MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The NCAA may have identified the source who approved of the payment to the lawyer of Nevin Shapiro that sparked the collegiate organization to open an investigation on its own enforcement actions.
According to CBSSports.com, Julie Roe Lach, a vice-president of enforcement, approved a five-figure payout to Nevin Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez. The payment, according to CBSSports, was at least $20,000 and made in 2011.
The decision to retain Perez gave the NCAA access to information they could have not otherwise have received, according to the NCAA. The collegiate governing body revealed an external investigation into what it called “improper conduct” with regard to the UM investigation of ties to Shapiro.
According to CBSSports.com, Roe Lach approved of a “budget line” for Perez that would pay for “legal fees and expenses.” One source told CBSSports.com that Roe Lach’s strategy for using Perez was to “crack this case wide open.”
Ironically, the move could end up crippling any major enforcement action against UM and at the very least give Miami plenty of ammunition for a possible appeal of the findings.
Previous reports from ESPN.com stated that NCAA general counsel Donald Remy and Roe Lach both approved of using Perez. NCAA president Mark Emmert said Remy would have had to approve such action, but added that the issue surrounding Perez never reached Remy’s desk.
All of the failures of the NCAA in the Miami investigation have caused the school to suffer both in national recognition and in recruiting. The Canes have been hampered in recruiting because the NCAA could drop the hammer on the program at any time and that has caused some recruits to shy away.
The external investigation into the NCAA’s actions was supposed to take anywhere from 10-14 days and immediately upon the completion of it, the NCAA was planning to release the notice of allegations against coaches and the school’s involved in the Shapiro scandal.
NCAA President Emmert said the notice of allegations would still move forward, but any evidence gathered against UM through improper methods would be thrown out. Emmert said there it’s his understanding there’s still plenty of evidence against UM even without the material set to be thrown out.
The new report from CBSSports.com is not the first time Roe Lach’s name has been in the news. In 2011, she was involved with a very public discussion/disagreement with then-Auburn head coach Gene Chizik as the NCAA was investigating the school.
Chizik said in a public meeting that the NCAA investigation into Auburn had hurt Auburn’s recruiting and he followed up with three more questions, according to a New York Times report from the time. Roe Lach finally told Chizik, “You’ll know when we’re finished. And we’re not finished,” according to the Times.
The Miami Herald reported in late January that the Florida Bar opened an investigation into Perez over a possible conflict of interest. Perez has denied any wrongdoing with the NCAA’s investigation.