After failed drug test, Matt Shaw gone from UNLV men’s basketball program

6-foot-8 forward - UNLV’s fourth-leading scorer last season - will finish out his undergraduate degree this summer


Justin M. Bowen

Former UNLV forward Matt Shaw averaged 7 points and 2.8 rebounds as a junior in the 2009-10 season, but had his Rebels career cut short by a year after failing an NCAA-administered drug test at the 2010 NCAA tournament. Having endured a tough year, Shaw is still pursuing a basketball career overseas and has come to terms with the way his time in Las Vegas ended.

Updated Tuesday, April 27, 2010 | 3:45 p.m.

The changes this offseason on the UNLV men's basketball roster won't be limited to players coming into the program.

Forward Matt Shaw, who was set to enter his senior season and fifth year as a member of the UNLV program, will not be back after failing a drug test for marijuana at the NCAA tournament in March.

Shaw was the team's fourth-leading scorer last season, averaging 7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-8 Los Angeles native shot a team-best 45 percent (27-of-60) from 3-point range.

In 86 career games, Shaw has shot 41.2 percent from the floor and 41.3 percent from long distance, averaging 5.6 points and 2.8 rebounds a contest.

Shaw, who redshirted during the 2008-09 season while recovering from ACL surgery, will graduate after completing his undergraduate degree this summer at UNLV. The failed test carries with it a one-year suspension from the NCAA, and since his redshirt year was already used, Shaw's eligibility will have expired by this time next year.

“I tested positive for a NCAA banned substance and it will cost me my senior season,” Shaw said in a statement released by the UNLV athletic department. “I made a poor decision, but I take responsibility for it. I apologize to my teammates, my coaches and the fans. I am proud of the fact that I will earn my degree and am also proud of what we accomplished during my four seasons as part of the Runnin’ Rebel program. I hope the fans will remember me for what I tried to give to this program and accept my apology.”

Added coach Lon Kruger in said statement: "“We are really disappointed for Matt. He was going to be an integral part of our team next season. His teammates are disappointed as well, but they also understand that he has to take responsibility for his actions.”

Shaw missed the final four games of the regular season after suffering a sprained ankle during pregame warmups before a Feb. 26 loss at Utah, and concluded his UNLV career with a team-high 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting to go with four rebounds in a 69-66 loss to Northern Iowa in the first round of the NCAA tourney.

Shaw was the last remaining piece on the roster from UNLV's 2007 squad that made the program's first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 1991.

With incoming freshman Henry Buckley tied to one of UNLV's two open scholarships heading into this week, pending his academic qualification, the coaching staff filled its other spot Monday by taking on 6-foot-8 UCLA transfer Mike Moser.

With Shaw gone, the Rebels have one more spot to fill, and their top target is presumably Bishop Gorman senior point guard Johnathan Loyd, who they offered the scholarship to Sunday night.

For more on this story as it develops, stay tuned to

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  1. no wonder he has put on the LBs lately... all jokes aside, bad deal. Shaw was a huge momentum changer for the good guys... sucks he has to go.

  2. Bummer. I hope it was worth it, Matt.

  3. Matt Shaw is a young adult, he should have made a better judgedment on the risk versus reward of marijuana use and his scholarship.

    That being said why would you not give this young adult a second chance?

    Are there more facts that you have not told us yet Ryan that make this a serious infraction of rules?

  4. it was only a matter of time

  5. Why is it in this day and age these athletes think they can get away with stuff like this? Simply is amazing that they flush these opportunities...or watch them go up in smoke.

  6. J-Roc,

    I agree. it sure seems like this wasn't the first time. Marcus Lawrence seemed to have way more chances and the final straw was a more serious event in his case.

  7. That's unfortunate...anybody test the USC Hoops team this year? Oh yeah, that's right....they didn't make the tourney.

    Don't get me started on the USC Football team and half the sh!t they get away with.....

  8. Ho hum! "Shoot the hoop and make the loot", is the primary focus. Wondering if they're getting an education at UNLV. Would love to see the major and minor subjects and the grades.

  9. J-Roc - This is why

    "Under NCAA guidelines, Shaw must sit out a year because of the failed test. Since he already used up his redshirt year during the 2008-09 campaign following knee surgery, Shaw's career with the Runnin' Rebels is over." LVRJ

  10. Really sad.

    And so inexplicable in the sense that Shaw had been there before!

