NCAA allegations against current, former Miami Hurricanes surface

Charges against the University of Miami include accepting money and ‘unethical conduct’ by coaches

02/21/2013 12:01 AM

09/08/2014 6:20 PM

After the University of Miami’s announcement Tuesday night that it had received its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, information began seeping out and painting a clearer picture Wednesday in the nearly two-year-old case.

Among that information, The Miami Herald learned the specifics of two other Notices of Allegations through public records requests:

• Former Miami assistant basketball coach Jake Morton, now the director of basketball operations at Western Kentucky University, had charges that included accepting “supplemental income in the amount of at least $6,000” from former UM booster Nevin Shapiro.
• Former UM basketball coach Frank Haith “failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance within the men’s basketball program.”

And though UM president Donna Shalala said Tuesday in a written statement that the NCAA enforcement staff “could not find evidence” of Shapiro claims such as UM-related prostitution, expensive cars for players, bounty payments and “rampant alcohol and drug use,” Miami declined again Wednesday to release its Notice of Allegations.

Both basketball and football information leaked from various directions.

For instance, the University of Louisville confirmed that former UM football assistant coach Clint Hurtt had received his Notice of Allegations, but that the school had not responded to a public records request.

A source close to Hurtt said he will dispute some of the allegations.

Another source familiar with the NCAA’s investigation of UM and its former relationship with imprisoned Ponzi-schemer Shapiro told The Miami Herald that former UM football receivers coach Aubrey Hill and former UM basketball assistant Jorge Fernandez were being charged with violating NCAA bylaw 10.1, entitled “unethical conduct.” When reached by phone Wednesday evening, Fernandez, who resigned from Marshall in May, declined comment. “I’m not talking to anybody,” he said.

Hurtt also was charged with violating the “unethical conduct” bylaw, the Associated Press reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed source. The AP stated that the NCAA said Hurtt and Hill “committed the same violations” regarding bylaw 10.1 — “both denying that they provided meals, transportation and lodging to recruits, current players or both in either 2008 or 2009,” while players who were interviewed pointed to the contrary.

Bylaw 10.1 includes, but is not limited to, “knowingly furnishing or influencing others to furnish the NCAA or the individual’s institution false or misleading information” regarding a possible NCAA violation.

The NCAA Committee on Infractions informed Haith, and likely the others involved in the case, that the scheduled hearing date of June 14-15 “is unlikely” and “is anticipated” to occur in July.

Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday that there will be a conference call Friday for UM and the involved coaches to “address their complaints about procedural concerns.” A Miami Herald source familiar with the case confirmed the conference call.

The AP reported Wednesday that the allegations also entail Shapiro paying for “dinners at Benihana, televisions, sneakers, Miami Heat tickets, bowling parties, one player’s engagement ring, a used washer-dryer set for current New England Patriots lineman Vince Wilfork, and that he directed his girlfriend to give two former Hurricanes no-show jobs for a couple of months” — not to mention “buying a suit for former UM tailback Willis McGahee for him to wear to the 2002 Heisman Trophy ceremony.”

In Missouri, Haith — now the coach at the University of Missouri — told reporters Tuesday after his team’s win against Florida that he had received his Notice of Allegations, and that “contrary to what was reported, there was no unethical conduct in my notice of allegation. And it is just an allegation. So we get a chance to defend ourselves. The biggest thing I want to tell you is, I’m glad this thing is almost over with.”

His notice said that “Haith was aware that Shapiro threatened that unless Morton or Haith provided money to Shapiro, Shapiro would make public a claim that Shapiro provided money to assist in the recruitment of a men’s basketball prospective student-athlete. After learning of the threat, Haith failed to alert anyone in the athletics department administration about Shapiro’s threat, ask reasonable questions of Morton to ensure that Shapiro’s claim lacked merit or disclose the fact that Morton engaged in financial dealings with Shapiro.

“Rather, Haith gave Morton funds that Morton then provided to Shapiro.”

In Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama emailed The Miami Herald on Wednesday evening saying the school “has not received any communications from the NCAA” regarding director of football operations Joe Pannunzio — a former Miami assistant tied to Shapiro — “or the NOA issued to Miami.”

Western Kentucky’s release of Morton’s Notice of Allegations, like Haith’s, came with an accompanying letter from the NCAA to the school’s president.

“Although there is no institutional responsibility on the part of Western Kentucky for possible violations involving Mr. Morton,” NCAA managing director of enforcement Rachel Newman-Baker wrote in a Feb. 19-dated corresponding letter to WKU president Gary A. Ransdell, “please be advised that action could be taken that would limit Mr. Morton’s athletically related duties at Western Kentucky for a designated period if he is found in violation by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions or the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee.”

The “basketball allegations” for Morton include four specific situations, according to the NCAA’s notice, that took place between October 2007 and April 2009.

But those allegations did not include Shapiro’s claim that he gave Morton $10,000 to forward to a family member of former UM forward DeQuan Jones in an effort to secure his commitment.

Between October 2008 and April 2009, according to the NCAA, among the alleged violations that occurred:

“Jake Morton and Jorge Fernandez, then assistant men’s basketball coaches, allowed Shapiro to promote the institution’s athletics programs and to assist the institution in the recruitment of three men’s basketball prospective student-athletes,” and also “provided impermissible inducements in the form of transportation and entertainment to individuals associated with the prospective student-athletes” — including “in-person, off-campus recruiting contact in Shapiro’s suite at Dolphin Stadium during a home football game with the boys’ basketball coach of a recruit.”

The allegations for Morton end with this:

It is alleged that between October 2007 and October 2008, Jake Morton, then assistant men’s basketball coach, accepted supplemental income in the amount of at least $6,000” from Shapiro.

Newman-Baker’s letter to WKU president Ransdell concluded by saying that WKU representatives “will be provided an opportunity to attend the Committee on Infractions hearing” in the future, and that they would be notified “well in advance.”

The allegations for an individual involved in the case just state the specific charges for that person. UM has received the entire package of allegations — including the ones for each individual.

Former UM equipment manager Sean Allen did not receive a Notice of Allegations because the information he provided during a deposition was tossed out after the NCAA acknowledged it was obtained improperly.

Miami Herald sports writer Barry Jackson contributed to this report.

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