Reporting Tim Kephart
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The University of Miami has sent a blistering response to the NCAA asking for the case against the school to be dropped. UM is asking the NCAA to drop the case after repeated missteps by the collegiate governing body during the investigation of the school.
The case centers on claims made by convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro. The convict alleged that he paid players and recruits and broke a multitude of NCAA rules with both players and coaches at the University of Miami.
Shapiro’s actions were well-documented throughout the athletic department, but as long as his checks to the school kept clearing, nothing was overtly done to stop his access at the school.
Miami has self-imposed a two-year postseason ban and scholarship reductions for their role in the scandal. The admission of guilt didn’t stop the NCAA from alleging the school had a “lack of institutional control” during Shapiro’s time with the university.
But, the NCAA had a complete lack of institutional control as well throughout the investigation into Miami. ESPN’s Outside the Lines acquired a letter from UM’s outside counsel, Mike Glazier, that documented some of Miami’s issues with the case built by the NCAA’s investigators.
Among the issues the school cited in its motion, obtained by ESPN, to conclude the case were:
- Rewarding a convicted felon by vouching for his credibility before his federal sentencing judge, even though, at that point in time, no investigation had been undertaken to substantiate his outrageous claims.
- An immediate and unjust rush to judgment on the part of the NCAA as within days of the public disclosure of the investigation in 2011, a senior NCAA executive spoke out on the University of Miami and the “death penalty.” Such comments were reprinted or replayed approximately 500 times in the weeks following their release.
- Throughout the approximate 2 1/2-year investigation, the enforcement staff’s impermissible conduct, constant turnover, inexperienced investigators and overall mismanagement caused multiple unconscionable delays in a process which could have been concluded in much less time.
- As already acknowledged by the NCAA, the intentional use of impermissible investigative tactics by members of the enforcement staff, with the approval of NCAA executives, including the compensation of an outside attorney to solicit information from witnesses, incredibly violated clear and defined policies and is further evidence of an all-out approach to prove the most salacious allegations rather than discover what actually transpired at the University.
- The NCAA-sanctioned Caldwalder Report released in February is not only incomplete, but also incorrect in parts and the NCAA enforcement staff relied on the Report’s faulty conclusions in drafting the Notice of Allegations.
- The NCAA enforcement staff created the concept of “self-corroboration” as an appropriate evidentiary standard, as many of the allegations leveled against the University are based on the testimony of one man (a convicted felon) and were never supported by any other witness or documentation.
- Perhaps most distressing and unconscionable, on multiple occasions, members of the enforcement staff intentionally misled the University by withholding key information, failing to inform the University of scheduled interviews and, most egregiously, lying to the University and its outside counsel.
The letter also objected to the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions allowing one member, who wasn’t named, to have “exclusive authority to rule on all motions submitted by the University of Miami (and by other involved parties.)”
NCAA President Mark Emmert has come under fire for his handling of the Miami case and his handling of overall issues within the college game. Emmert has a history from his days as heads of several major schools of not handling investigations well.
According to USA Today, Emmert knew of problems with a major construction project while he was chancellor at the University of Connecticut, but didn’t disclose the problems to the board of trustees or the legislature. Emmert had left for LSU by the time the problems were made public.
The USA Today report also found that an alleged academic fraud investigation at LSU, while Emmert was leading the school, didn’t go deep enough into the issue. The report said a deposition given in 2004 found systematic problems worse than the school admitted.
In addition, while Emmert was a member of Montana State University’s senior management team, the school was found guilty of a lack of institutional control for problems with its men’s basketball team. Emmert was the provost and vice-president for academic affairs at MSU, but said he had no knowledge of the case, according to USA Today.
The NCAA admitted problems with the investigation during external reviews the governing body said it paid to have done on the UM case. The problems included improperly trying to access information via Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez.
Much of the issues surrounding the investigation dealt with former NCAA investigator Ameen Najjar. He was later fired for his actions in the case, but Najjar told Shapiro in an email that he thought the NCAA “simply want to get the case done, even if it is half or only one quarter done. I don’t know if it is simply to meet some arbitrary timeline or the upper levels are trying to save Miami. I suspect it’s the latter.”
The University of Miami case has drawn much of the scrutiny against the NCAA, but it’s hardly the only problem the NCAA has had to deal with in recent years. The NCAA drew harsh criticism for its penalties against Penn State, which deserved punishment, but pundits have questioned if the NCAA had the jurisdiction to hand down such steep penalties.
The NCAA is also fighting a case in court from former player Ed O’Bannon who is asking for the schools to be forced to give players some form of payment for their services.
Jason Lanter, a psychology professor at Kutztown University summed up Emmert this way to USA Today, “He is a product of that same system with which he is trusted with reforming.”
The Canes want its case dismissed and have the ammunition to either win the argument or take the case to court and take their chances in court. For the NCAA, if it goes forward with stiff sanctions for UM and the school challenges it in court, things could get ugly fast for the NCAA.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)