    He had traveled to the ncaa tournament on 2 prior occasions. How did he not anticipate this?

    They do give guys a second chance, but not if you're a senior and you've used your red shirt year.

    Hope his stupidity serves as a lesson for the younger guys on the team.

  11. Makes room for yet another transfer?

  12. JerryWayne

    Thanks for the insight. I was unaware that was an NCAA rule.

  13. ""failing a drug test for marijuana at the NCAA tournament in March".

    "I tested positive for a NCAA banned substance and it will cost me my senior season," Shaw said in a statement released by the UNLV athletic department. "I made a poor decision, but I take responsibility for it. I apologize to my teammates, my coaches and the fans. I am proud of the fact that I will earn my degree and am also proud of what we accomplished during my four seasons as part of the Runnin' Rebel program. I hope the fans will remember me for what I tried to give to this program and accept my apology."

    Matt doesn't owe anyone an apology -- quite the opposite.

    Hang-in there rebel, you did no wrong.

    : {

  14. @logic ... No ... Makes room for (potentially) John Loyd. The Rebels had two open spots for this class, one is for Buckley (pending academic qualification), the other went to Moser yesterday. Now there's simply a third ... but if Loyd falls through, who knows.

  15. Every year is an NIT year in your eyes, kid. Get some new material....

    Keep your head up Matt!

  16. It's ridiculous that pot is illegal to begin with. It doesn't agree with me so I won't go near it. It looks like society is slowly changing it's view and I think that is good.

    Having said that, this was really a dumb mistake by a seemingly, otherwise great guy. I thought up to this point, Matt has been a great representative of the UNLV program and I feel badly for him. Unfortunately, he has no further to look than the mirror, if he is looking for someone to blame.

    My view of him will not change. Thanks for the fond memories Matt. Grow (no pun intended) from this and move forward.

  17. Bad decision, not a bad kid. Glad to see he is going to finish out his education.

    Maybe re-opens the door for Polee since there will be some PT available now? Would rather have Loyd tho and from what I have read he wants to be a Rebel so sign the LOI. Could be a positive from a negative.

  18. Well I am disappointed to see Matt go out like this. The team missed him during his medical red-shirt season and during his injury last year. Beyond basketball though, I hope this doesn't hurt him after school when he is looking for a job. Any google search by a company and this will probably be the first thing they see. But he can probably turn this into a strength if he is able to spin it the right way.

  19. No one said it was pot. Just as likely if not more so would be a performance enhancing substance. Some over the counter herbal supplements could cause a positive result on a drug test. Who knows?...........

  20. Real shame for Matt and the Runnin Rebels. He made a mistake, he is owning it, and paying the price. I think he is paying a HEAVY price. I wish him nothing but the best.

  21. Say goodby Matt.
    What about his scholarship? I hope he looses that too.

  22. logic-

    "Matt Shaw will not be back for his senior season at UNLV after the popular 6-foot-8, 240-pound center failed an NCAA administered drug test for marijuana at the NCAA Tournament, RebelNation.Net has learned." LVRJ

  23. Shaw is stupid and got caught.

    I wonder if his degree will be as a Valet parking attendant

  24. It doesn't take a month to get test results back. It looks like the NCAA sat on this one for a week or two maybe hoping we would miss out on any possible recruits for the '10-'11 class.

  25. We are all accountable for our own actions.

  26. Wow! We'll miss Shaw's pick and pop 3s for sure. Yes, many people smoke but what a shame he couldn't hold out for another year before he had to get his 420 on. I'm sure he'll learn a big lesson from this. It just frees up more minutes to QT and Carlos.

  27. Maybe the NCAA wasn't sitting on the results...I've been hearing this rumor for a little while now.

  28. Really sucks. He was one of my favorites on the team the last four years. No particular reason, just liked his attitude and his game.

    Always thought he had potential as a player but never lived up to it fully.

    Good news is it sounds like he's getting his degree and has the chance to move on with his life. Hopefully he makes the most of it.

  29. Logic_should_rule_should_read_the_articles_prior_to_commenting

  30. Sorry for the young man but after such a disappointing season I'm sure he needed to escape, UNLV basketball and the conference and NCAA tourney are a pressure cooker and all those 55-50 and 65-61 nailbiter rebel games they play I am sure really raise these kids stress levels, a few blowout wins by the rebels on the court during last season would have probably helped him, winning big games big is really a "natural high".......

