Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Miami probe follows Frank Haith
ESPN.com news services
ST. LOUIS -- Frank Haith wasn't Missouri's first choice as basketball coach. Now, the school has to live with the potential fallout.
A disgraced former booster at the University of Miami, Nevin Shapiro, told Yahoo! Sports he violated NCAA rules with the knowledge or direct participation of at least six Hurricanes coaches, including Haith, the basketball coach at Miami at the time. Shapiro is in prison after being convicted of running a massive Ponzi scheme.
Shapiro said his influence at the school spread to the men's basketball program in 2007, when he paid $10,000 to help secure the commitment of recruit DeQuan Jones in a transaction set up by assistant coach Jake Morton and later acknowledged by Haith in a one-on-one conversation.
Missouri said Tuesday that it is aware of the report and that the NCAA has asked to speak with Haith.
Haith lashed out at the story in a statement released through Missouri late Tuesday.
"I am more than happy to cooperate with the national office on this issue and look forward to a quick resolution," Haith said. "The NCAA has instructed me not to comment further at this time in order to protect the integrity of their review, so I appreciate your understanding in this matter. The reports questioning my personal interactions with Mr. Shapiro are not an accurate portrayal of my character."
Haith was hired in early April, right about the same time the NCAA launched its investigation at Miami.
At the time, athletic director Mike Alden proclaimed Haith a character hire. It was unknown whether Haith or anyone at Missouri was aware of the NCAA investigation.
David Bradley, publisher of the St. Joseph, Mo., News-Press and a member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators, said the board backed Haith's hire on Alden's recommendation.
"He thought he was a well-qualified guy," Bradley said. "I hope there's no truth to the allegations."
Haith's first season with the Tigers will now begin under a cloud and he was already the subject of skepticism among the Tigers faithful after going 129-101 in seven seasons at Miami. Missouri tried to keep Anderson and publicly courted Matt Painter of Purdue before hiring Haith.
The vibe conjures unpleasant memories from a mess five years earlier, when Quin Snyder was forced to resign midseason. Alden was under fire then for his handling of the matter, including allegations he sent a radio announcer to fire Snyder.
Snyder produced NCAA tournament bids his first four seasons but the school landed on NCAA probation for three years in 2004 after a year of scrutiny of activities surrounding former point guard Ricky Clemons, including a one-year ban from off-campus recruiting.
Clemons subsequently accused a Tigers assistant coach of paying him cash, charges that an NCAA investigation failed to substantiate. The NCAA did identify 42 violations, from improper meal purchases for amateur coaches to improper contact with recruits by Snyder and two assistants.
Snyder resigned in a two-sentence statement 21 games into the 2005-06 season, though he still claims that he was fired.
Anderson's four seasons were controversy-free, and the last three ended in the NCAA tournament. He left for Arkansas in March.
Haith has a five-year contract that will pay him a base salary of $1.5 million per season with an automatic one-year contract extension effective May 1, 2012. The contract includes language that states the school can terminate Haith because of "any behavior of the employee that brings him into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule or any behavior that is unfavorable to the reputation or moral or ethical standards of the university."
The contract also states transgressions that occurred prior to being hired also can result in termination.
The contract also has a more stringent buyout clause, designed to prevent him from jumping to another job with a $1.2 million penalty after one year that gradually decreases to $500,000 by year four.
The board of curators is holding a regularly scheduled meeting Friday in Kansas City, but Bradley said he was unaware whether the Haith situation would be added to the agenda.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.