Not a good day for the NCAA. The enforcement program, the hired guns responsible for investigating and recommending penalties for NCAA infractions, has come under its own scrutiny. The probe into the University of Miami booster scandal has been put on hold today, as president Mark Emmert announced a number of problems with the investigation. Most notably: Nevin Shapiro's attorney was paid by the NCAA to obtain documents that they weren't legally allowed to have. Improper conduct all around!
You remember the Miami scandal. Shapiro, a booster currently behind bars for his role in a Ponzi scheme, was alleged to have provided cash and gifts to numerous players and recruits. The NCAA's only source seemed to be Shapiro himself, who was pushing a book and was bitter toward the university for turning its back on him. In a teleconference with reporters today, Emmert revealed that investigators had relied on information gathered from Shapiro's bankruptcy proceedings—something the NCAA isn't supposed to have access to.
The information was obtained through Shapiro's defense attorney, who was on the NCAA's payroll. Curiously, Emmert said that nobody in Indianapolis had approved the attorney's hire, and the payouts were only discovered when a bill showed up months later.
The NCAA has retained an outside law firm to examine what happened here, and will not proceed with the Miami case until that investigation is finished. Miami, meanwhile, has banned itself for the past two postseasons with self-imposed sanctions.
"To say the least, I am angered and saddened by this situation. Trust and credibility are essential to our regulatory tasks," said Emmert. "My intent is to ensure our investigatory functions operate with integrity and are fair and consistent with our member schools, athletics staff and most importantly our student-athletes," he added.
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There was not nearly so much self-examination after it emerged that an NCAA investigator had made up her mind about UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad even before a ruling was made. That came to light when the investigator's boyfriend loudly boasted about how the NCAA would declare him ineligible, a conversation overheard on an airplane.
That investigator was fired, and judging from the NCAA's reference to "former" enforcement staff members in the Miami case, there are a few more people out of work today.
Like we said, not a good day for the NCAA, but a great day for anyone who believes the system is fundamentally broken and unfair. It'd be nice if the whole thing were blown up, but expect some cosmetic fixes before the cartel carries on. Considering the NCAA only expects this investigation to last 7-10 days, they'll be back to business soon enough.