MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The battle lines between the NCAA and the University of Miami were fortified Monday night when the school said it would accept no more punishment from the NCAA for the Nevin Shapiro violations.
“This process must come to a swift resolution, which includes no additional punitive measures beyond those already self-imposed,” UM President Donna Shalala wrote in a statement Monday evening.
Shalala’s statement came on the same day the NCAA admitted to mistakes in the investigation into the University of Miami’s relationship with disgraced former booster Nevin Shapiro. The NCAA revealed the scale of wrongdoing in its investigation, but said the UM investigation “is going to go forward,” according to NCAA President Mark Emmert.
The entire sordid story started in 2010 when Shapiro, a convicted Ponzi schemer, alleged in a Yahoo! Sports story the he lavished impermissible benefits on Hurricanes football players for years. The alleged benefits included cash, yacht trips, lavish dinners at expensive restaurants, and trips to strip clubs.
Once the NCAA began its investigation shortly thereafter, the collegiate governing body’s investigation quickly started to go off the rails.
The NCAA admitted it paid Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez, more than $19,000 for work she performed for the organization. Perez allegedly came to the NCAA with a plan to use her subpoena power in the bankruptcy investigation to give information to the NCAA for a fee.
When the NCAA learned of Perez’s offer of cooperation with the investigation, members of the NCAA’s legal team urged the enforcement department not to proceed, though they apparently were ignored.
As a result, the NCAA can now no longer utilize the interviews with former equipment room staffer Sean Allen and former Shapiro business partner Michael Huyghue. In addition, any information gained through those interviews has also been thrown out of the case.
The NCAA’s investigator allegedly went so far as to buy a prepaid cell phone during the investigation and the collegiate governing body allegedly transferred $4,500 to Shapiro’s prison commissary account to fund communications with the convict.
The NCAA said the investigation into the University of Miami has been the subject of three internal and external reviews. Due to those reviews, roughly 20 percent of the case against the University of Miami has been dismissed as being tainted by NCAA wrongdoing during the investigation.
The outside law firm that reviewed the evidence in the case, some 4,300 documents and multiple interviews, released its report Monday said the current assertions in the case are not based on evidence that was improperly collected.
The NCAA’s investigation is headed to the Committee on Infractions, which must decide what action to take moving forward with the university. The COI was reportedly prepared to send out a notice of allegations against the school and related coaches just before the NCAA admitted the wrongdoing in the investigation last month.
Against that backdrop, Shalala took aim at the investigation Monday evening and laid the foundation for any potential action the school could take in the future.
“The lengthy and already flawed investigation has demonstrated a disappointing pattern of unprofessional and unethical behavior,” Shalala wrote. “By the NCAA leadership’s own admission, the University of Miami has suffered from inappropriate practices by NCAA staff.”
The Committee on Infractions could possibly work towards a settlement with the school, based on statements Emmert gave during a conference call on Monday. The school will most likely choose to appear before the committee to make its case against the alleged violations.
However, based on Miami’s statement and self-imposed penalties; it will be tough to argue against the remaining facts. If UM chooses to go to a COI hearing, the most likely time period for the hearing will be in May/June.
After the COI hearing, the COI would draw up a final report on the school’s violations and issue it, along with any sanctions the committee chooses to enforce against UM. From there, the school could accept the COI’s findings and the case is closed, or go to the Committee on Infractions’ appeals committee, which is separate from the COI.
Once an appeal is heard by the NCAA appeals committee and ruled on, the case is closed, at least from the NCAA’s perspective.
If UM does indeed go through the entire COI process, the most likely timeline for any possible sanctions being received by the school would be roughly late-August/early-September, right around the beginning of the football season.
The school self-imposed penalties including a two-year postseason ban for the football team, a reduction in football scholarships, and declaring numerous players ineligible after they were found to be involved in NCAA rules violations.