The saga of Shabazz Muhammed has been well documented. He was the national high school player of the year last year before signing with the UCLA Bruins and giving them the top recruiting class for the 2012-2013 season. But an NCAA investigation into “impermissible benefits” left the star freshman benched before being declared ineligible earlier this week. UCLA appealed the decision and won as Shabazz Muhammed has officially been reinstated.
According to the NCAA, who released a statement explaining their decision, said that the eligibility concerns had been addressed. UCLA acknowledged amateurism violations occurred and asked the NCAA on Friday to reinstate Muhammed. 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 and because Muhammad has already sat out three games, he is now eligible to compete.
From the NCAA:
According to the facts of the case, which were agreed upon by the university and the NCAA staff, Muhammad accepted travel and lodging during unofficial visits to member schools. NCAA rules, which member schools create, state that student-athletes cannot receive benefits based on their athletic ability. NCAA amateurism rules are in place so that when student-athletes step onto the court, they are competing against other student-athletes who have met the same standards.
Shabazz will be immediately inserted into the lineup Monday night against the Georgetown Hoyas. UCLA went 3-0 without Muhammed, but was pushed to overtime in a one-point win over the UC Irvine Anteaters.
Muhammed figures to make an immediate impact and has been put on multiple player of the year watch lists before even touching the floor. UCLA will need him to play up to his potential as they try and restore the Bruins’ basketball mystique and save the reputation of the Pac 12 conference which has taken a beating in recent years.
UCLA students and fans, who organized a “Free Shabazz” movement on social media, immediately celebrated the decision with a combination of righteous indignation and surprise. Nobody is happier, though, than head coach Ben Howland.