UCLA basketball player Shabazz Muhammad's lawyers are asking the NCAA to drop their investigation and declare him eligible to play after details of a conversation on a commuter flight surfaced, reports the LA Times.
The conversation came to light in an email from an attorney who said she was seated behind a man who was speaking loudly about the work of his girlfriend, an 'attorney with the NCAA.'
The girlfriend, whom he identified as 'Abigail,' was investigating Muhammad. The man made it clear that the NCAA would find Muhammad ineligible and not allow him to play this season, the email said. Abigail Grantstein, an assistant director of enforcement, is the NCAA's lead investigator on the Muhammad case.
The conversation, which took place on Aug. 7, suggested that the NCAA prejudged their ruling on Muhammad. The attorney confirmed the story in a telephone interview with the LA Times on Wednesday:
"He was insistent that, 'My girlfriend is investigating him and he's dirty' and … 'I can guarantee you that he's not going to play.'
He talked specifically about taking money. That's what he kept saying: 'Abby knows it' and 'They're dirty and they were taking money and she's going to get them.'"
Bill Trosch, the attorney representing the Muhammad family said,
"This confirms our greatest fears, that this case was decided long before the facts were gathered…. This taints the whole process, and I think Shabazz should be able to play immediately."The NCAA declared Muhammad ineligible to play because he received improper benefits during recruiting and violated the NCAA's amateurism rules. UCLA appealed the NCAA's decision on Wednesday, and an appeals committee will hear the case on Friday.