Remember when UCLA landed Shabazz Muhammad and we were all excited, while crazy Kentucky fans were saying under their breath that Muhammad and UCLA could be reprimanded for recruiting violations?
Yeah, well we blew that off for the time being, and now the story has come. Apparently, Muhammad is not eligible for the Bruins’ trip to China because the NCAA is investigating any possible improper benefits received during his recruitment. From Zag’s Blog:
UCLA freshman wing Shabazz Muhammad is ineligible for the team’s upcoming trip to China while the NCAA investigates the improper benefits he received during his recruitment.
“Since the investigation won’t be totally clear, they wanted to hold him out for China,” a source with direct knowledge who requested anonymity because he is not permitted to comment on the ongoing NCAA investigation told SNY.tv.
Obviously, Shabazz Muhammad was a highly-coveted recruit and UCLA had been recruiting him for years prior to his signing this past spring. There was also speculation about Muhammad’s connection to Adidas.
Of course, this is a separate matter, and may have more to do with the visits he took. Here’s more of the report:
The NCAA is looking into how two people helped pay for Muhammad’s recruiting visits, but the source said Muhammad’s family is working with the UCLA compliance department and hopes to have the situation worked out before the regular season starts.
“It’s an ongoing investigation, [the family] is still working with the compliance department,” the source said. “Because they’re not going to be finished with the investigation, they’re going to hold him out.”
So these were for, specifically, recruiting visits. Of course, the way it’s written, it seems like it’s a minor deal. Saying things like, “hopes to have the situation worked out before the regular season starts” seems like this investigation is more of a formality.
Let’s be hypothetical, though, since everyone will blow this out of proportion (before there’s any sort of definitive news). If Muhammad is somehow found to be ineligible for any part of the regular season, then Ben Howland will not only have a hard time keeping his team afloat in the regular season, but he’ll have a hard time keeping his job because running a clean program is the first, most basic rule of becoming a UCLA head coach.
Of course, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about these things; being in denial is one thing, but pretending to be harsh when there’s not enough information available to us is another.
We’ll keep you updated.