In a response to the attempts of the University of Miami and four former coaches to have the NCAA case against them tossed, a top NCAA enforcement official has accused UM of grasping at straws and making “meritless claims” and “unsupported attacks” on the enforcement staff.
“The enforcement staff believes the majority of the parties’ assertions in their motion to dismiss are largely based on assumptions, false accusations, misleading statements and meritless claims,” NCAA interim vice president of enforcement Jonathan Duncan said in the 32-page report, obtained by The Miami Herald through an NCAA source.
Duncan said UM "is grasping at straws in an attempt to disqualify members of the enforcement team with the most knowledge about the case."
The report was sent to the NCAA’s infractions committee, as well as UM and representatives for Frank Haith, Aubrey Hill, Jake Morton and Jorge Fernandez – the four former coaches who have joined UM in submitting a motion to dismiss the case. The infractions committee is scheduled to hear the case against UM and the former coaches in mid-June. Haith is now the head men’s basketball coach at Missouri. The three others are currently out of coaching.
A member of the infractions committee staff previously told UM and the coaches that the infractions committee does not believe it has the authority to dismiss the case, but has not told the parties that it has been entirely ruled out.
On a possible dismissal — which UM considers unlikely — Duncan’s letter said: “The enforcement staff would first defer to the committee on infractions on whether it has the authority to act or dismiss a case prior to hearing.
“If the committee on infractions determines that it has such authority, the enforcement staff believes the only legitimate argument raised for such action relates to the potential violation of confidentiality involving the public release of the Cadwalader report [which was an NCAA-commissioned investigation into its handling of part of the Nevin Shapiro case].
“Nevertheless, even if the committee on infractions believes a violation occurred in that regard, the enforcement staff is uncertain of any demonstration of harm that would merit dismissal of the case.”
The NCAA made several concessions in the report:
• It agreed to toss at least some of the testimony given by Kyle Wright, as previously reported by The Associated Press. UM claimed that the NCAA asked questions of Wright resulting from information gathered from a deposition from former UM assistant equipment manager Sean Allen.
The NCAA denied that but said it was tossing an undisclosed amount of the information "in an abundance of caution."
Allen's deposition was tossed because it was obtained using a bankruptcy court procedure, giving the NCAA testimony it otherwise would not have obtained.
• It acknowledged the NCAA’s bylaws involving confidentiality “may have occurred” because specific allegations were mentioned in the publicly released Cadwalader report. Former assistant coaches Morton and Fernandez made that assertion in their motions to dismiss. But Duncan claimed “Fernandez and Morton have not identified a specific harm other than alluding to the harm to their reputations and personal livelihoods as a result of the investigation.”