According to a Los Angeles Times article, Attorneys representing Shabazz Muhammad have suggested the NCAA drop its investigation of the UCLA freshman and declare him eligible immediately. The suggestion comes on the heels of a new revelation in which Muhammad’s team of lawyers believes the investigation lacked “impartiality.”
An attorney, who is not associated with the investigation or the Muhammad family, claims she heard a conversation on Aug. 7 where a man said that his girlfriend was an NCAA attorney investigating Muhammad. The woman who heard the conversation claims she was seated behind the man on a flight from Chicago to Memphis and that he was speaking openly about his girlfriend’s work involving the 6-foot-6 swingman.
Allegedly, the man on the plane claimed that Muhammad would be ruled ineligible. The key to this news is that the date of the flight was Aug. 7. Muhammad was ruled ineligible on Nov. 9. The timing would suggest that a decision had been made on Muhammad’s eligibility before the investigation had been completed.
“This confirms our greatest fears, that this case was decided long before the facts were gathered,” Bill Trosch, who is an attorney representing the Muhammad family, said. “This taints the whole process, and I think Shabazz should be able to play immediately.”
The attorney who claims she heard the NCAA attorney’s boyfriend on the plane sent an email to Muhammad’s attorneys informing them of the conversation she overheard on the plane. The woman who claims she overheard the conversation makes some damning allegations. She spoke to Baxter Holmes of the LA Times on the condition of anonymity. “I was more offended in the delight he seemed to take in something that was very serious and could ruin this man’s life, which is the reason that this stuck with me,” she said referring to the NCAA attorney’s boyfriend and his nonchalance over the issue.
The NCAA is certainly not the most popular organization and the accusations should result in further distrust. These revelations also give cause for Bruin fans to become more upset their potential star cannot play. Regardless of whether the accusations are true, the NCAA has a reputation for conducting their business without regard for these college athletes’ future or, in general, fairness.
A recent example of this lack of fairness is the case of Sam Cassell Jr. and Myles Davis. Each player was expected to play their freshman seasons at Maryland and Xavier, respectably, but they were ruled ineligible by the NCAA after they took core classes in high school that were “invalidated.” The school they attended, Notre Dame Prep, was put on a “watch list” by the NCAA.
The problem is that when they took the core classes, the courses had not been invalidated yet by the NCAA. Casell Jr. and Davis graduated with qualifying grade-point-averages. However, the NCAA ruled after their high school careers that those classes did not really count. The players were left with a diploma that held credibility everywhere but with the NCAA and were punished for taking courses that were required by their school. If the NCAA cared about the young men’s future, they could have allowed them to play and then make clear that future athletes would have to account for the invalid classes at Notre Dame Prep. Instead, Casell Jr. and Davis are left with uncertain futures when they did absolutely nothing against the rules.
This case is another example of where the NCAA hands down rulings that neglect to recognize they are dealing with young peoples’ lives. Maybe Muhammad did accept benefits that he should not have. However, it is important that these players remain innocent until proven guilty and young men like Muhammad are given a fair chance.