A last-minute transfer for former UCLA gymnast Selena Harris

The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, May 18, 2024

Happy Gymnastics Saturday! The NCAA gymnastics transfer portal closed this week, but not without one final leap as the door swung shut. UCLA standout Selena Harris, a rising junior, was dismissed from the team Tuesday afternoon and entered the portal.

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Harris was UCLA’s top all-arounder this year and was one of two athletes, along with Chae Campbell, who made it to nationals after the team was shut out in regionals. She competed on beam in Fort Worth and scored a 9.95, good for a third-place tie on the event and First Team All-American status. 

But following nationals, many gym fans spotted Harris liking comments on social media that hinted at something more than mere disappointment in UCLA’s failure to make nationals. Some of the comments observed that Harris had “carried” the team all season, or that UCLA had failed to live up to its potential. Some speculated that Harris would transfer, and at one point, she responded that she would continue with the team.

“Well, this was sweet, but I want more,” Harris wrote. “*see u next year bruin nation with a real big team that is working on some real [Big Ten] dreams.”

Harris edited that post this week. The second sentence now reads, “*see u next year with a real big team that is working on some real BIG dreams.” 

Coupled with the dismissal announcement from UCLA, it seems certain now that we won’t be seeing Harris in blue and gold next year.

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On the one hand, I wish we could normalize transferring and acknowledge that it doesn’t always mean there’s drama. Sometimes it means one team was a poor fit for any of several reasons, sometimes it means wanting to make more lineups, sometimes it means making fewer but having a better chance at going to nationals. Sometimes it means wanting to be closer to home, sometimes it means wanting to go farther afield — look at the gymnasts in recent years who have transferred from East Coast schools to the University of Alaska! 

On the other hand, the word “dismissal” connotes some kind of drama, even if it was not loud and messy drama. It’s a loaded word, and even more so coming from a university public relations professional. 

So I hope Harris finds a team that makes her happy and vice versa, and I hope that UCLA weathers this storm as it has others. 

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Other gym news

The Harris news overshadowed the other big NCAA gym news this week, which was Larissa Libby resigning from Iowa during an investigation into the program’s environment. Iowa had hired an independent investigator in March after receiving complaints from athletes and staff. 

The Core Hydration Classic is today in Hartford, Connecticut! This elite meet features, for what we think is the first time ever, three Olympic all-around champions: Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee and Gabby Douglas. Watch the first session senior competition today on USAG’s YouTube from 2-4 p.m. ET and the second session (which will feature Biles, Lee and Douglas) on Peacock from 7-9 p.m. ET. 

Here are the start lists for Session 1 and Session 2

College Gym News brought us the results from Level 10 Nationals and a funny piece about kids’ thoughts on what gymnastics event is the most difficult

Florida’s Owen Field was promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach. 

Emily Giambalvo of The Washington Post created an interactive for building a U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, and it’s awesome. 

A four-part documentary about Simone Biles’ path back to the gym after the Tokyo Olympics will air on Netflix in July. It is called “Simone Biles: Rising.” 

Alyona Schennikova will return for a fifth year at LSU. 

As will Sierra Ballard. 

Three of Michigan’s seniors will also return:

Carly Bauman

Reyna Guggino

Jenna Mulligan

Germany’s Sophie Scheder announced her retirement from elite gymnastics. 

Catch the All Things Gymnastics interview with new Georgia head coach Cecile Canqueteau-Landi.

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Written by Lela Moore