  31. OK, he smoked some weed. Does that warrant a suspension for the entire season by the NCAA?

    Of course drunk driving, beating up a GF, credit card fraud -- those warrant just a few games suspension in most programs.

    He made a poor choice. He should be punished. But the entire season? Come on now.

  32. that is a shame we could have used him.

  33. First of all, it is ridiculous that marijuana is illegal to begin with, but i'll skip that spiel. It amazes me how the NCAA thinks of itself as a moral institution that doles out year suspensions for smoking weed, while at the same time DUIs get much smaller punishments.

    Matt, if youre reading this, you made a mistake(not following rules), but you didn't do anything wrong. I sincerely enjoyed your career here and wish you the best of luck in the future.

  34. I respect Shaw for owning up to his actions. For a big he was an awful defender and rebounder but could extend the defense with his outside shot. It does give us an open spot to fill so hopefully we can make it count.

  35. I doubt he is the only one on the team doing this, or any other team for that matter. Hopefully the rest of the team picks up on this and rethink thier actions

  36. this makes me sad..

  37. That's way too harsh of a punishment for smoking a little weed. People do far worse things in the NCAA and still aren't banned for a year. This is complete BS.

  38. I agree with Jimmy Hoofa- smoking weed should not result in a year suspension. Yet beating up kids at frat parties, smacking your girlfriend around gets you NO penalties from the NCAA. IT's up to the school. What a joke.

  39. Why is everyone taking this as an opportunity to bring up the "Marijuana should be legal" debate. That is not the issue here. Regardless of any of our personal feelings regarding the Marijuana issue, the facts are the facts. NCAA rules prohibit the use of Marijuana by any players and the penalty for a failed drug test is a 1-year suspension. While I agree that it seems a bit harsh, especially given the increasingly liberal attitude about Marijuana in this country. The punishment doesn't necessarily fit the crime, but it isn't as if the NCAA just put this rule into effect.
    What saddens me is that Matt should have know this was coming and put his smoking on hold for a bit before the tournament. He had been there twice and I'm sure was tested before each one. It doesn't matter what other famous people or politicians are pot-heads. It doesn't matter if most of us think Marijuana should be legal (if only for the potential to tax it). What matters is that there was a rule and punishment in place and, unfortunately, Matt broke the rule.
    This doesn't make Matt a bad guy; he just made a mistake. I'm glad to see he will finish his degree and have the opportunity to be successful in life.

  40. for THC to remain in your urine you have to be a regular user. if he only smoked once, it would have to have been a day or two before the trip to the NCAA. I have a feeling this wasn't a singular event. he's just been lucky until this point.

    MikeLange - I think the RJ said that the tests are random. you'd think they probably get 1 or 2 kids from each program.

    kckool11 - what are you talking about? He didn't fail the test after coming back from the Big Dance.

  41. Mike- I agree with your premise- and I am not trying to defend Shaw- he should have known better. Just the NCAA penalty is ridiculous. Suspend him for 3-5 games for a first offense. That would be reasonable- of course when has ANYTHING the NCAA done in regards to penalties ever been reasonable........

  42. I agree that the NCAA's penalty in this case is completely unreasonable, especially if this is only his first offense. And like you said rose, when has the NCAA ever done anything that was reasonable? I teach Health and have always been firmly against smoking Marijuana and think it is ridiculous when people say it is "not a big deal," but I'm even at the point that I thing it needs to be legalized. Legalization would lead to better regulated Marijuana (meaning less likely to be laced with something else) and the ability to tax it (more money). I just find it ridiculous that we have California on the brink of fully legalizing marijuana, but we have a player suspended for a year for smoking it. At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, "All that just for weed!?!?" Still think the penalty was unreasonable, but the onus is still on Matt because the rule is there, he knew it and now he's paying the price.

  43. Rose - Just went over the RJ article and you're right, the drug tests at the NCAA Tournament are random. Still not a risk I'm taking at this point in my college career if I'm Matt.

  44. what part of "illegal" are folks having a problem with?

    whoops, i thought i was posting to an immigration column since, obviously, "illegal" does not apply to college sports.

    my bad.

  45. Although I do not agree with this ruling, the rules were written previously, and Matt knew them. Kruger runs a tight ship, and it's just as if you get drug tested at work, you can lose your job. Thats exactly what happened here.

