It still might be another six to eight weeks at the earliest before the NCAA’s Committee of Infractions announces the violations and penalties the University of Miami’s football and men’s basketball teams face, but that doesn’t mean a tentative verdict hasn’t already been reached.
In fact, it probably has, says University of Wyoming law professor Jerry Parkinson, who served in a volunteer capacity as Coordinator of Appeals for the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions from 2000-’10.
"Traditionally, what happens is when they have a hearing the committee all stays around until they’ve fully deliberated on each of the cases they heard. If they only had Miami [this past weekend], it’s possible they did those deliberations on Saturday before everybody scattered," said Parkinson, who has followed the Miami closely through news reports.
"They’ll take whatever time is necessary to go through all of the allegations to make findings that supported by the evidence and decide whatever penalties they’re going to impose. At least the tentative decision will have been made already."
Parkinson said one member of the eight-person Committee on Infractions is then assigned to write the initial draft of the infractions report with the help of NCAA staff that is nearby in Indianapolis. That process can go through several drafts before it’s presented again to the full committee during a conference call typically six to eight weeks later.
"The committee will get together and they will take a few hours because they go through the report thoroughly, essentially edit and make changes," Parkinson said. "If the committee members have changed their minds from where their initial decisions were made, they can throw that out, too. So, it’s a work in progress, a working document that’s in process right up to the point it’s released to the press and made public."
Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky headed the 16 1/2 hours worth of hearings this past weekend in Indianapolis, asking questions about allegations not only geared at UM, but former basketball coaches Frank Haith, Jake Morton and Jorge Fernandez and football assistants Aubrey Hill and Clint Hurtt.
"The committee operates by consensus so there are no dissenting opinions," Parkinson said. "There may be times when there are some disagreements during the deliberation process that the committee actually does take a vote. Whoever is in the majority is what holds fourth unless there are changes later on."
Was it a good sign for Miami that the deliberations took less than two full days compared to the USC case, which lasted three? Not necessarily, Parkinson said.
"Most hearings are scheduled for one full day and usually eight to 10 hours are enough to handle everything," he said. "The length of the hearing is really defined by the extent of the allegations and whether or not there is significant dispute about the allegations."
In UM’s case, while the proceedings did get loud on occasion on the second day of hearings, word from those inside is that it ran smoothly and respectfully for the most part.
Ultimately, Parkinson said what helps Miami in its case is it self-imposed two postseason bans in football, and the primary witness for the NCAA, Nevin Shapiro, is a convicted felon, serving a 20-year prison sentence for running a $930 million Ponzi scheme.