NCAA admits missteps in Miami case
The NCAA named Jonathan Duncan as interim vice president of enforcement on Monday in the wake of admitted "missteps" and "insufficient oversight" in its investigation of Miami's athletics department.
Duncan will replace Julie Roe Lach, whose firing was reported earlier by Yahoo! Sports.
"Obviously, this is an outcome that nobody wants to see on their watch or anyone else's," NCAA president Mark Emmert said. "This is something that's an embarrassment to the association and our staff."
Despite an earlier report that a source told ESPN's Brett McMurphy that managing director of enforcement Tom Hosty was also fired, Emmert told USA Today that Hosty will remain with the organization.
On Monday, the NCAA released the results of an external probe of how it investigated the Hurricanes, nearly a month after revealing what it called "a very severe issue of improper conduct." That issue was that the attorney for former booster and convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro was used to improperly obtain information.
Despite admitting that missteps were made, the NCAA said the case against Miami will proceed "with information properly obtained by the enforcement staff."
Firing back for the first time at the long investigation, Miami president Donna Shalala released a statement Monday night saying the Hurricanes "have been wronged" by what she called a flawed 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.
"The lengthy and already flawed investigation has demonstrated a disappointing pattern of unprofessional and unethical behavior," Shalala said in the statement. "By the NCAA leadership's own admission, the University of Miami has suffered from inappropriate practices by NCAA staff. There have also been damaging leaks to the media of unproven charges. 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."
However, Miami's notice of allegations, essentially the document that details what the NCAA will accuse the Hurricanes of, could now be delivered as early as Tuesday. And that will usher in the sanctions portion of the process, when the Hurricanes will find out what penalties, other than the ones they've already self-imposed, still await.
Lach was part of the chain that approved payments to Maria Elena Perez, the attorney for Shapiro. According to the 52-page report commissioned by the NCAA, Perez offered her help to the NCAA in the form of "using bankruptcy subpoenas to compel depositions from witnesses who had refused to cooperate."
The NCAA, in turn, provided her with specific questions to ask, those coming in an email from former investigator Ameen Najjar, dated Dec. 18, 2011. "Maria, Listed below are a number of areas we would like you to explore," began the email from Najjar.
From there, he listed 34 questions, none of which seem to be in any way related to a bankruptcy case.
The NCAA does not have subpoena power. Upon learning that Perez was willing to participate with investigators, members of the NCAA's legal team urged the enforcement department not to proceed, though were apparently ignored. And now the depositions given by former Miami equipment-room staffer Sean Allen and former Shapiro business partner Michael Huyghue -- along with any other lead that came out of their interviews -- have been tossed from the NCAA's case against the Hurricanes.
"Based upon our review, it is our opinion that the current assertions in the U. Miami Investigative Record are not based on evidence that is derived, directly or indirectly, from the depositions of Mr. Allen or Mr. Huyghue," said the report, which was prepared by Kenneth L. Wainstein, an attorney hired to lead the probe that Emmert ordered last month.
Wainstein estimated on a teleconference that about 20 percent of the case against Miami had to be tossed because of the depositions.
According to the report and other documents released by the NCAA on Monday, Perez billed the NCAA for $57,115 worth of work performed from October 2011 through July 2012 -- though Lach and other officials were expecting the amount of her work to cost roughly $15,000. The depositions of Allen and Huyghue were performed in December 2011.
Records show Perez was paid at least $19,609, and one email released by the NCAA from an investigator who worked on the case said they wanted her to depose Allen because the NCAA "did not think he would interview with us again" otherwise.
Perez did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Another email, one she wrote to Najjar, was released as part of the NCAA's package on Monday, in which she said on Jan. 31, 2012 that she was unhappy with how long it was taking her to be paid.
"Ameen, trust me when I say that if I had endless financial means I would exhaust them just to see this investigation through the end, and likewise crush those responsible for corrupting same," Perez wrote.
Allen was not contacted during the NCAA's external probe, which started late last month after Emmert said major breakdowns in the association's own procedures were discovered.
One of the more interesting elements in the report released Monday was that now-retired Associate Director of Enforcement Rich Johanningmeier -- the original point of contact for the association with Shapiro -- bought a prepaid cellphone and paid for Shapiro's prison phone calls. The NCAA spent about $8,200 "to fund communications with Mr. Shapiro, including transfers of approximately $4,500 to his prison commissary account."
What remains unclear, even now, is why it took many months for those breakdowns to come to light.
"We found very clearly the enforcement staff disregarded ... the advice they got from the legal staff," Wainstein said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.