State Colleges

University of Miami wants Kyle Wright interview tossed from NCAA investigation

One of the points of contention in the NCAA’s ongoing battle with the University of Miami is that UM wants an incriminating interview with former Hurricanes quarterback Kyle Wright tossed from being used as evidence, three sources told The Miami Herald.

Wright, whose name was redacted (and instead identified as “Student 1”) from the version of UM’s motion to dismiss recently leaked to the public, was interviewed by the NCAA on Feb. 24, 2012, an interview that “should have been expunged from the record,” according to UM’s motion filed March 29.

UM contends that the questions asked could have been “improperly influenced by information that the enforcement staff had received” from the December 2011 deposition of former UM equipment room worker Sean Allen.

The 45-page motion states that during the interview, Wright provided information “used to substantiate” six allegations against Miami.

In an October 2012 story, The Miami Herald reported that Allen was asked by the NCAA about at least two trips that Allen claimed he and Michael Huyghue, then UM booster Nevin Shapiro’s former business partner, took with Wright in 2005.

One trip was to the Bahamas and another to a Snoop Dogg concert at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, where they stayed at the Ritz Carlton. Wright was a sophomore then.

But Allen was never questioned during his December 2011 deposition about those trips. He was asked about whether he or Shapiro provided money or extra benefits to Wright and numerous other football players at UM.

UM’s position is that such information was supposed to be removed as evidence by the NCAA because Wright would have never offered it had he not known Allen had been deposed.

After hiring an outside law firm to conduct an investigation of the NCAA’s enforcement-related handling of the case, college athletics’ governing body said it removed all “tainted” evidence tied to two bankruptcy-related depositions conducted by Shapiro’s lawyer, Maria Elena Perez. The final report made public by the NCAA in February said Perez was paid to improperly obtain the information during the depositions of Allen and Huyghue. The NCAA does not have subpoena power.

“The Notice [of Allegations] contained several allegations that were substantiated either completely or in large measure from testimony provided by [Wright] in his February 24, 2012, interview,” UM wrote in its motion.

Two sources said that Friday was the deadline for the NCAA to file its response to multiple motions-to-dismiss by UM lawyers and several former coaches. Each said they hadn’t heard if that had happened as of late in the day.

An NCAA spokeswoman did not respond to a phone message and email left by The Miami Herald.

The Associated Press reported Friday that Wright “appears several times in the notice of allegations against Miami, and that he is one of 48 players the NCAA said received ‘VIP access and beverage service’ from Shapiro at Miami nightclubs between 2002 and 2009; He was also one of 38 players the NCAA said was entertained at Shapiro’s home, one of 18 who received invitations to bowling alley outings from the former booster, and one of seven who dined with him at a Benihana restaurant.

“Wright, also according to the [NOA] against Miami, received at least $1,824 in impermissible benefits ‘in an effort to secure signing with Axcess Sports.’ ”

UM also said the NCAA informed it several times that it was Wright who “reached out” to request being interviewed, but that Wright told a UM outside counsel that “he did not contact the NCAA.”

UM reported that Wright said former investigator Rich Johanningmeier contacted him to request the interview.

“Going into [the interview] I did know that, you know, Allen was involved in a deposition two weeks prior to my call, so I knew that the information had been given to the NCAA,” Wright is quoted as saying. “I live and work a normal job just like everybody else, and really the last thing I wanted to do was, you know, have my name mixed up in this and have my family’s named mixed up in this.”

Wright “stated the only reason he responded to the NCAA’s interview request was because he was aware Allen had been deposed on the matter.”

The two indicated, UM wrote, that “they had a friendly relationship.”

UM wrote in its motion to dismiss: “Given that [Wright] never would have agreed to be interviewed by the enforcement staff were it not for his knowledge that Allen had been deposed, [Wright’s] interview should have been completely expunged from the investigative record and the Notice devoid of allegations that were charged based” on his testimony.

“… If the enforcement staff could not properly investigate itself to sufficiently ‘cleanse’ the investigative record [even with outside help], how can [UM] have confidence that the enforcement staff competently carried out the investigation?”

Miami Herald staff writers Barry Jackson and Jay Weaver contributed to this report.

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