Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Miami Blues: NCAA suspends investigation of the U

Just days after the NCAA announced progress in its investigation of improprieties tied to former University of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, the NCAA suspended the investigation entirely. This comes on the heels of the NCAA’s discovery that as part of the investigation, the Association actually paid Shapiro’s defense attorney in order to obtain documents from his bankruptcy proceeding; documents that the NCAA was not supposed to have. According to the NCAA’s press release, the association with Shapiro’s attorney was not authorized since the NCAA does not have subpoena power, and cannot compel testimony from proceedings outside of its own enforcement program. President Mark Emmert, speaking in response, expressed sadness and anger that the integrity of the process was compromised.

Just two days ago, it was reported that the NCAA was prepared to issue numerous notices of allegations to a number of coaches associated with the Shapiro scandal, including current Missouri and former University of Miami Head Basketball Coach Frank Haith. Also implicated was former Miami assistant and current Louisville Associate Head Football Coach Clint Hurtt. Both were expected to face serious charges of unethical conduct and failure to foster an atmosphere of compliance. Now, the Association will turn its attention onto itself for its own non-compliance.

The NCAA has commissioned Kenneth L. Wainstein of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, LLP to conduct an investigation into its own enforcement program, including issues related to this specific case and the “overall enforcement environment.” Until this investigation is completed, all notices of allegations are on hold. It will be interesting to see exactly how deep this external evaluation digs into the entire enforcement framework now in place. Keep in mind, just a few months ago, another NCAA investigation related to UCLA basketball player Shabazz Muhammad was compromised by enforcement staff improprieties, and Muhammad was eventually ruled eligible as a result.

Perhaps an external assessment of the NCAA’s enforcement procedures will bring about the changes needed to better ensure a full and fair process for student-athletes and institutions. Ultimately, however, expect a swift resolution to the investigation. The Miami case has been one of the longest investigations conducted by the Association in some time, and I would be astonished if the NCAA abandoned those efforts at this juncture. We will know more about what exactly transpired in the coming weeks, but a full scale overhaul of the system appears rather unlikely.

Hat tip to associate Brian Konkel for his work on this piece.

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