As expected, UCLA announced Wednesday that it has filed a formal appeal of the NCAA's finding of ineligibility against celebrated freshman Shabazz Muhammad.
Bruins coach Ben Howland announced the appeal, adding that the appeal is being fast-tracked, with a hearing due Friday and a hoped-for decision "shortly thereafter," ESPNLosAngeles.com reported.
"At this time I'm optimistic and hopeful that everything is going to work out," Howland said. "That's about all I can say. Hopeful is a big part of that."
Muhammad has been declared ineligible for reportedly receiving improper benefits related to expenses for unofficial campus visits he made during the recruiting period. Those benefits reportedly included being compensated for lodging and other travel expenses, which is a violation of NCAA rules.
UCLA sought the appeal process first over reinstatement because if the appeal is won, Muhammad could be reinstated immediately. If the appeal fails, the school can then seek reinstatement, but knowing that Muhammad would likely face some kind of penalty -- most likely a suspension of some type -- as well as the repayment by him and his family of the benefits he reportedly received.
UCLA (2-0) lost Muhammad in a most inconvenient way: 90 minutes before the team's season began at its Pauley Pavilion (renovated during the offseason to the tune of $136 million) home last Friday.