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NCAA admits it made errors during Miami probe

  • Article by: MICHAEL MAROT
  • Associated Press
  • January 24, 2013 - 7:10 AM

INDIANAPOLIS - The latest black eye for college sports belongs to the NCAA.

In an embarrassing blow to its watchdog image, the NCAA said Wednesday its enforcement staff had botched the high-profile investigation of the University of Miami by improperly conducting at least two depositions while working with an attorney for disgraced booster Nevin Shapiro. Miami has been under investigation since the convicted Ponzi scheme mastermind said he had provided improper benefits to Hurricanes recruits.

President Mark Emmert said he was disappointed and angry with the misstep, acknowledging he had not seen anything like this since taking the NCAA job 2 1/2 years ago. He said some "people" involved in this case were no longer working for the NCAA, though he declined to say who they were or whether they had been fired.

He said none of the evidence collected improperly would be used against Miami and that the long-awaited notice of allegations would be delayed until after an external review is completed in approximately two weeks.

It was an ugly stumble for the NCAA, coming less than a week after its annual convention resulted in another round of reforms intended to firm up recruiting rules and other guidelines. And it comes as the organization faces more than a half-dozen lawsuits that could reshape how it does business, including one challenging the $60 million in penalties levied against Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Emmert tried to reassure schools that the principle of playing by the rules extends into NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.

"We can't just say it, we've got to do it," he said. "While I have great confidence in the vast majority of cases, when you have something as candidly dramatic as this, you can't just offer words, you have to demonstrate that you're getting this right. The reason I wanted to get this out is to make sure that this is right. We want to hold ourselves to the same standards we hold others to."

The external review will be conducted by former Justice Department official Kenneth L. Wainstein. He will focus on Miami's case, but he will have the authority to investigate the NCAA's actions in additional cases, too.

Regarding the Miami case, Emmert said the attorney for Shapiro was used to "to improperly obtain information ... through a bankruptcy proceeding that did not involve the NCAA."

The NCAA does not have subpoena power. At least one of the people deposed by attorney Maria Elena Perez as part of Shapiro's bankruptcy case appeared under subpoena, and his testimony would not have been otherwise available to NCAA investigators.

Miami has been bracing for the arrival of its notice of allegations, and now it must wait longer for the external review.

"As we have done since the beginning, we will continue to work with the NCAA and now with their outside investigator hoping for a swift resolution of the investigation and our case," Miami President Donna Shalala said.

WHAT'S NEXT

An external review conducted by former Justice Department official Kenneth L. Wainstein. He'll focus on the University of Miami case.

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