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UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad is not expected to play this week

November 12, 2012|By Baxter Holmes
  • Shabazz Muhammad watches UCLA play Indiana State on Nov. 9.
Shabazz Muhammad watches UCLA play Indiana State on Nov. 9. (Los Angeles Times )

UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad is not expected to be cleared by the NCAA in time for him to play in the Bruins' next two games, said people close to the situation who are not authorized to speak publicly. 

The Bruins face UC Irvine on Tuesday and James Madison on Thursday. Both games are at Pauley Pavilion.

The highly touted 6-foot-6 swingman sat out the Bruins' season opener Friday against Indiana State after being declared ineligible by the NCAA hours before tipoff.

The NCAA stated that it uncovered a violation of its amateurism rules after a lengthy investigation, noting that, in addition to other pending issues, Muhammad accepted travel and lodging during three unofficial visits to two schools. The schools are Duke and North Carolina.

The unofficial visits were paid for by North Carolina-based financial advisor Benjamin Lincoln, a person close to the situation said. Lincoln's brother, Geoff, is an assistant coach at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, where Muhammad went to high school.

Muhammad's family has said that Lincoln is a friend — and the NCAA does allow for financial aid to be awarded to an athlete provided that it's from someone with a preexisting relationship.

But UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said Friday that the NCAA determined the Muhammad family's relationship with Lincoln "would not have allowed ... the family to receive the benefits that they got."

The Times reported Saturday that Muhammad could miss 10 basketball games before he is cleared to compete for the Bruins, according to guidelines the NCAA uses to establish eligibility.

That figure is based on The Times' understanding of the alleged violations the NCAA cited in its decision. 
The total cost of those three trips was between $1,500 and $2,000, people close to the situation said. 

According to NCAA reinstatement guidelines, a prospective student-athlete who is ruled to have received more than $1,000 in impermissible benefits must repay the cost of those benefits and would be punished by being declared ineligible for 30% of a season.

UCLA has a 32-game schedule, meaning the punishment would last 10 games. The Bruins' 11th game is against Prairie View A&M — about two weeks before the start of the Pac-12 Conference season.

Still, the number of games Muhammad might miss could change if the NCAA finds mitigating or aggravating factors as it continues to examine the case before making any additional ruling.

A final determination could be announced as early as this week, according to people close to the situation who are not authorized to speak publicly while the case is being studied.

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