Do not underestimate the power of fan support, or money. Just a week ago UCLA fans wore “Free Shabazz” t-shirts to support their star recruit that was being punished by the NCAA. Shabazz Muhammad‘s amateur status was being questioned by the NCAA because he was given money by a non family member so he could visit Duke and North Carolina. But because the NCAA is willing to be paid they have agreed to grant UCLA their waiver request for Muhammad.
NCAA student-athlete reinstatement guidelines say that when the value of benefits are greater than $1,000 (Muhammad received $1,600), the punishment is “withholding of 30 percent of eligibility for one season of competition and repayment.” Thirty percent of a college basketball season is considered nine games. However according to the NCAA, “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.”
Basically, Muhammad admits he broke the rules but send some cash to the NCAA and they will leave you alone. Muhammad’s family will have to repay the approximately $1,600 in impermissible benefits he was deemed to have accepted from a friend. And what about having to sit out “30% of the season” which is considered “9 games by the NCAA”? When asked by ESPN about the discrepancy, NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osbourn replied, “We don’t have anything to share beyond the statement at this point.”
The NCAA got bought and the Bruins benefit by getting back one of the best freshman in the country. Muhammad, a 6-foot-6 guard, will be eligible to compete Monday when UCLA plays Georgetown in the Legends Classic in New York.