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Two UCLA freshman basketball players have no timeline on NCAA probes

Kyle Anderson inquiry, which appears to be focused on relationship between his father and agent, is dragging on longer than expected. In Shabazz Muhammad's case, money issues are under investigation.

October 21, 2012|By David Wharton and Baxter Holmes
  • In Shabazz Muhammad's case, money issues are under investigation.
In Shabazz Muhammad's case, money issues are under investigation. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

A month ago, people in and around the UCLA basketball program expected a quick end to the NCAA investigation of freshman Kyle Anderson.

This wasn't supposed to be like teammate Shabazz Muhammad's case, they said. It wasn't supposed to drag on.

But as the Bruins enter their second full week of practice, both players are facing a similar predicament. They have been given no timeline for a resolution and feel as if they are operating in the dark.

"We have attempted to answer any question, provide any documentation that we can, but one of the problems is not knowing specifically any real issue or question that the NCAA has," said Robert Orr, the attorney representing Muhammad.

Investigators are looking into financial assistance Muhammad received from a man the family has characterized as a longtime friend. They have also asked about money that a financial planner gave to Muhammad's summer team in Las Vegas.

Anderson's probe still appears focused on the relationship between his father and NBA agent Thad Foucher, according to people with knowledge of the situation who are not authorized to speak publicly.

Kyle Anderson Sr. and Foucher met more than a decade ago as opposing coaches on the AAU circuit, Foucher with the New Orleans Jazz and Kyle Sr. with the New Jersey-based Playaz Basketball Club.

Their teams went head to head at a Las Vegas tournament in 1999. Foucher's squad — led by eventual Duke star and Lakers guard Chris Duhon — came out on top.

Foucher eventually left the Jazz to become an agent and now works with Arn Tellem at the Wasserman Media Group, which was founded by Casey Wasserman, a UCLA alumnus and prominent booster.

The agent's relationship with Kyle Sr. has endured if only because he has represented a number of Playaz athletes who reached the NBA, including Wayne Ellington, Gerald Henderson and J.R. Smith.

Kyle Sr., who works as a crisis intervention specialist for a Jersey City school, still serves as assistant director for Playaz, an organization that was sponsored by Adidas — like UCLA — but switched to Nike a few years ago.

He declined to comment and Foucher did not return phone calls. Both men have been interviewed by NCAA investigators over the last few months, people with knowledge of the situation said.

At this point, there is still hope that Anderson's case can be resolved soon. He is practicing daily with the Bruins and may continue to do so for about 35 more days.

But if the NCAA does not clear him by then, he must cease to participate in team activities until a decision is reached. The same ticking clock applies to Muhammad.

The consensus national high school player of the year last season, Muhammad has been represented by Orr since last fall. Orr is a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice who was previously involved in a case against North Carolina football players accused of academic misconduct and receiving improper benefits.

Once Muhammad signed a letter of intent with UCLA, the university began paying his legal bills, as allowed by NCAA regulations.

"Our position has been and continues to be that Shabazz has done absolutely nothing in violation of any NCAA bylaw," Orr said.

The attorney has raised questions about the NCAA's right to scrutinize past events.

"Shabazz didn't even turn 18 until November of 2011 and until he signed with UCLA in April of this year was not under NCAA jurisdiction," Orr said.

The NCAA has yet to formally interview Muhammad's parents, Ron Holmes and Faye Muhammad, those with knowledge of the situation said.

david.wharton@latimes.com

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

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