The NCAA’s investigation into Shabazz Muhammad — the UCLA freshman basketball player who was controversially ruled ineligible last week — took a strange turn overnight.Baxter Holmes of the LA Times reports that the boyfriend of the lead investigator in the case, Abigail Grantstein, was overheard saying Grantstein knew Muhammad was “dirty” and would never play for UCLA on a flight from Chicago to Memphis on August 7.
The problem — the investigators only requested documents from the Muhammad family eight days before that flight, and didn’t receive those documents until September 25.
Based on that timeline, Muhammad’s lawyer told the Times this, “This confirms our greatest fears, that this case was decided long before the facts were gathered. This taints the whole process, and I think Shabazz should be able to play immediately.”
Muhammad was ruled ineligible by the NCAA just hours before UCLA’s first game of the year last weekend. The NCAA says he violated rules when a financial advisor named Benjamin Lincoln paid for three unofficial recruiting trips to UNC and Duke.
The Muhammad family says Lincoln has been a family friend for five years, and he should be allowed to pay for the trips.
The seeming pettiness of the violation, and the slow speed at which the NCAA has conducted its investigation, has sparked outrage on the UCLA campus. Flea, the bassist for the Red Hot chilli Peppers, wore a “Free Shabazz Muhammad” t-shirt while performing the national anthem on Friday, and UCLA players followed up by wearing “Free Shabazz” t-shirts during pregame warmups on Tuesday.
Muhammad was the No. 2 recruit in the country coming out of high school.
The NCAA says this is the first it has heard about the aeroplane conversation.
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