A sold-out crowd was in attendance as UCLA played its first game in its new home arena this weekend, but Shabazz Muhammad was sitting on the bench, after being declared ineligible by the NCAA because of violations of amateurism rules hours earlier. After a lengthy investigation, the NCAA noted that, in addition to other pending issues, the former SLAM High School Diarist accepted travel and lodging during three unofficial visits to Duke and North Carolina. It’s unknown how many games Muhammad will miss. UCLA will appeal the decision, and Bazz’s family has sounded off on the NCAA’s decision through the L.A. Times:
“Shabazz’s family is very distressed by the NCAA’s recent decision and the manner in which it was announced. Shabazz and his family have been cooperating with the NCAA for well over a year. Earlier this year, the NCAA asked Shabazz and his family not to reveal to each other or to the press facts related to the NCAA investigation. Despite the many untrue rumors which were circulating on the Internet, Shabazz and his family dutifully did what they were told. In order to entice Shabazz’s family and others to cooperate, the NCAA repeatedly gave assurances that it would keep details of the investigation strictly confidential. As recently as November 2012, the NCAA promised that it would not issue a Press Release.
“Last Friday, the NCAA released a Press Release which not only was wrong in its conclusions but which also inaccurately portrayed the investigation process in this case. For over a year, the NCAA has known all of the relevant facts related to its ruling last Friday. Prior to the unofficial visits in question, Ron Holmes and Benjamin Lincoln received approval from NCAA (through its member universities) for Mr. Lincoln (who has had a continuous close friendship with Shabazz’s family since 2007) to pay for airline tickets and hotel rooms. In 2010, Mr. Holmes openly and honestly revealed to the NCAA the source of the payments on the NCAA’s compliance form. Shabazz’s family is now faced with the situation where they are concerned that any attempt to tell more of their side of the story will result in further punitive action, as Shabazz is still under the mercy of the NCAA. Shabazz and his family will continue to honestly cooperate with the NCAA in the hopes that Shabazz soon will be allowed to play basketball at UCLA.”