NCAA Throws Out 20% Of UM Investigation
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The NCAA has announced that 20 percent of the case against the University of Miami has been excluded from the investigation after the collegiate governing body had outside counsel review the enforcement staff’s investigation.
According to the law firm that conducted the review, “As a result of the lines drawn, 13 interviews were extracted, then another 12 interviews were stricken from the record. Twenty percent of information and assertions that had been a part of the investigative process was taken out.”
The NCAA said the staff, “acted contrary to internal protocols, legal counsel, and the membership’s understanding about the limits of its investigative powers in the University of Miami case.”
“With the completion of the external enforcement review, we recognize that certain investigative tactics used in portions of the University of Miami case failed our membership,” said NCAA president Mark Emmert.
The review consisted of 22 interviews over the course of 17 meetings that included all relevant NCAA staff including the President. It also consisted of third party interviews of people outside the NCAA including former investigators, Shapiro, his attorney, Maria Elena Perez, and others.
The external review found that some staff members:
- Knowingly circumvented legal advice to engage Nevin Shapiro’s criminal defense attorney.
- Violated the internal NCAA policy of legal counsel only being retained and monitored by the legal staff.
- Paid insufficient attention to the concern that engaging the criminal defense attorney could constitute an inappropriate manipulation of the bankruptcy process.
- Did not sufficiently consider the membership’s understanding about the limits of the enforcement staff’s investigative powers.
- Did not violate a specific bylaw or law.
- Additionally, the report found:
- Enforcement leadership exercised insufficient oversight of the engagement of the criminal defense attorney.
- The legal and enforcement staffs took appropriate action to rectify the situation once they realized select enforcement staff members had engaged the criminal defense attorney.
Yahoo! Sports, who broke the original story against UM, reported the NCAA has fired its vice-president of enforcement, Julie Roe Lach.
The external review, the third into the investigation of UM, was started after the NCAA admitted it had gathered information for the case against the University of Miami through improper methods. The information gathered improperly came through help from Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez.
The report found that UM knew about and raised concerns about the proposal to use Shapiro’s bankruptcy depositions in October 2011.
Roe Lach allegedly approved reimbursements for Perez, who conducted bankruptcy depositions of two parties related to the NCAA’s investigation into the University of Miami. The NCAA put Perez under retainer during the investigation, which played a role in the collegiate governing body’s decision to have an external review completed.
However, according to a conference call by the NCAA, had the charges been for less than $15,000, invoices might have been paid without anything coming to light.
Perez has denied any wrongdoing with the NCAA or its investigation. But, both of the depositions and any interviews and evidence collected in connection with the interviews of two witnesses in the case have been tossed out.
UM has been under investigation for more than two years; yet Emmert admitted Monday there is still no timetable for the case to come to a resolution through a notice of allegations.
The notice of allegations would have moved the case closer to completion, but was delayed indefinitely while the external review was completed. UM has self-imposed a two-year bowl ban and cut down on football scholarships in preparation for the potential allegations.
Asked whether the results of the external investigation could harm, or take teeth out of future investigations, Emmert said no.
“This is a single situation that came to our attention we are trying to do the opposite of take teeth out,” Emmert said. “Everything we do is conducted in a fashion that is consistent with our values. I wouldn’t consider this a case of corruption. It shouldn’t and we have to make sure in the long term that it doesn’t diminish the ability of the NCAA to govern itself.”
While the information obtained through the process involving Perez has been removed, it still leaves approximately 80 percent of the case intact. The NCAA said because of this, the investigation has been sent to the Committee on Infractions.
“It will be up to the Committee on Infractions,” Emmert said when asked about the next steps. “It will be up to them to determine the validity of the arguments put in front of them.”
Emmert was asked specifically whether there had been any settlement discussions between the NCAA and UM. Emmert said the case was headed to the COI, but left the door partially open to the possibility of a settlement.
“This is going to go forward to the Committee on Infractions like all of our actions,” Emmert said. “The committee has some latitude on how it handles its case. But it’s complicated because there are other people involved. It will be up to the Committee to make any judgments.”
Emmert said as of now, there is zero evidence to indicate the staffers that committed wrongdoing in this case have ever compromised another investigation.
“We don’t have any evidence or indication or that, but if we should bump into that we will deal with it that way,” Emmert said. “This was an approach that no one had heard of before. If we find something that was inappropriate; we will deal with it.”
The only question left unanswered with regards to the NCAA’s investigation into the University of Miami is will President Emmert suffer any repercussions. CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd didn’t waste time Monday, saying Emmert “Must pay with his job.”
“The actions we are taking are clearly consistent with holding people accountable for their actions,” Emmert said Monday. “If the executive committee believes some disciplinary action needs to be taken against me I’m sure they will.”
Late Monday, University of Miami President Donna Shalala released this statement in response:
“The University takes full responsibility for the conduct of its employees and student-athletes. Where the evidence of NCAA violations has been substantiated, we have self-imposed appropriate sanctions, including unilaterally eliminating once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for our students and coaches over the past two years, and disciplining and withholding players from competition.
“We believe strongly in the principles and values of fairness and due process. However, we have been wronged in this investigation, and we believe that this process must come to a swift resolution, which includes no additional punitive measures beyond those already self-imposed.
“In September 2010—two and a half years ago—the University of Miami advised the NCAA of allegations made by a convicted felon against former players and, at that time, we pledged our full cooperation with any investigation into the matter. One year later, in August 2011, when the NCAA’s investigation into alleged rules violations was made public, I pledged we would ‘vigorously pursue the truth, wherever that path may lead’ and insisted upon ‘complete, honest, and transparent cooperation with the NCAA from our staff and students.’
“The University of Miami has lived up to those promises, but sadly the NCAA has not lived up to their own core principles. The lengthy and already flawed investigation has demonstrated a disappointing pattern of unprofessional and unethical behavior. By the NCAA leadership’s own admission, the University of Miami has suffered from inappropriate practices by NCAA staff. There have also been damaging leaks to the media of unproven charges. Regardless of where blame lies internally with the NCAA, even one individual, one act, one instance of malfeasance both taints the entire process and breaches the public’s trust.
“There must be a strong sense of urgency to bring this to closure. Our dedicated staff and coaches, our outstanding student-athletes, and our supporters deserve nothing less.”