The circus surrounding the UCLA basketball program is that of freshman phenom Shabazz Muhammad’s eligibility. Last Friday, the NCAA deemed Muhammad ineligible but refused to give a timeline as to when Muhammad would be allowed to suit up for the Bruins, if at all, in 2012-13.
After UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero released a salty statement, stating that the NCAA had “finally” come to a conclusion on Muhammad’s eligibility, the NCAA released a statement saying it had not received documents in a timely manner, pointing fingers at Muhammad’s family and UCLA.
Of course, the freshman’s parents released a statement regarding this in retaliation. From the LAT (it’s a long one):
Shabazz’s family is very distressed by the NCAA’s recent decision and the manner in which it was announced. Shabazz and his family have been cooperating with the NCAA for well over a year. Earlier this year, the NCAA asked Shabazz and his family not to reveal to each other or to the press facts related to the NCAA investigation. Despite the many untrue rumors which were circulating on the Internet, Shabazz and his family dutifully did what they were told. In order to entice Shabazz’s family and others to cooperate, the NCAA repeatedly gave assurances that it would keep details of the investigation strictly confidential. As recently as November 2012, the NCAA promised that it would not issue a Press Release.
“Last Friday, the NCAA released a Press Release which not only was wrong in its conclusions but which also inaccurately portrayed the investigation process in this case. For over a year, the NCAA has known all of the relevant facts related to its ruling last Friday. Prior to the unofficial visits in question, Ron Holmes and Benjamin Lincoln received approval from NCAA (through its member universities) for Mr. Lincoln (who has had a continuous close friendship with Shabazz’s family since 2007) to pay for airline tickets and hotel rooms. In 2010, Mr. Holmes openly and honestly revealed to the NCAA the source of the payments on the NCAA’s compliance form. Shabazz’s family is now faced with the situation where they are concerned that any attempt to tell more of their side of the story will result in further punitive action, as Shabazz is still under the mercy of the NCAA. Shabazz and his family will continue to honestly cooperate with the NCAA in the hopes that Shabazz soon will be allowed to play basketball at UCLA.”
Essentially, Shabazz’s family was told there would be no press release on Muhammad’s eligibility. Additionally, they contest the NCAA’s claims that the family did not refuse to release documents in a timely manner.
Of course, this doesn’t bode well for the NCAA and its image which has received a lot of damage due to the length of their investigation and even more damage since they’ve yet to reach a time-frame as to when Muhammad would be allowed to play.
In response to Shabazz Muhammad’s family’s statement, the NCAA released the following statement:
The NCAA sent the following statement to The Times:
“We stand by our previous statement. Further, the NCAA staff has remained true to their statements to the Muhammad family, and we are committed to resolving the remaining matters as quickly as possible.
“As we have said, the NCAA staff requested specific documents on July 31 to assist in the evaluation of Muhammad’s eligibility. However, the NCAA enforcement staff did not receive the majority of the requested documents for review until September 25, followed by more information on October 10, and the staff was granted access to additional critical information on November 1. On November 9, it was determined violations occurred, which was based on facts that were agreed upon by the university.
Basically, the NCAA re-iterated what it had said in its statement on Friday and placed the blame squarely back Shabazz’s family members. Of course, the NCAA said nothing new in this statement.
Overall, the mess with Muhammad’s ineligibility has been handled poorly and there are still a lot of questions unanswered, all while the freshman will likely see no game time in the next week.
Here’s to a quick and painless solution.