The NCAA fucked up its investigation of Miami in oh so many ways. But the single largest fuck-up, the one that required a timeout in the case for an outside investigation of its practices, was the NCAA paying the lawyer of imprisoned booster Nevin Shapiro to help them gather evidence. The independent probe found that the NCAA had fired the offending investigator, and that everything gathered by his successor was legitimate. Well, here's something the probe conveniently left out: the NCAA's second investigator on the case tried to use the exact same tactics.
Ameen Najjar was fired last spring, but not until later did it come out that the investigator's main source was convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro and his lawyer, Maria Elena Perez. Shapiro was compensated with perks like money in his prison commissary account, while Perez straight-up got paychecks from the NCAA, mostly to obtain evidence from bankruptcy hearings that had nothing to do with Miami.
This was just outrageously unethical, and NCAA President Mark Emmert acknowledged that "certain investigative tactics...failed our membership." So...what does Emmert say to the news that Najjar's successor continued to work with Perez?
On Friday, the University of Miami will file a motion to dismiss the NCAA's case. Included in that motion, and leaked early to the Miami Herald, is evidence that Stephanie Hannah, the NCAA enforcement officer who took over the Miami case from Najjar, pushed Perez to obtain information from Shapiro's bodyguard in a bankruptcy hearing—precisely the course of action that tainted Najjar's evidence.
In an e-mail exchange with Perez last July, Hannah wrote: “Regarding the enforcement staff’s interest in questioning [name redacted], attached is a document that outlines questions/topics to discuss with him.”
The name redacted was [Shapiro bodyguard Mario] Sanchez, according to multiple sources.
One big honking question is why this didn't appear in the report from the Cadwalader law firm, commissioned by the NCAA to look into its own investigation. A Cadwalader rep gave the Herald a non-answer.
Ms. Hannah had not been involved in the initial arrangements with Ms. Perez and believed that there was nothing amiss and that it had been blessed prior to her involvement.
So the NCAA's "comprehensive" and "independent" investigation was aware of continuing ethical lapses, but just chose not to include it. And they left it out because no one at the NCAA bothered to tell its new Miami investigator that the old one's methods were crooked, and that apparently makes the NCAA blameless.
In their filing tomorrow, Miami will also allege that NCAA investigators tried to trick witnesses into admitting things by telling them, falsely, that other people interviewed had fessed up. In any other instance, this alone would be a major scandal—but as we've said, there's a long line of fuckups and that one will have to wait its turn.
Meanwhile, the NCAA has already told Miami that it won't dismiss the case, because it claims it doesn't have the authority.