UCLA was without its star recruit for the first game at new Pauley Pavilion.
The NCAA declared freshman guard/forward Shabazz Muhammad ineligible as a result of violations of amateurism rules. According to the NCAA, Muhammad “accepted travel and lodging during three unofficial visits to two NCAA member schools.” It is still unclear how many games Muhammad is set to miss, but for now, the No. 1 recruit in the nation is suspended indefinitely until the NCAA reaches a decision.
“We are extremely disappointed that the NCAA has made this determination,” said UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero in a statement.
“The University and our compliance staff have fully cooperated with the NCAA throughout this entire period, and we believe the decision is incorrect and unjust to Shabazz.”
Guerrero also stated that UCLA plans to appeal the NCAA’s ruling. Muhammad’s ineligibility was announced just hours before Friday night’s season-opening 86-59 win against Indiana State.
“We were very optimistic that he was going to be cleared today. He obviously wasn’t, so we are very disappointed for him,” said coach Ben Howland.
“But the University has done a phenomenal job helping Shabazz and his family through the process.”
The investigation involving Muhammad has been on going for months, beginning before he committed to UCLA. The NCAA attributed the length of the process to the untimely submission of requested documents.
“The NCAA enforcement staff did not receive the majority of the requested documents for review until Sept. 25, followed by more information on Oct. 10, and the staff was granted access to additional critical information on Nov. 1,” the organization said.There is no definite timetable on when the NCAA will reach a final decision regarding when or if Muhammad will be eligible. For now, the team has no other option but to wait and see how the situation unfolds.
“We will see what happens,” said junior forward Travis Wear. “We would rather have him out there, and we hope that the NCAA will clear him as soon as possible.”
Freshman guard Kyle Anderson, who was declared eligible on Oct. 31, sympathizes with Muhammad’s situation.
“I think he has handled it extremely well ““ the best he possibly could. I went through the situation, and it was really tough,” Anderson said.
“It’s something that we are going to have to fight through. I think it is extremely frustrating for Shabazz for him not to be able to get out there, especially for such a great game like this when we are opening up a new building. But we are just being patient, waiting for him to come back and join us.”
The team managed to pull off a strong win on Friday night despite missing the program’s new focal point. Freshman guard Jordan Adams scored 21 points in UCLA’s win over Indiana State.
The team will face UC Irvine and James Madison this week before they head to Brooklyn for the Legends Classic.
Muhammad will continue to practice with the team until the 45-day window allowed by the NCAA for players under investigation expires.
After straining his shoulder in October, the freshman returned to practice for the first time the day before Friday’s season opener. According to Howland, he would have been available to play if he had been declared eligible.