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Shame on UCLA for Declining Donald Sterling's Money

05/09/2014 06:25 EDT | Updated 07/09/2014 05:59 EDT
ROBYN BECK via Getty Images
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attends the NBA playoff game between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors, April 21, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said April 26 that the NBA is investigating Sterling for alleged racist comments. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Research saves lives. Returning millions of dollars in funding does not.

Earlier this year, the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation pledged $3 million in support of basic kidney research to Dr. Ira Kurtz, a professor of medicine in UCLA's Division of Nephrology.

Following the controversy surrounding Donald Sterling's insensitive racial comments, in what seemed like a hasty move, UCLA announced its decision to return the $3 million pledge, after having accepted it.

Instead of using the publicity as an opportunity to promote the need for funding of underfunded basic kidney research, the university decided to return the gift because Donald Sterling, "...does not share UCLA's core values as a public university that fosters diversity, inclusion and respect."

Internet readers and columnists are speaking out against UCLA's decision. In response to an LA Times opinion piece published on May 6, 2014, in which the writer maintains that UCLA should have kept the money, a reader commented, "As long as it's legal money and is for a good cause, what difference does it make? Keep it. Derive some good from it. That's what matters...."

Over 85,000 people have responded to a poll thus far on TMZ's website that asked whether or not UCLA should return the money. Sixty-eight per cent said UCLA should keep the funds.

Many believe that UCLA is slamming the door in the face of those suffering from kidney disease. Had UCLA replaced the money, negative reactions may not have been as vocal.

On TMZ, Christina G. asked, "How selfish and uncaring of UCLA? People dying from kidney failure don't care where the research money comes from."

Echoing her sentiment, another TMZ reader responded, "I'd keep the money. Think of the good that the money will do to help people. Just because he said what he said, doesn't mean that there cannot be something good that comes out of the donation of money. It doesn't have anything to do with the situation. I doubt they get that kind of money every day. Why not use it to help others?"

UCLA's decision to return the funds impacts research on the structural properties of key proteins in the kidney that affect its function in health and disease. The goal of the project is to aid in the development of drugs to treat patients with kidney disorders. The funds are crucial to the advancement of kidney research.

What is the solution to this sad turn of events?

  1. UCLA presumably has deep pockets. UCLA could immediately refund the research money itself while at the same time demonstrating its support for kidney patients.
  2. The NBA could return Sterling's fine to UCLA to support kidney research.
  3. The NBA's global community outreach program, NBA Cares, which addresses important social issues such as education, youth and family development, and health and wellness could adopt kidney research as a cause for its teams to support.
  4. Individual NBA players and celebrities could step up to the plate and make generous donations to the Nephrology Division at UCLA.

Commenting on a related Huffington Post article from April 30, 2014, Bob Dias wrote, "Research dollars are hard to come by... UCLA's righteous indignation and misguided sense of moral superiority is of no solace to the millions of people who need a kidney."

Someone needs to speak up for those suffering from kidney disease. Donations are difficult to obtain, and basic kidney research dollars are even harder to acquire.

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