    Keep your head up matt, I hope everything works out for you and you get your degree after the summer. Good luck.

  46. Too bad matt. Was fun to watch but I don't think this is going to hurt us. He never played d, rebounded, or gave us a presence in the paint. His threes were nice but we need post players. We've got plenty of capable guards to shoot.

  47. 1yr suspension from the NCAA? That's crazy.

  48. I must agree that the NCAA's policy on smoking pot is absurd. How can Florida's Carlos Dunlap be suspended for 1 game because of a DUI and then play in the sugar bowl a few weeks later and yet Shaw has to be suspended for a year because he smoked weed... come on.

    The punishment doesn't fit the crime in this instance. There is an overwhelming movement toward the acceptance of using marijuana in the country. The NCAA needs to get with the program and bring its drug policy up to date with the nation's attitudes toward marijuana.

    Obviously, Matt made a bad decision and must suffer the consequences but it doesn't change the fact that the NCAA should change its priorities in terms of what it deems to be very serious bad behavior warranting a year suspension (pot use) and not that serious bad behavior (DUI) that results in a slap on the wrist.

  49. It should be legal but it isn't so do it if you've chosen to have a responsibility to an organization. No f*****g self control!


  51. No shortage of hate, no shortage of judgment, no shortage of uninformed, spoon-fed propaganda peddlers here. It's clear that all these posts are from people who have never fallen down. Yes it was dumb, it was a wasted opportunity, MS will be replaced and in time forgotten at UNLV and that is unfortunate, and yes it is his fault, but whichever one of you has never made a mistake, stand up! I want to shake your hand! I'm disappointed, but the world is round, and it keeps on turning. -People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.- ER.

  52. NV should work to legalize it anyway. Sure would be nice to have growth in tourism.

  53. westcen

    I didn't realize people saying things like "it's unfortunate but Matt made the decision and now has to face the consequences," was the same thing as, "I've never made a mistake or 'fallen down' and am so much better than Matt Shaw." I think the overwhelming sentiment on this board is that this whole situation sucks and while most of don't think the punishment necessarily fit the crime, Matt still broke an existing rule and is now being held responsible. I'll scroll back up and try to find the posting by Jesus that condemns Matt to Hell.

    And your post is telling us how we all think we're better than someone else? Isn't that ironic? Don't you think?

  54. A dirty program with marginal student athletes.
    Reblefever24 Get real.Like any top student athletes really consider the joke on Maryland Parkway. When will you REbs get it this school and its basketball U are a fraud.

  55. The NCAA is a joke. Its members make literally millions off of these athelete and pays them nothing for their work. Some of the coaches are making millions off the back of these players. Then the NCAA is brazen enough to suspend this player.

    Let the kid play out his senior year.

  56. Homer- you found your way out of Obama's butt long enough to make your normal assinine post??

  57. Good for the program- zero tolerance for drugs. Set a standard, make examples if necessary. The student-athletes are there to become men, not dictate. Rooney should have cut Big Ben too, Jimmy Johnson would have.

  58. MikeLange

    Thanks for the shout out, but you should have scrolled up before hiting "post"

    it was only a matter of time
    Why is it in this day and age these athletes think they can get away with...
    Simply is amazing that they flush these opportunities...
    Would love to see the major and minor subjects and the grades
    Hope his stupidity serves as a lesson for the younger guys on the team.
    What about his scholarship? I hope he looses that too.
    I wonder if his degree will be as a Valet parking attendant

    Not my words, the words of previous posts.
    I'm not into sanctimony, I'm just responding to what I read. None of these comments are productive. Jesus hasn't weighed in, but I think he would appreciate the spirit of owning one's decisions and trying to grow from them, instead of being crucified.

  59. Like others have said, the NCAA rule is incredibly draconian and nonsensical, particularly when juxtaposed against the fallout from alcohol abuse, but the code is what it is.

    I also give him props for taking responsibility for his lapse in judgment and wish him the best of luck in the future.

  60. Get ur Balze on Matt really take away a young mans senior season because he smoked weed really?
    Oh i forgot when i smoked a blunt yesterday i played like Kobe, Lebron, and D. Howard all in one hahahahaha when will people learn weed is legal in 15 states and is safer and better than asprin or alcohol wake up people.