First take on Shabazz Muhammad

No new info yet as the game rolls on, but here’s a quick take from columnist Tom Hoffarth, who’s filling in as I’m already in Spokane:

Tip-off had not even occurred Friday night for UCLA’s season opener in the newly refurbished Pauley Pavilion before things somewhat short circuited.

Highly touted freshman recruit Shabazz Muhammad was ruled unavailable for an undisclosed amount of time because the NCAA decided he violated amateurism rules, the school confirmed.

The NCAA’s ruling came in a statement from athletic director Dan Guerrero about an hour before 80 minutes before the Bruins’ opener against Indiana State was still celebrated.

“The NCAA has finally determined that a violation of the NCAA amateurism rules has occurred involving UCLA freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad and his family,” Guerrero said. “As a result, he is ineligible for competition at this time. We are extremely disappointed that the NCAA has made this determination.”

Guerrero said UCLA has been in full compliance and will continue to challenge the NCAA’s decision, which he says “is incorrect and unjust to Shabazz.”

The NCAA’s statement said Muhammad was ineligible for accepting travel and lodging during three unofficial visits to two schools. While it did not put a timeline on when Muhammad could be eligible, it said that “the expediency of these decisions can hinge on the level of timely cooperation of all involved parties.”

The NCAA said it requested specific documented on July 31 but did not receive them until Sept. 25, “followed by more information on October 10, and additional critical information on November 1.” The NCAA said UCLA then submitted “agreed-upon facts” on Friday afternoon and “then rendered a decision within a matter of hours. As demonstrated by the facts, we are committed to resolving the remaining matters as quickly as possible.”

Muhammad has been under investigation for months for allegedly receiving improper benefits from boosters of an Las Vegas AAU program. He also allegedly received improper airline flights for some of his recruiting visits, as he picked UCLA over Kentucky and Duke. Muhammad had been practicing with the Bruins until he strained his right shoulder on Oct. 25 and his recovery seemed to make him physically able to play in the opener.

Freshman Kyle Anderson was cleared by the NCAA last week after being investigated for potential recruiting violations. The NCAA said it found no evidence to substantiate such claims. The forward from Jersey City, N.J., was among the nation’s top recruits last spring .

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  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.hersberger Mark Hersberger

    What is the point of this “take?” The dueling official statements make things pretty clear.

    • http://twitter.com/thejackwang Jack Wang

      Good point, but still some context for the very, very few people who haven’t followed the saga. Or just don’t want to scroll down.