UCLA has not appealed NCAA’s decision regarding Shabazz Muhammad
As of Monday, UCLA had not filed a formal appeal to the NCAA regarding its decision to declare freshman Shabazz Muhammad ineligible, a school official confirmed.
Instead, the school is formulating its next move while awaiting what the NCAA ultimately decides regarding the highly touted 6-foot-6 swingman’s immediate future — and the NCAA’s decision could be announced as early as this week, according to people close to the situation who are not authorized to speak publicly.
The Times reported Saturday that Muhammad could miss 10 basketball games before he is cleared to compete for the Bruins, according to guidelines the NCAA uses to establish eligibility.
That figure is based on The Times’ understanding of the alleged violations the NCAA cited in its decision.
Still, the number of games Muhammad might miss could change if the NCAA finds mitigating or aggravating factors as it continues to examine the case before making any additional ruling.
In its statement Friday, the NCAA indicated that it had uncovered a violation of its amateurism rules after a lengthy investigation, noting that, in addition to other pending issues, Muhammad accepted travel and lodging during three unofficial visits to two schools. The schools are Duke and North Carolina.
The unofficial visits were paid for by North Carolina-based financial advisor Benjamin Lincoln, a person close to the situation said. Lincoln’s brother, Geoff, is an assistant coach at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, where Muhammad went to high school.
Muhammad’s family has said that Lincoln is a friend — and the NCAA does allow for financial aid to be awarded to an athlete provided that it’s from someone with a preexisting relationship.
But UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said Friday that the NCAA determined the Muhammad family’s relationship with Lincoln “would not have allowed ... the family to receive the benefits that they got.”
Guerrero also said that UCLA planned to appeal the NCAA’s decision to declare Muhammad ineligible.
“The University and our compliance staff have fully cooperated with the NCAA throughout this entire period, and we believe the decision is incorrect and unjust to Shabazz,” Guerrero said in a statement. “UCLA will expeditiously pursue its options to challenge this determination.”
Muhammad is not expected to be cleared by the NCAA in time for him to play in the Bruins’ next two games, people close to the situation said. The Bruins face UC Irvine on Tuesday and James Madison on Thursday. Both games are at Pauley Pavilion.
In the meantime, UCLA has two options to consider in trying to help Muhammad gain his eligibility.
The school and NCAA enforcement already agreed on the facts on the case, and therefore it was determined by the NCAA that he couldn’t play in UCLA’s opener against Indiana State on Friday, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who spoke anonymously because the case is ongoing.
The options are now as follows:
1) UCLA, even though it has accepted the facts of the case, could disagree that a violation occurred and appeal, as Guerrero said it plans to do. The case then would go to an NCAA appeals committee. If the committee sided with UCLA, Muhammad would probably become eligible immediately.
But if it ruled that a violation did occur, the appeal would be denied and Muhammad would have to go through a reinstatement process to regain his eligibility.
2) UCLA could accept that there was a violation and go immediately to reinstatement process.
Both the appeals and reinstatement processes would be expedited, the person said, “because the season is now underway.”
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