LOS ANGELES (AP) — UCLA filed a formal appeal with the NCAA on Wednesday regarding freshman Shabazz Muhammad being ruled ineligible to play basketball for violating amateurism rules.
Coach Ben Howland said on a teleconference that the case is expected to be heard by NCAA appeals committee on Friday and the school hopes to have a resolution shortly thereafter.
“I’m optimistic and hopeful that everything will work out,” he said. “Hopeful is a big part of it too.”
If the committee rules in UCLA’s favor, Muhammad would likely become eligible immediately. But if the committee rules that a violation occurred, the appeal would be denied and Muhammad would have to go through the reinstatement process to regain his eligibility.
The NCAA announced last Friday, less than two hours before the Bruins’ season opener, that Muhammad was ineligible to play, leaving them without their highly touted recruit to start the season.
The NCAA found that Muhammad accepted travel and lodging during three unofficial visits to Duke and North Carolina.
Last week, athletic director Dan Guerrero said UCLA would appeal because it believed “the decision is incorrect and unjust to Shabazz.”
Muhammad has been practicing with the team and sat on the bench for the 13th-ranked Bruins’ first two games, both wins. They host James Madison on Thursday.
Howland said he spoke to his staff after freshmen Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Tony Parker wore “Free Shabazz” T-shirts during warm ups before Tuesday night’s game without the coach’s knowledge. Fans have held up similar signs and shouted the slogan during games.
“This is their friend. They love their friend,” Howland said, adding, “That’s not something we’ll do in the future.”
Anderson, who started the first two games, sustained a bone contusion on his right wrist in the first half Tuesday night. The guard will be a game-time decision on Thursday as will guard Tyler Lamb, who missed Tuesday’s game because of a swollen left knee.
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