UCLA announced Friday that Shabazz Muhammad has been declared ineligible to play. The decision changes the entire landscape of UCLA basketball.
UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero released this statement:
The NCAA has finally determined that a violation of the NCAA amateurism rules has occurred involving UCLA freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad and his family. As a result, he is ineligible for competition at this time. We are extremely disappointed that the NCAA has made this determination.
The Bruins went on to state that they will be appealing the decision and said, “the University and our compliance staff have fully cooperated with the NCAA throughout this entire period, and we believe the decision is incorrect and unjust to Shabazz.”
This is obviously a huge blow to a Bruins team that was seemingly on the rise. They will now have a harder time hanging in with the ultra-competitive Pac-12 if Muhammad can't play.
This decision has incredible ramifications for head coach Ben Howland as well.
Many believe that Howland is in a make-or-break season at UCLA, having not lived up to the incredible mantle that is Bruins basketball.
He seemed to have put together a team that could potentially save his job. However, without the extremely talented Muhammad at his disposal, Howland will have a harder time competing in the Pac-12 and in March. A failure to compete at a high level may spell the end of his run at UCLA.
This decision will also be pertinent to Kyle Anderson, UCLA’s other star freshman. The team is now his to lead, and he will have all eyes on him. Such a role could be incredibly beneficial to his draft stock, as he would have likely played second fiddle to Muhammad in the offense.
Overall, UCLA will have to hope that its appeal allows Muhammad the chance to play. Without him, the Bruins are simply not built to meet expectations.