Star UCLA recruit cleared to play

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 16 (UPI) --
The NCAA announced Friday it has reduced the punishment in the case of UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad and the star recruit is now eligible to play.

Last week the governing body of college athletics had declared Muhammad was ineligible to play this season because he had received benefits during the recruiting process that are not allowed under NCAA rules.

UCLA appealed the decision and the NCAA changed its decision so that Muhammad will receive only a three-game suspension. Since the Bruins have already played three games, Muhammad can begin competing immediately.

UCLA will next play on Monday against Georgetown in a tournament held in New York. The 14th-ranked Bruins are unbeaten in their three contests.

The NCAA said Muhammad, 19, was found to have received almost $1,600 in benefits -- which took the form of travel and lodging expenses during unofficial visits to member schools.

Muhammad will repay that amount to the schools involved.

"I am relieved that this long, arduous process has come to an end," said UCLA Coach Ben Howland. "So many people worked very hard on this case and I am eternally grateful to them as well as the Bruin family, who stood by us throughout. I am pleased that Shabazz will be able to begin his collegiate career."


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