Wanted: NCAA Director of Enforcement — Quality control.
Maybe “lack of quality” and “out of control” might be more accurate ways to describe the January job posting and recent overall performance by the NCAA — as witnessed in the botched University of Miami case under review.
“The idea the NCAA didn’t know about that is laughable,” Jay Bilas, ESPN college basketball analyst, broadcaster and attorney said of NCAA president Mark Emmert’s announcement Jan.23 that the governing body of college sports had initiated an investigation of itself because it improperly obtained evidence via the attorney of former booster Nevin Shapiro — and paid her — during its investigation into UM’s football and basketball programs.
Said Bilas: “When Emmert said the general counsel didn’t know and [warned] them twice not to do it … if that was UM that said, ‘We told our underlings not to do it and they did it anyway,’ they would be pilloried by the Committee on Infractions — and Emmert would call them cheaters and say it was lack of institutional control.
“It is absurd.”
While Miami and the nation await outside counsel Ken Wainstein’s findings as to how it happened that NCAA investigators hired Shapiro’s lawyer, Maria Elena Perez, to depose individuals and query them in Shapiro’s bankruptcy case, critics keep chipping away at the NCAA’s already questionable reputation.
Gene Marsh, a lawyer based in Birmingham, Ala., who served as chair of the Committee on Infractions from 2004 to 2006, said sometimes NCAA investigators aren’t equipped to undertake such complex investigations.
“They are not prepared to deal with the kinds of decisions and to spot the ethical issues and conflict issues that a lawyer at a fairly high level would spot,” Marsh told CBSSports.com. “I know there are people in enforcement who just don’t have the experience to do it.”
Some, such as Bilas, have suggested outsourcing the NCAA enforcement process.
“This is a huge fiasco,” Bilas told Dan Le Batard, a Miami Herald columnist and 790 The Ticket radio host. “This goes to what I’ve been saying for a decade, that the NCAA should not be in this business. They should not be in the enforcement business where they’re rules maker, investigator, judge, jury and executioner.
“The U.S. Olympic Committee and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency both use the American Arbitration Association to administer and resolve their disputes. That’s what the NCAA should do.”
Others, such as NCAA expert John Infante, who writes a popular blog on NCAA Bylaws (Bylawblog.com) and worked in compliance for Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles and Colorado State, believe that “the only way to have the process be truly independent and do something fundamentally different from what the NCAA does now, is to have the federal government step in as, basically, new regulators.
“I guess if you look at other options, such as having an independent law firm do the enforcement, they’re not really independent because somebody has to pay for that and it’s going to be the NCAA, and the guys who control the purse strings will control what kind of investigation gets done.”