State Colleges

Attorney for three former UM assistant coaches wants to publicly reveal why NCAA case should be dismissed

The attorney for three former University of Miami coaches involved in the NCAA case told The Miami Herald he sent a letter on Wednesday to NCAA Committee on Infractions chair Britton Banowsky, asking for permission to release their side of the story – and let the public know why the case should be dismissed.

“I can tell you we are barred from discussing [details of the motions to dismiss],” said Jim Zeszutek, who is representing former UM assistant basketball coaches Jake Morton and Jorge Fernandez, and former UM football assistant Aubrey Hill. “We filed a request with the committee to give us an opportunity to publish and disseminate our position.

“[NCAA president] Dr. [Mark] Emmert keeps taking different media opportunities to talk about the position of the NCAA and he keeps talking about tainted evidence vs. good evidence, and that they’re going to go forward with the good evidence against my clients, despite us asking that Dr. Emmert cease doing that. If you’re a reader, jeez, you might be thinking, ‘They must have done something wrong because the NCAA is using the good evidence against them.” ’

Zeszutek, who works for Dinsmore & Shohl in Pittsburgh, told The Miami Herald by phone Thursday that he filed two motions to dismiss the NCAA case. The first, he said, was filed “early in March.

“Then we had a meeting with the chairman of the Committee on Infractions and we filed a second motion March 29 supplementing it, with more information on why the case should be dismissed.”

Also on Thursday, first reported that Zeszutek sent a “notice to preserve evidence” in January to NCAA general counsel Donald M. Remy so that the governing body of college athletics doesn’t get rid of any UM case-related evidence should his clients choose to sue the NCAA.

In confirming that notice, Zeszutek told The Miami Herald, “Now they have a notice of a potential lawsuit and they’re required to protect that data. It seems because of the NCAA’s allegations against my clients, they are not able to secure employment in college athletics, professional athletics or anything to do with athletics. They have no opportunities, although they have the credentials.

“People just won’t hire them because the NCAA is so powerful the prospective employers won’t pull the trigger.”

Morton resigned Thursday from his position as Western Kentucky’s director of basketball operations. The Associated Press reported that school spokesman Michael Schroeder said he left “to pursue coaching opportunities.”

The “notice to preserve evidence,” which The Miami Herald obtained, demands that the NCAA preserve any and all items and evidence, including but not limited to, written, electronic and voice recordings regarding the use of former booster Nevin Shapiro’s lawyer Maria Elena Perez in bankruptcy proceedings related to the investigation; instructions given to Perez by the NCAA regarding the collection of information for the investigation through the bankruptcy proceedings; communications between Perez and the NCAA and general counsel’s office regarding the scope of her retention by the NCAA; all communications between or among the NCAA regarding the UM athletics department; any information the NCAA has regarding of the leaking of information or providing information to the media concerning the case; the communication the NCAA has had with potential employers to bar or discourage the employment of coaches alleged to have committed NCAA infractions.

Zeszutek said he hasn’t gotten a response from the letter he sent Wednesday, but expects he will get one.

“I’ve been a lawyer for 38 years and have been practicing before the Committee on Infractions for 30 of those years,’’ he said. “This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve had experience dealing with these issues before. But this is probably the worst situation for my clients I’ve ever seen, and it’s frustrating.’’

Meanwhile, NCAA president Mark Emmert addressed the media at an NCAA Final Four news conference Friday, answering some questions related to the Miami case.

“The Miami issue had some enormous foul-ups in it,” Emmert said. “We’ve acknowledged that. We’ve addressed those issues. The enforcement staff and all the people that work in enforcement are continuing to do their jobs, and they do a terrific one.”

When asked about ongoing litigation against the NCAA, not specifically related to UM’s case, Emmert said, “If you’re not getting sued today, you’re not doing anything. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t have litigation pending, so I’m not going to apologize for the fact we have a very litigious society, and there’s plenty of reasons to file suit against large organizations.”

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