More NCAA Misconduct Alleged in Miami Investigation

Miami is alleging even more NCAA misconduct as it fights to have its case dismissed. The most explosive allegation is that after Ameen Najjar was fired for using Nevin Shaprio’s attorney to get access to depositions, his replacement kept right at it:

After taking over for Najjar, [Stephanie] Hannah attempted to work with Perez on obtaining information from Shapiro’s bodyguard, Mario Sanchez, who was subpoenaed to appear in a bankruptcy hearing.

The fact that trying to sit in on depositions may have continued after Najjar left the NCAA is troubling. It is a major argument against the idea that this was an isolated incident carried out by a lone individual. At best, it raises even more difficult questions about the amount of oversight of the enforcement staff.

One problem for Miami though:

The deposition with Sanchez never materialized.

That means no additional tainted evidence came out of working with Shapiro’s attorney. There is no additional information that has to be removed from the case. Getting fired up about this is a little like getting fired up by Cecil Newton’s conduct during Cam Newton’s second recruitment and ultimate commitment to Auburn. There’s only so much you can do when someone tries to do something impermissible or unethical, but never succeeds.

This is the much bigger problem for the NCAA and the Miami case:

UM also will allege that NCAA investigators lied to interview subjects by claiming that other people interviewed made comments they never made, in order to trick the subjects into revealing incriminating information they otherwise might not, according to multiple officials familiar with the NCAA’s case against UM and former coaches. UM believes such behavior is unethical.

If that happened, then the NCAA must, at the very least, pull back the notice of allegations and purge it of any information from any interview where the investigator lied about someone’s previous statement.

At that point, prosecutorial discretion might dictate that the case be dropped. It is not that the NCAA should not maintain a case tainted by misconduct. Improperly obtained evidence should be removed and the rest of the case should go forward.

But at some point there is no longer enough evidence to maintain charges worth prosecuting. That especially applies when Miami has in a way pled guilty and served a significant punishment already. If all the NCAA has is small potatoes, logic would dictate that two postseason bans and some scholarship losses are enough and move on.

But the NCAA has to press on, for two reasons. First is that it does not appear that the NCAA has the authority at this point to dismiss the case. That could come after Miami files its response, which is almost certainly being delayed by Miami’s “motion to dismiss” the case. Given this case’s history, the NCAA needs to follow the exact letter of its rules, which say the next opportunity to end this is by the enforcement staff withdrawing its allegations after Miami submits its response.

Second is that the NCAA is in between a rock and a hard place. Carry on with the case, and Miami is likely to sue them. Drop the case, and Miami is likely to sue them. The former is obvious why Miami would turn to litigation. The latter would be because Miami was essentially tricked by the NCAA into self-imposing two postseason bans and limiting its scholarships on the basis of information the NCAA should not have had.

Getting sued is now a fait accompli for the NCAA. The best outcome is for the case to be withdraw or for the Committee on Infractions to throw it out in accordance with the strictest letter of NCAA rules. That would limit both the grounds upon which the NCAA can be sued as well as limiting the damages that might be claimed by Miami, the coaches, and student-athletes.

Posted on by John Infante
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