The ongoing saga with UCLA‘s Shabazz Muhammad continued on Tuesday as Muhammad’s family released a statement on the NCAA‘s decision to declare him ineligible. First reported by the LA Times, here is the full statement.
“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 Ben 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.”
Let’s break this down. The most revealing bit of information is that Ben Lincoln, the financial adviser in question who paid for Muhammad’s trips to visit Duke and North Carolina, has known the family since 2007. That means the relationship started before Muhammad was in high school and one can assume that their relationship was less influential, more personal.
Second, if Lincoln and Ron Holmes received NCAA approval then the next move would be for the NCAA to back that up. 2010 was either Muhammad’s sophomore or junior season so clearly somebody knew for a long time that these payments were going on.
Third, Muhammad’s family made a strong accusation that the NCAA misled them on how the information would be revealed. There was no press conference but a press release, something they were led to believe would not be the case. If they were told one thing and the NCAA did another, it speaks to how this entire process has been mishandled.
The NCAA has not responded to this statement as of press time. In an investigation that has happened for a year, the organization has remained silent and placed Muhammad’s family and UCLA at their mercy. It’s business as usual for an entity that claims to be about student athletes while revealing something different with their actions. The process has taken entirely too long for too little to be said and it’s a shame because the ones most hurt by this are a 19-year-old young man and his family.
Hopefully the NCAA will formally announce their findings soon. Muhammad’s family has made some strong yet relevant claims and they deserve to be given an answer.
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