UM/NCAA INVESTIGATION

Miami Hurricanes receive notice of allegations from NCAA

 

Donna Shalala gives response to Notice of Allegations, says many charges are ‘based on the word of a man who made a fortune by lying.’

sdegnan@MiamiHerald.com

The investigation is over.

The NCAA delivered its Notice of Allegations to the University of Miami on Tuesday, nearly two years after NCAA president Mark Emmert said the governing body of college athletics launched its inquiry into alleged improprieties by athletes, coaches and staff members.

A source told The Miami Herald that UM has been accused of a “lack of institutional control” violation, which could lead to the death penalty, but is not expected to happen.

“A lack of institutional control,” according to the NCAA, “is found when the Committee on Infractions determines that major violations occurred and the institution failed to display adequate compliance measures, appropriate education on those measures, sufficient monitoring to ensure the compliance measures are followed and swift action upon learning of a violation.”

UM President Donna Shalala took issue with the NCAA’s investigation, alleging that the NCAA believed some of former booster Nevin Shapiro’s claims without corroboration from anyone else.

While the university chose not to release a copy of the allegations because it is a private school and has the right to withhold the information, Shalala, who was courtside in the BankUnited Center on Tuesday night for a UM basketball game, released the following statement from the game:

“The University of Miami deeply regrets and takes full responsibility for those NCAA violations that are based on fact and are corroborated by multiple individuals and/or documentation. We have already self-imposed a bowl ban for an unprecedented two-year period, forfeited the opportunity to participate in an ACC championship game, and withheld student-athletes from competition.

“Over the two and a half years since the University of Miami first contacted the NCAA enforcement staff about allegations of rules violations, the NCAA interviewed dozens of witnesses, including current and former Miami employees and student-athletes, and received thousands of requested documents and emails from the University.

“Yet despite our efforts to aid the investigation, the NCAA acknowledged on February 18, 2013 that it violated its own policies and procedures in an attempt to validate the allegations made by a convicted felon. Many of the allegations included in the Notice of Allegations remain unsubstantiated.

“Now that the Notice of Allegations has been issued, let me provide some context to the investigation itself:

• “Many of the charges brought forth are based on the word of a man who made a fortune by lying. The NCAA enforcement staff acknowledged to the University that if Nevin Shapiro, a convicted con man, said something more than once, it considered the allegation “corroborated” — an argument which is both ludicrous and counter to legal practice.

• “Most of the sensationalized media accounts of Shapiro’s claims are found nowhere in the Notice of Allegations. Despite their efforts over two and a half years, the NCAA enforcement staff could not find evidence of prostitution, expensive cars for players, expensive dinners paid for by boosters, player bounty payments, rampant alcohol and drug use, or the alleged hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts given to student-athletes, as reported in the media. The fabricated story played well — the facts did not.

• “The NCAA enforcement staff failed, even after repeated requests, to interview many essential witnesses of great integrity who could have provided first-hand testimony, including, unbelievably, Paul Dee, who has since passed away, but who served as Miami Athletic Director during many of the years that violations were alleged to have occurred. How could a supposedly thorough and fair investigation not even include the Director of Athletics?

• “Finally, we believe the NCAA was responsible for damaging leaks of unsubstantiated allegations over the course of the investigation.

“Let me be clear again: for any rule violation — substantiated and proven with facts — that the University, its employees, or student-athletes committed, we have been and should be held accountable. We have worked hard to improve our compliance oversight, and we have already self-imposed harsh sanctions.

“We deeply regret any violations, but we have suffered enough.

“The University and counsel will work diligently to prepare our official response to the Notice of Allegations and submit it to the Committee on Infractions within the required 90-day time period.

“We trust that the Committee on Infractions will provide the fairness and integrity missing during the investigative process.”

One source familiar with the NCAA’s initial draft of UM’s Notice of Allegations — reviewed before the NCAA amended the allegations for the final version — said the charges “could have been worse but they’re still pretty bad.

“It’s more than a slap on the wrist. It will be upsetting. But there’s nothing shocking in there.”

A UM official said the NCAA “has given Shapiro far too much credence and run with a lot of what he said.”

According to an NCAA source, UM has asked the NCAA for permission to appear before the Committee on Infractions during a scheduled committee meeting on Saturday. The NCAA has expressed reluctance to allow UM on the calendar on such short notice.

UM wanted to meet with the committee this soon to deal with preliminary issues and try to expedite the process.

The NCAA’s investigation stemmed from former booster and now imprisoned Ponzi-schemer Nevin Shapiro’s accusations of rampant violations first documented in depth in a Yahoo! Sports report in August 2011.

Shapiro, serving a 20-year prison sentence, said that among the impermissible benefits he provided were cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to expensive restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play and travel to athletes.

Shapiro gave the NCAA a list of 114 UM athletes, most of them former football players, and the NCAA tried to interview everyone possible. At one point the NCAA sent ultimatums in letters to the athletes and/or their attorneys, urging them to talk about “their knowledge of or involvement in possible NCAA violations concerning [UM]” or “the staff will consider the non-response” as an “admission of involvement in NCAA violations.”

Now, more waiting.

The next phase of the process normally involves the university, as well as the individuals alleged to have committed penalties, submitting written responses to the allegations. Individuals respond only to their specific alleged wrongdoings.

The NCAA allows 90 days for the responses, though extensions are sometimes granted.

After that, a hearing is set with the Committee on Infractions. Then, between six and eight weeks (but sometimes more) after the hearing, according to the NCAA, the report with penalties is released.

All penalties and findings can be appealed, which would further stretch the process.

The NCAA used multiple people to try to corroborate Shapiro’s claims, including several former UM players who were compelled to speak to the NCAA and others that were not.

Also corroborating some of the allegations were some people who were granted immunity — players who were recruited by UM but did not attend UM, and players who transferred from UM.

Shapiro gave the NCAA four boxes of evidence, including credit card receipts and bank statements.

UM would theoretically have its formal meeting with the 18-member infractions committee in June. After a full, usually day-long hearing in front of the infractions committee, UM would expect to receive its punishment within two to four months.

One UM source believed UM would likely appeal penalties that extend beyond a slap on the wrist, such as another postseason bowl ban.

The list of UM coaches alleged by Shapiro, or since reported, as involved in infractions include former basketball head coach Frank Haith, now the coach at Missouri, and his former assistants Jorge Fernandez, Jake Morton (now at Western Kentucky) and Michael Schwartz (Fresno State); former football assistants Clint Hurtt (Louisville), Joe Pannunzio (Alabama), Jeff Stoutland (formerly Alabama but now with the Philadelphia Eagles), Aubrey Hill (most recently at Florida) — and even, as alleged in a July 2012 Yahoo! Sports story, Micheal Barrow (Miami) and current coach Al Golden, who has adamantly defended his integrity and record.

A source told The Miami Herald early Wednesday that Haith received his notice of allegations, and it did not include an unethical conduct charge.

The NCAA has thrown out about 20 percent of the information from the investigation, it announced Monday, that was gained improperly. That could definitely affect the case for those being investigated.

Read more Top Sports Stories stories from the Miami Herald

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