The UCLA Bruin program got some positive news before the start of the regular season, as freshman Kyle Anderson was cleared to play by the NCAA. Unfortunately for head coach Ben Howland, the news wasn’t as positive for fellow freshman Shabazz Muhammad.
Last week, mere moments before opening tip, the NCAA suspended Muhammad for violating their amateurism rules. Not only is that a nice vague statement, but the NCAA doesn’t have to comment on the matter. Leaving plenty of the Bruin faithful confused and angry with the decision handed down.
UCLA(Neither is Muhammad’s family) is not taking the suspension lying down and has filed an appeal on Muhammad’s behalf. Howland said that he expects the appeal to be heard on Friday. Here are some statements from Howland via a teleconference:
“I’m optimistic and hopeful that everything will work out,” he said. “Hopeful is a big part of it, too.”
UCLA fans have been highly supportive of Muhammad and have even been seen wearing “Free Shabazz” t-shirts. Granted Muhammad is expected to be one of the best players in the country so supporting him can be for selfish reasons. Howland thinks that it’s more than just that. Here he is talking about the “love” for Muhammad:
“This is their friend. They love their friend,” Howland said, adding, “That’s not something we’ll do in the future.”
It’s hard to predict what the NCAA will decide on Friday. The governing body of collegiate sports doesn’t seem to stick to its guns and tends to make rules up as it goes. It will be interesting to see what they will do considering the backlash they’ve received, not just with Muhammad but several other decisions, lately.
Joe covers the Big East for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone