UCLA’s Muhammad cleared by NCAA

The long-winded saga also known as the Shabazz Muhammad
case has come to an end.

The highly-touted freshman from Bishop Gorman High School in
Las Vegas has been reinstated by the NCAA.

“I am excited to be able to
play for UCLA starting next Monday,” Muhammad said in a written statement. “My family and friends were very
supportive of me throughout this process and I couldn’t have gone through this
without them.”

A week ago today, Muhammad was ruled ineligible by the NCAA
for a violation of amateurism rules.

UCLA filed an appeal, which was heard by the NCAA via
teleconference on Friday, resulting in Muhammad being reinstated with some
stipulations.

“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 released in a
statement. “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.”

UCLA and the NCAA agreed
Muhammad received financial assistance to take unofficial visits, which is a
no-no in the eyes of the NCAA.

“NCAA rules, which member
schools create, state that student-athletes cannot receive benefits based on
their athletic ability,” the NCAA statement read. “NCAA amateurism rules are in
place so that when student-athletes step onto the court, they are competing
against other student-athletes who have met the same standards.”

Howland acknowledged early
Friday, before the appeal hearing with the NCAA, that this is the first time
he’s ever gone through any situation like this with the NCAA. With today’s ruling, Howland
now has his entire recruiting class – which was rated the best in the country – intact.

“I
am relieved that this long, arduous process has come to an end,” Howland said in a written statement. “So many people
worked very hard on this case and I am eternally grateful to them as well as
the Bruin family, who stood by us throughout. I am pleased that Shabazz will be
able to begin his collegiate career.” 

Muhammad is considered the top
player in the country in the 2012 class and a lottery pick in next year’s
draft. He was named the MVP of the 2012 McDonald’s All-Star Game, the Morgan
Wooten Player of the Year, and the Naismith High School Boy’s Player of the
Year as a senior. Having him in the lineup significantly increases UCLA’s
chance of a return to the Final Four.

“He’s a great talent,” Howland
said. “He’s a great kid. He works extremely hard. He’s got a great motor, so I
think he’s going to be a heck of a player.”

No. 13 UCLA will travel to
Brooklyn on Saturday to conclude the Legends Classic at the brand new Barclays
Center. The Bruins will face Georgetown at 5 p.m. Monday, and after Friday’s
news from the NCAA should have Muhammad in the lineup. UCLA will conclude the
Legends Classic on Tuesday against Georgia or No. 1 Indiana.