Miami Fires Back at NCAA Investigation

NCAA President Mark Emmert called actions used to obtain information in its UM investigation "an embarrassment to the association"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NCAA President Mark Emmert said Monday that information from depositions wrongfully obtained by his investigators in his organization s probe of UM is now useless. The NCAA's findings show enforcement staffers knowingly circumvented legal advice to engage the criminal defense attorney of convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro, and violated internal policy on using outside attorneys. Shapiro's attorney, Maria Elena Perez, told NBC 6 that she didn't violate the law and did nothing wrong. (Published Monday, Feb 18, 2013)

    Firing back for the first time at the long investigation of her school's athletic department, Miami President Donna Shalala has released a statement saying the Hurricanes "have been wronged" by what she called a flawed NCAA probe.

    Shalala says Miami wants a swift resolution — with no additional penalties other than the ones the Hurricanes have already self-imposed, such as two missed bowl games, a missed Atlantic Coast Conference football championship game and scholarship reductions.

    "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," Shalala said in the email statement.

    Hours earlier, the NCAA said it will proceed with the investigation into the University of Miami despite the findings of an external review that discovered "missteps" by staffers in the UM probe, the organization said Monday.

    However, the NCAA also said it will only proceed "with information properly obtained by the enforcement staff." Information obtained through the unrelated bankruptcy proceedings will not be used in the UM investigation.

    "With the completion of the external enforcement review, we recognize that certain investigative tactics used in portions of the University of Miami case failed our membership," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. "As I stated before, we are committed to making the necessary improvements to our enforcement processes and ensuring our actions are consistent with our own values and member expectations."

    The external review was announced last month after the NCAA revealed that former NCAA enforcement staff members worked with the criminal defense attorney for convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro to improperly obtain information through Shapiro's bankruptcy proceeding, which did not directly involve the NCAA.

    On Monday, the NCAA said the external review found staff members "acted contrary to internal protocols, legal counsel and the membership’s understanding about the limits of its investigative powers in the University of Miami case."

    NCAA President Discusses Improper Conduct Related to UM Investigation

    [MI] NCAA President Mark Emmert Discusses Improper Conduct Related to University of Miami Investigation
    NCAA President Mark Emmert discussed improper conduct by the NCAA related to the investigation into the University of Miami's Nevin Shapiro scandal in a conference call with reporters. (Published Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013)

    Emmert and attorney Kenneth L. Wainstein discussed the findings of the external review during a teleconference Monday afternoon. "We found very clearly the enforcement staff disregarded ... the advice they got from the legal staff," said Wainstein. Wainstein, a partner with the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, conducted the external review.

    The report the NCAA released Monday said Shapiro's attorney, Maria Elena Perez, billed the NCAA for $57,115 worth of work performed from October 2011 through July 2012. The NCAA said it paid about $18,000.

    It was reported earlier this month that NCAA vice president of enforcement Julie Roe Lach authorized a payment of over $20,000 to Perez in exchange for information gathered during the deposition of two Shapiro associates in December 2011 as part of a bankruptcy proceeding.

    One of the people Perez deposed was former UM equipment room staffer Sean Allen, who said he was not contacted by the NCAA directly during the external review. A transcript of Allen's deposition shows that much of his deposition involved Perez asking questions about Miami athletics, matters which would not have seemed directly involved to Shapiro's bankruptcy case.

    Perez told NBC 6 that she didn’t violate the law and did nothing wrong.

    “At the end of the day, why would I think anything is dubious, dealing with the gentleman who is head of the enforcement, who had been with the NCAA for four years and was at the head of this investigation for quite some time,” Perez said.

    Later Monday, the NCAA announced that Lach is leaving the organization. She is being replaced by new interim VP of enforcement Jonathan Duncan. He has spent the past 15 years focusing on sports law and education at a private law firm.

    Speaking about NCAA's actions during its investigation of UM, Emmert said during the teleconference, "This is something that is an embarrassment to the association."

    UM Names Blake James Athletic Director

    On Jan. 23, Emmert announced the organization would conduct an investigation of its staff's actions in the UM investigation after improper arrangements came to his attention. "I am deeply disappointed and frustrated and even angry about these circumstances," Emmert said at the time.

    UM has existed in a state of limbo since the Shapiro investigation began.

    The completion of the external review removes a final barrier to the delivery of a formal notice of allegations to UM regarding the Shapiro scandal. Nearly two years into the NCAA's investigation, UM will soon get a chance to receive and appeal charges from the NCAA.

    However, Emmert declined to say when UM can expect to receive the notice of allegations, meaning the school's waiting game will continue.