UCLA files appeal over eligibility

LOS ANGELES -- UCLA filed an appeal with the NCAA on Wednesday on behalf of freshman Shabazz Muhammad, coach Ben Howland said. The appeal will be heard Friday and Howland said he expects to hear a decision "shortly thereafter."

"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 competition by the NCAA, which investigated and determined that he had received improper benefits in the form of lodging and travel expenses for unofficial visits during the recruiting period.

Asked if he was frustrated with the process, Howland said, "I'm not going to comment on that. We're very hopeful and remaining very positive about Shabazz. We've been very cooperative with the NCAA, as has the family. Shabazz and his family have been unbelievably cooperative. They've given them everything they've asked for. Hopefully it will be resolved in the near future."

UCLA had the option to request reinstatement or appeal. If the appeal is successful, Muhammad would likely be reinstated immediately. If the appeal is rejected, UCLA would then have to request reinstatement. If the NCAA then reinstates Muhammad, it would almost certainly require a punishment in the form of a suspension and ask Muhammad and his family to repay the benefits he received.

No. 13 UCLA (2-0) has played its first two games without Muhammad, after the NCAA declared him ineligible three hours before the Bruins season opener last Friday. They hope to have Muhammad, No. 2 in the ESPNU class of 2012 high school rankings last year, available next week when they play on national television in the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

UCLA, which barely escaped in overtime against UC Irvine on Tuesday without Muhammad, will face Georgetown on Monday in New York and then either No. 1 Indiana or Georgia on Tuesday.

ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil contributed to this report.