Two weeks ago, the NCAA announced that it had initiated an investigation of itself for “a very severe issue of improper conduct’’ in its nearly two-year-old inquiry into the University of Miami and its football and basketball programs.
NCAA president Mark Emmert, speaking during that national teleconference Jan. 23, said college athletics’ governing body used the attorney of former booster Nevin Shapiro — and paid her — to improperly obtain information during a bankruptcy deposition.
Now it appears that NCAA vice president of enforcement Julie Roe Lach is the person who “approved the disbursement of at least $20,000 in October-November 2011” for Shapiro’s attorney, according to two sources cited Tuesday night by CBSSports.com.
NCAA spokesman Bob Williams told CBSSports.com that “whether or not Julie approved [the action], it will be part of the external review process. However, the review is solely focused on enforcement.’’
Maria Elena Perez, Shapiro’s Miami-based criminal defense attorney, did not respond to a voicemail Tuesday left by The Miami Herald. She also did not respond to an email.
The report cited sources noting that Roe Lach approved “a budget line’’ for Elena Perez that would compensate her for “legal fees and expenses,’’ and said she had received “some money from the NCAA for her services.”
Miami president Donna Shalala had no comment on the latest report, but said, “I continue to urge people to be patient.’’
The NCAA does not have subpoena power to compel testimony, but Perez took the December 2011 depositions of former UM equipment manager Sean Allen and former NFL agent Michael Huyghue with an NCAA representative outside the room.
The Miami Herald reported Jan. 25 that the Florida Bar has opened a preliminary investigation into possible ethics violations by Perez. The probe focuses on a potential conflict of interest.
“I haven’t done anything wrong,” Perez said after it was learned that the NCAA hired former FBI general counsel and former assistant attorney general for national security Ken Wainstein to conduct the probe into the NCAA’s improper conduct. “Nevin is and always has been my primary concern.”
Emmert said, “based upon preliminary conversations with the investigators,” that he hoped to “wrap up this inquiry in seven to 10 days — two weeks at the outside, and then quickly make decisions about notices of allegations” in the Miami case.
Wednesday marks exactly two weeks.
“I’m acutely aware of the problems this poses for those who are under some cloud,’’ Emmert said. “... When you have something as candidly dramatic as this occur, you can’t offer just words; you’ve got to offer a demonstration that you’re getting this right.’’
Miami Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman contributed to this report.