The results of a two-year investigation into the University of
Miami's athletic program are out -- and it is expected to generate a bigger
fight between the NCAA and the university. Among dozens of allegations, the
school has been cited with a "lack of institutional control," the most serious
charge the NCAA can level.
The private school is not bound by open records laws, but published reports revealed the case is not nearly as strong as it once appeared.
Still, the school was charged at the highest level, the Associated Press reported. It resulted from the time ex-booster Nevin Shapiro claims he broke dozens of NCAA rules over nearly a decade involving UM's basketball and football programs.
Several former UM coaches, who allegedly participated in the infractions, also were charged with violations. That included three -- Aubrey Hill, Clint Hurtt and Jorge Fernandez -- who were reportedly accused of misleading NCAA investigators, the AP reported.
Thus far, two allegation notices have been made public by the current employer of a former UM coach.
Former head basketball coach Frank Haith, who now leads the University of Missouri program, was charged with failure to monitor, according to a document obtained by the Sun Sentinel. Haith is accused of paying off Shapiro (via Haith's assistant coach Jake Morton) after Shapiro threatened to go public with claims he paid a recruit. Haith failed to alert the threat to the school, the allegations say.
"Contrary to what was reported, there was no unethical conduct in my notice of allegations," Haith told reporters in Columbia, Mo., after Tuesday night's win over Florida. "It is just an allegation, so we get a chance to defend ourselves."
It could also mean the UM men's basketball program would face less severe sanctions if the remaining allegations hold up.
The scrutiny is not having much impact on the program. The Hurricanes, ranked second in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, won a school-record 14th straight game Tuesday while the school was releasing its statement about the NCAA's investigation. There does not appear to be any threat of a self-imposed postseason ban for the team and coach Jim Larranaga isn't fretting over it.
"We can only focus on the things we have control over," he said. "We have nothing to do with the investigation. We have a very able-bodied administration and they take care of all that."
Morton, now at Western Kentucky, was charged in three separate incidents of facilitating meetings with Shapiro and coaches of recruits, according to a document obtained by the Sun Sentinel.
Current senior basketball player Durand Scott's high school coaches received impermissible transportation and entertainment at a local nightclub, the NCAA alleges. Morton also is accused of receiving $6,000 in supplementary income from Shapiro, who's currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for his role in a $930 million Ponzi Scheme.
Allegations did not arrive for a few former UM assistants who were previously implicated in news reports.
No NCAA communications were received at the University of Alabama, the current employer of ex-Miami football assistant Joe Pannunzio. He was named in the August 2011 report from Yahoo! Sports that publicly exposed the massive investigation. Shapiro didn't answer Yahoo! questions and Alabama spokesperson Deborah Lane said the NCAA did not deliver any notice of allegations.
Michael Schwartz, a former basketball assistant at UM, was told by the NCAA this week he would not be receiving allegations. As recently as Jan. 21, CBSSports.com reported Schwartz would be facing unethical conduct charges. But his current employer, Fresno State, said the NCAA told them, "Schwartz is not at risk and will not receive a notice of allegations."
CBSSports.com also reported current Philadelphia Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland will not receive allegations after being implicated in the Yahoo! story.
It's unclear if evidence against Schwartz, Pannunzio and Stoutland was among the 20 percent thrown out by the NCAA for improper investigative practices.
UM president Donna Shalala is not happy with the allegations and sanctions they could bring. She blasted the NCAA on Monday when it admitted 20 percent of its evidence was tainted by improper investigative practices. Shalala went on the offensive again late Tuesday night after the school acknowledged receiving the allegations two years after the investigation began.
She slammed "sensationalized" media reports of Shapiro's accusations that "are found nowhere in the notice of allegations." Shalala didn't say the school was innocent of all charges, "but we have suffered enough."
"Despite their efforts over two and a half years, the NCAA enforcement staff could not find evidence of prostitution, expensive cars for players, expensive dinners paid for by boosters, player bounty payments, rampant alcohol and drug use, or the alleged hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts given to student-athletes, as reported in the media," Shalala's 501-word statement read in part. "The fabricated story played well -- the facts did not."
UM and the accused former coaches have 90 days to respond to the accusations. Hearings with the NCAA's Committee on Infractions would come next followed by the penalty phase and a potential appeal.
Shalala called for the no further sanctions in light of the misdeeds and self-imposed postseason bans the football program took the last two seasons.
NCAA compliance expert John Infante doesn't necessarily agree with the public relations strategy Shalala is taking.
"It doesn't surprise me, but it's not what I would have done," said Infante, a former compliance officer and author of the Bylaw Blog. "I would have filed an abuse of process lawsuit now to gain leverage or I would keep quiet, raise my objections through the response, hearing and appeal, then sue immediately afterwards if I did not like the outcome."
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