UM Investigation

Ex-NCAA employee vouched for Nevin Shapiro


A former NCAA director of enforcement reportedly wrote a letter to a judge on behalf of former Miami Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro.

The same association that used information obtained from convicted felon Nevin Shapiro’s bankruptcy deposition to originally assist it in the case against the University of Miami, reportedly wrote a letter to a judge on Shapiro’s behalf before his sentencing.

Former NCAA director of enforcement Ameen Najjar wrote a letter dated June 3, 2011, to U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton, saying that the NCAA — the governing body of college athletics — could have used Shapiro “in the future as a consultant and/or speaker to educate our membership,’’ The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The AP said it obtained a copy of Najjar’s letter, written on NCAA letterhead, that said, “Throughout the course of our interactions, it is my belief that Mr. Shapiro possesses a unique depth of knowledge and experience concerning representatives athletics interest [‘Boosters’], agents and the provision of extra benefits to student-athletes.’’

The Miami Herald’s review Wednesday of the federal court docket in Shapiro’s criminal case showed no letters filed before his sentencing in June 2011. Normally, letters written by supporters or critics of a defendant are filed in the court record.

The AP reported late Wednesday that the NCAA said it was aware of the letter written by Najjar, but that he would never have been a consultant.

Najjar did not respond to a voice message left Wednesday by The Miami Herald. Najjar was fired by the NCAA, though the NCAA has not revealed the reason. The NCAA initiated an investigation of its own “improper conduct,’’ according to NCAA president Mark Emmert, in late January.

Kenneth L. Wainstein, a partner with the law firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, conducted the review, and later revealed publicly that about 20 percent of the information in the UM case was tainted and would be thrown out.

The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions hearing for the UM case is scheduled for June 14-15 in Indianapolis.

Miami Herald staff writer Jay Weaver contributed to this report.

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