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."
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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.
"I can’t remember a single case where a two-year post-season ban was imposed. So that goes a long way in that they took serious steps and imposed harsh penalties on themselves,” Parkinson said. “That doesn’t mean the committee will necessarily just accept all of them. But I think it does help. Those are very meaningful, very significant penalties and that means a lot to the committee.
"[Former UM athletic director] Paul Dee was on that committee for nine years. We all knew and loved Paul. [UM President] Donna Shalala is a highly respected university president. I mean, there’s no question in this case the people who are in charge of athletics at Miami are and were good quality people, and there’s no reason to think they were even beginning to be in the league of the people at SMU, which is the only case that got the death penalty. It’s not like people wondered who was in charge. They respect those people and that carries some weight, too."
While Shapiro alleged he spent millions lavishing UM players and coaches with improper benefits, ultimately UM’s Notice of Allegations, received Feb. 19 included numbers far less staggering. According to an Associated Press report, the NOA said Shapiro provided $170,000 in benefits to players, recruits, coaches and others between 2002-’10. About $90,000 of that was used to get former UM defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and cornerback Antrel Rolle to sign with Shapiro’s sports agency, Axcess Sports.
The AP also reported that the NOA mentioned that 48 players received VIP access and beverage service from Shapiro at Miami nightclubs; 38 were entertained at Shapiro’s home; 18 received invitations to bowling alley events; and seven dined with Shapiro at Benihana.
"The goal these days is to shoot for six to eight weeks [for a ruling]," Parkinson said. "But because this is an involved case that took a couple days, I’d say eight to 12 [weeks] is a reasonable expectation for a final verdict."
Dye still waiting
The criminal complaint filed by Hurricanes football player Dyron Dye against former NCAA investigator Rich Johanningmeier will not lead to charges being filed.
Spokesman Ed Griffith of the state attorney’s office told the Miami Herald last week there was no evidence that a crime had been committed even though Dye said Johanningmeier "coerced him into providing favorable answers for [the NCAA’s] investigation."
Darren Heitner, Dye’s attorney, said he and his client are waiting with much anticipation to see what the NCAA plans to do with the 6-5, 261-pound’s eligibility.
"Right now, there is no indication his eligibility is at risk," Heitner said.