Ex-coaches want Miami case tossed

Updated: February 22, 2013, 1:51 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Three former Miami assistant coaches filed a motion on Thursday with the NCAA asking that their infractions cases be dismissed because of the mistakes that governing body for college athletics made in their long investigation of the Hurricanes, according to The Associated Press.

Former football assistant Aubrey Hill and former basketball assistants Jake Morton and Jorge Fernandez had their motion delivered to the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, according to a person who spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity because neither side authorized the release of any information.

The motion, according to the person, says the three coaches believe the NCAA's alliance with the attorney for the former booster at the center of the Miami scandal has created a scenario where they cannot "get a fair and reasonable proceeding."

A conference call on the matter is scheduled for Friday with the NCAA.

"It's unprecedented that all this is happening, and happening this way," the person said.

On Thursday, the Miami board of trustees chair published an open letter to the NCAA in The Miami Herald asking that no further sanctions should be imposed.

"While I believe that the University of Miami will emerge stronger and more committed than ever to the letter and the spirit in which the NCAA's rules of conduct were established, the trustees respectfully, but firmly, add our own voice to President Shalala's in asking that no further sanctions be imposed," reads the letter signed by Leonard Abess.

The NCAA believes Hill and Fernandez provided them with misleading information during the probe into Miami athletics, and cited them as believed to be in violation with what's known as Rule 10.1 -- the broad one governing ethical conduct. Morton was also cited in the case against the Hurricanes, after the NCAA said he, among other things, accepted "supplemental income" of at least $6,000 from the former booster, Nevin Shapiro.

Miami received its notice of allegations from the NCAA on Tuesday. In that letter, the NCAA said the Hurricanes had a "lack of institutional control" for the way they failed to monitor Shapiro, a convicted felon who provided cash, gifts and other items to players on the football and men's basketball teams over a span of about eight years.

Shapiro is serving a 20-year prison term for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

It's unknown when the committee will decide anything related to the motion. The NCAA has told other coaches named in the notice of allegations, including Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith, that responses to the letter are due by May 20 -- and that the case may not be heard by the infractions committee until July unless all parties involve agree to an expedited schedule.

The case that will be presented on behalf of Hill, Morton and Fernandez is also expected to include the assertion that since the NCAA cooperated with Shapiro attorney Maria Elena Perez -- who deposed two witnesses that the NCAA wanted to hear from as part of her client's bankruptcy case and used subpoena power to do so, a tool the association does not have in its arsenal -- that fraud was also perpetrated on the bankruptcy court.

The news of the motion was just one part of yet another busy day as it relates to the Miami-NCAA saga, which almost seemed to be dragging along for the better part of two years before this wild week filled with acknowledgements of wrongdoing by investigators, the delivery of the actual charges, two extremely sharp-tongued statements issued by university president Donna Shalala about the process and now what essentially amounts to legal wrangling.

And one Florida state lawmaker has now called the NCAA's probe of the Hurricanes "a witch hunt."

At Louisville, the Cardinals have made the decision to keep assistant coach Clint Hurtt on staff while he answers NCAA allegations of ethical misconduct while he was an assistant with the Hurricanes. Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said he doesn't see a need to change Hurtt's role or status with the program right now, but that he couldn't say whether Hurtt will be with Louisville next season.

"Clint is due his due process," Jurich said. "I think that's the only fair thing that we can do as a university. Clint's side of the story is much different than the allegations are so I think we wait the 90 days and see how it unfolds then."

Like Hill and Fernandez, Hurtt faces a charge that he breached the ethical-conduct provision from the NCAA.

Also Thursday, a member of the Florida Senate wrote the state's Attorney General, asking that the NCAA be investigated for what he called "lack of institutional control" on the association's part.

Sen. Joseph Abruzzo wrote Attorney General Pam Bondi, saying that NCAA investigators "engaged in corrupt behavior in an attempt to manufacture misdeeds against the University of Miami" and in doing so, may actually have violated Florida law.

"I am requesting that the NCAA's admitted wrongdoing be investigated immediately before the NCAA's witch hunt against the University of Miami causes further damage," Abruzzo wrote.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

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