in salary.

"I will say that UC Irvine was very generous in trying to counter," Speraw said. "But what was difficult [for UCI] was to try to counter in all aspects of the UCLA program's budget, which is more than double what it was at UCI."

Speraw said the allure of a new challenge was also a factor and he felt that after 10 years, his work at UCI was done. Had all things been equal financially, he said he would likely have still chosen UCLA.

When Speraw choked up while talking about the post-final embrace with assistant coach Mark Presho early in Monday's postseason team banquet at UCI, the players took a mental note that a change may be in the offing. Speraw also elected to pass on making his scheduled closing comments at the banquet and, soon thereafter, informed his players by text message of an 8 a.m. Tuesday meeting on campus.

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