Just when you thought the Shabazz Muhammad saga couldn't get any crazier the Los Angeles Times (of all news outlets) has dropped a bombshell. Baxter Holmes from the LA Times (who appears to have close connection with the Shabazz folks) has reported on an email from an attorney detailing a disturbing conversation concerning NCAA's investigation (HT mdpbruin09):
A conversation overheard on an Aug. 7 commuter flight from Chicago to Memphis, Tenn., has prompted attorneys representing UCLA basketball player Shabazz Muhammad to call for the NCAA to drop its investigation and declare him eligible.
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 attorney, who confirmed her story in a telephone interview with The Times on Wednesday, said in her email that she was concerned with the lack of confidentiality and "the cavalier discussion of this young man's future being tossed about for everyone to hear."
Well, that's certainly something. The attorney had more to say about the conversation implicating NCAA's "lead investigator" in an interview with the LA Times:
In a telephone interview, the attorney expanded on what she heard: "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.'
"I was more offended in the delight he seemed to take in something that was very serious and could ruin this man's life, which is the reason that this stuck with me."
The attorney said the man referred to his girlfriend by name, mentioned a connection she had to Kansas and said she was a former college athlete. Abigail Grantstein was a member of Ohio State's swimming and diving team and attended law school at Kansas, according to her biography on LinkedIn.com.
Well this certainly makes the NCAA look like bunch of stooges.
But keep something in mind. Baxter Holmes has basically been serving up the perspective from Team Shabazz last few days, who are on a PR warpath against the NCAA. While I have been pretty dubious about the tactics and specifically the statement releases by Shabazz's attorneys to date (especially the one from today), this latest twist certainly givens them something to stand on while firing against the NCAA.
It should be interesting to see how NCAA reacts to this. This should certainly turn up the pressure on them to resolve this issue asap and do it in a manner that assures integrity of the process. However, as of right now the process seems to be corrupted at least according to this report based on a source, who appears to be reputable. If that turns out to be the case, the pressure and burden will be on the NCAA to establish they hadn't prejudged Shabazz without hearing his side of the story. From what we are reading here it certainly doesn't look for the NCAA.