NCAA reinstates Shabazz Muhammad
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
The NCAA announced Friday that star UCLA freshman forward Shabazz Muhammad has been reinstated to play immediately for the Bruins after the university “acknowledged amateurism violations” in an appeal to the association.
In a statement, the NCAA wrote, “The university required the student-athlete to miss 10 percent of the season (three games) and repay approximately $1,600 in impermissible benefits. The NCAA agreed the actions taken by the university were sufficient. Because Muhammad has already sat out three games, he is now eligible to compete.”
Less than 10 minutes after the announcement, Muhammad tweeted through his Twitter account @phenom15balla, “#FREE”.
In addition to what the NCAA has called other “pending issues,” the association has spent more than a year investigation three unofficial recruiting visits Muhammad made to two schools – North Carolina and Duke – that were paid for by North Carolina-based financial adviser Ben Lincoln.
The Muhammads have claimed that Lincoln has been a family friend for five years. And Muhammad’s attorney, Robert Orr, contends that Lincoln sought approval from the NCAA before paying for Muhammad’s travel and lodging.
Orr also said that Muhammad had no knowledge of who paid for the trips and that his father, Ron Holmes, completed all requisite paperwork related to Lincoln paying for the recruiting visits.
Orr told USA TODAY Sports that the NCAA has requested thousands of pages of documents, including years worth of bank records and credit card statements. He said that Muhammad conducted two interviews with NCAA enforcement staff and that Holmes and Muhammad’s mother, Faye Muhammad, interviewed with enforcement officials in early November.
“It is worse than an IRS audit,” Orr told USA TODAY Sports in a telephone interview Thursday. “You at least have rights with the IRS audit. I’m waiting for the press to realize that the system, which is supposed to be for the best interest of these young men and women, absolutely abuses them. It is just outrageous.”
In an email to USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday, NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn elaborated on the timeline of the investigation. She said that the NCAA staff requested specific documents on July 31 but did not receive the majority … [For more on NCAA reinstates Shabazz Muhammad, click here.]