Attorneys say family sought travel approval
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
The attorneys representing prized UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad contend that a financial adviser sought approval from the NCAA before he paid for Muhammad’s three unofficial visits to North Carolina and Duke, transactions that have resulted in Muhammad being ineligible to play during this ongoing investigation.
In a statement released first to the Los Angeles Times, attorneys at the law offices of Poyner Spruill state that North Carolina-based financial adviser Ben Lincoln “has indicated that he inquired with individuals affiliated with the NCAA, UNC and Duke. His recollection is that it would be permissible for him to assist with the trips providing that he was a long standing family friend and the expenditures were reported on the appropriate forms.”
Muhammad’s attorneys maintain that Lincoln has been a friend of the Muhammad family for more than five years. An email to the NCAA asking whether Lincoln sought approval to pay for the trips was not immediately returned.
Muhammad was unaware of how the trips were paid for and he never discussed the payment of the trips with his father, the attorneys’ statement says.
The statement from the attorneys sheds some light on how Muhammad’s family views the ongoing investigation by the NCAA, which has concluded that Muhammad violated amateurism rules. The attorneys claim the NCAA investigative process “effectively provides no rights to Shabazz” and that there has been no opportunity for Muhammad to contest the NCAA’s conclusion.
“The NCAA has effectively prohibited transparency in the investigation and the decision-making process,” the statement says. “The ability for Shabazz to clear his name and reputation is being jeopardized. We have consistently contended that Shabazz has not committed any violations of NCAA bylaws and is being unfairly punished. We continue to stand by that assertion.”
The NCAA has previously said in a statement that the association and UCLA were in agreement about the facts of the case: that Muhammad had three unofficial visits paid for to two schools (Duke and North Carolina) during the recruiting process.
Lincoln has acknowledged paying for the plane flights and lodging for those trips, his attorney, Bill Trosch, told USA TODAY Sports in August. … [For more on Muhammad attorneys say family sought travel approval, click here.]