UCLA announced Tuesday that it would reject a $3 million donation by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and would return the portion of that donation that had already been delivered, local CBS news affiliate KNX reports. The announcement is the latest public repudiation of Sterling after his privately expressed racist comments were recorded and exposed, and comes as the NBA prepares to force Sterling to sell his team.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday that Silver would be banned for life from any association with the league or his franchise. That decision satisfied many fans, but the public rejection of Sterling has only just begun. The Los Angeles City Council, for example, unanimously passed a resolution urging local news outlets to reject advertising for Sterling’s businesses, and expressed the city’s outrage at his remarks.
UCLA’s decision to reject Sterling’s donation may have helped it avoid public relations problems, as Sterling had previously placed ads touting the donation and claiming a laboratory was being named for him. “Mr. Sterling’s divisive and hurtful comments demonstrate that he does not share UCLA’s core values as a public university that fosters diversity, inclusion and respect,” UCLA said in a statement reported by Yahoo! Sports.
There is a precedent for universities returning donations from figures with extreme views. Harvard, for example, returned $2.5 million for Islamic studies from the president of the United Arab Emirates in 2004 after a student pointed out his ties to a think tank that promoted anti-American and antisemitic views. However, the cost to research at UCLA is significant, and many patients might have benefited from treatments that resulted.