CORAL GABLES - The University of Miami has been “wronged” by the NCAA in its two-year investigation of the school’s football and basketball programs and “no additional punitive measures” should be levied, university president Donna Shalala said in a statement released Monday night.
The NCAA admitted Monday that an external review found improper conduct by its enforcement staffers that will cause a substantial portion of its findings against UM to be discarded.
But NCAA President Mark Emmert said the case involving impermissible benefits provided by rogue booster Nevin Shapiro to UM athletes, coaches and recruits will continue “with information properly obtained by the enforcement staff” and added that there will be no settlement with the school. Emmert said he expected the case to end up before the NCAA’s infractions committee.
UM and the NCAA have worked closely during the investigation, but Shalala reacted angrily in a statement, saying the school’s football team has suffered enough.
“The University takes full responsibility for the conduct of its employees and student-athletes,” the statement said. “Where the evidence of NCAA violations has been substantiated, we have self-imposed appropriate sanctions, including unilaterally eliminating once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for our students and coaches over the past two years, and disciplining and withholding players from competition.
“We believe strongly in the principles and values of fairness and due process. However, we have been wronged in this investigation, and we believe that this process must come to a swift resolution, which includes no additional punitive measures beyond those already self-imposed.”
UM has self-imposed bowl bans in each of the past two football seasons and has reduced scholarships by an undisclosed amount. The Hurricanes also self-imposed a ban on playing in the ACC championship game last season. It would have been their first appearance in the game.
Shalala’s statement goes on to say the university has lived by its promises to cooperate in the ongoing probe “but sadly the NCAA has not lived up to their own core principles. The lengthy and already flawed investigation has demonstrated a disappointing pattern of unprofessional and unethical behavior.”
The comments seem to indicate that UM might be considering legal action against the NCAA.
On Monday, the NCAA released an external review that looked into “a severe issue of improper conduct” by investigators in the Miami case. The review found that enforcement staffers “acted contrary to internal protocols, legal counsel and the membership’s understanding about the limits of its investigative powers” in hiring Shapiro’s criminal defense attorney, Maria Elena Perez, to conduct depositions and improperly gain information.
According to the review, enforcement staffers were advised not to work with Perez, but did so anyway. Julie Roe Lach, vice president for NCAA enforcement, was fired for her involvement in the case, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Kenneth L. Wainstein, hired by the NCAA to conduct the external review, said that 13 interviews and portions of 12 others were thrown out because they involved misconduct by investigators.
“If we were ballparking it, I’d say somewhere in the range of 20 percent of the information that surfaced … (was) taken out as a result of this review,” Wainstein said.
Emmert declined to give a timetable on when UM would receive its notice of allegations, which details the charges brought by the enforcement staff.
Asked if UM deserved a “mistrial” in light of the NCAA’s misconduct, Emmert said: “It will be up to the committee of infractions who will pass judgment on this to determine the validity of the arguments put in front of them. The intention is to move forward with this case. There’s still a lot of information available that is not tainted by this.”
But Shalala said in her statement that the NCAA’s entire case might be spoiled.
“Regardless of where blame lies internally with the NCAA, even one individual, one act, one instance of malfeasance both taints the entire process and breaches the public’s trust,” she said.