Shabazz Muhammad‘s one word statement on his Twitter account says it all. “#FREE”
The NCAA announced Friday that the UCLA freshman has finally been cleared for play. The announcement comes hours after UCLA formally appealed the NCAA’s decision last week to declare Muhammad ineligible. The following comes from the NCAA’s official statement posted on their website.
“The NCAA and UCLA have resolved the eligibility case of Shabazz Muhammad. UCLA acknowledged amateurism violations occurred and asked the NCAA on Friday afternoon to reinstate Muhammad. 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. Because Muhammad has already sat out three games, he is now eligible to compete.”
This couldn’t come at a better time for Muhammad. Earlier reports indicated that he could potentially miss up to 10 games and now, he joins the No. 13-ranked Bruins (3-0) immediately as they prepare to face Georgetown on Nov. 19 and perhaps No. 1-ranked Indiana on the following day.
On the court, Muhammad makes the Bruins that much better as somebody who can create their own shot, score anywhere on the floor and has a killer instinct. He and fellow freshman Jordan Adams are now a 1-2 scoring punch that could rival any freshman tandem in the country.
It also a great shame for the NCAA, who had to deal with recent news of an attorney overhearing a conversation in August regarding their case against Muhammad. With that information leaked, there is no doubt they had to make their decision swiftly. I’m glad they did but it’s sad it took a whistleblower to perhaps expedite their process. It’s another embarrassment for an organization that has shown more interest in punishing student-athletes without exercising common sense.
That said, today is a day of celebration for not just UCLA, but basketball fans. A young man won the right to continue his athletic career and we as fans will be able to watch one of the top freshmen in the country do his work. It’s the right decision.
Follow me on Twitter: @Evan_B