Shabazz Muhammad has been set free.
As a result of UCLA’s Friday hearing with the NCAA appeals committee, the 6-foot-6 Muhammad was cleared by the NCAA of amateurism violations and can suit up Monday against Georgetown in the Legends Classic in Brooklyn.
“I am excited to be able to play for UCLA starting next Monday,” Muhammad, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, said in a statement. “My family and friends were very supportive of me throughout this process and I couldn’t have gone through this without them.”
Said UCLA head coach Ben Howland: “I am relieved that this long, arduous process has come to an end. 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.”
Here’s the NCAA’s statement:
The NCAA and UCLA have resolved the eligibility case of Shabazz Muhammad. 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. 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.
According to the facts of the case, which were agreed upon by the university and the NCAA staff, Muhammad accepted travel and lodging during unofficial visits to member schools. NCAA rules, which member schools create, state that student-athletes cannot receive benefits based on their athletic ability. 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.
When a school discovers an NCAA rules violation has occurred, it must declare the student-athlete ineligible and may request the student-athlete’s eligibility be reinstated. The NCAA staff reviews each student-athlete reinstatement request individually based on its own merits and set of specific facts.
Earlier Friday, Howland said he was hopeful that Muhammad would be cleared.
“He’s a great talent, he’s a great kid, he works extremely hard, he’s got a great motor,” Howland said, “so I think he’s going to be a heck of a player.”