A former NCAA investigator who ran the organizations troubled probe of alleged gift-giving to University of Miami athletes said he was fired last year because his bosses were unhappy with his lack of progress on the case.
The collegiate governing body has refused to say why it dismissed Ameen Najjar, who would later become the central figure in the NCAAs internal probe of its own mishandling of the UM case.
After that probe was completed in February, the NCAA issued its Notice of Allegations, accusing the university of lack of institutional control over convicted UM booster Nevin Shapiro, who claims he plied star football and basketball players with cash, parties and other impermissible gifts.
But in newly disclosed emails exchanged with Shapiro the key NCAA witness who is serving a 20-year sentence for directing a massive investment scam Najjar revealed why he thought he was fired and complained about the Hurricanes investigation.
I was fired today, Najjar, a lawyer and former police officer, wrote Shapiro via a federal prison email link on May 16, 2012.
Apparently because they did not like the way I was moving the Miami case along. The conditions I have been working under for the past year have been horrible and it has taken a toll on me and my family. I am sorry and do not know what this means for the investigation.
Najjar, who could not be reached for comment, continued to exchange emails with Shapiro in the months after his firing including calling the NCAAs 2012 deal with Penn State over sexual-abuse charges a travesty. The NCAA also could not be reached for comment.
The Najjar emails, filed Tuesday by Shapiros defense attorney as part of an effort to correct the record in his federal criminal case, suggest that the NCAA brass was growing impatient with the UM investigation. Attorney Maria Elena Perez has asked the federal judge to remove a character letter from the file that Najjar wrote on her clients behalf before his sentencing in June 2011 for running a $930 million Ponzi scheme.
Throughout the course of our interactions, it is my belief that Mr. Shapiro possesses a unique depth of knowledge and experience concerning representatives of athletics interest [Boosters], agents and the provision of extra-benefits to student-athletes, Najjar wrote U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton. It is possible, that the NCAA could utilize Mr. Shapiro in the future as a consultant and/or speaker to educate our membership.
When The Associated Press first published the content of Najjars letter last month, the NCAA was quoted as saying in a statement: Nevin Shapiro has not been and will not be a consultant for the NCAA.
In her filing, Shapiros lawyer said she now wants to bring this discrepancy to the judges attention for ethical reasons because Najjar had made misrepresentations in his letter that sought to help the convicted felon.
Shapiro came to know Najjar through correspondence in the months after the former UM booster first reported his alleged gift-giving violations to the NCAA in March 2011.
The emails filed in Shapiros criminal case suggest they had come to rely on each other in their joint mission targeting UM. The emails also imply the pair had become friendly.