Miami officials attend Day 2 of NCAA hearing on infractions involving improper benefits

  • Updated: June 14, 2013 - 7:35 PM

Donna Shalala

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INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA hearings to determine if the University of Miami committed major infractions involving former booster Nevin Shapiro ended Friday after 16 1/2 hours over two days. The Committee on Infractions typically releases its report six to eight weeks after a hearing, though there is a chance that the Hurricanes may have to wait longer before hearing their fate.

"I know everybody's glad to get it to this point," said Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford, who has steadfastly supported Miami throughout the investigation. "Everybody will also be glad when it's fully culminated and hopefully that will be sooner rather than later. Certainly the hope would be prior to the beginning of another football season. It's been an extraordinary long investigation."

The NCAA alleges improper benefits went to 72 players, three recruits and 12 "friends and family members." The improper benefits, including cash, memorabilia, strip-club outings, yacht rides and even paid for prostitutes, were distributed between 2002-10. Shapiro is serving a 20-year sentence for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

The NCAA began its investigations in 2011. Virtually all of the individuals who were named by Shapiro in claims published by Yahoo Sports in August 2011 are no longer at the university, and several people the NCAA wanted to talk refused to cooperate.

"I think it is (a relief) for everybody involved," Swofford said. "I've said before, I think the sheer length of the investigation has been a penalty in itself."

The Hurricanes have already imposed penalties on themselves. Miami's football team has missed three postseason games — two bowl games and what would have been an appearance in last season's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game — in response to the investigation.

Football coach Al Golden has said he is holding back a number of scholarships from the 2013 roster and eight players were suspended during the 2011 season for varying lengths because of their involvement with Shapiro. Golden has said many times in recent months that he's eager for this process to finally end.

Three basketball players were also suspended during the 2011-12 season, including DeQuan Jones, whose recruitment is a major part of the case.

Shapiro said that he paid $10,000 to help Miami's recruitment of Jones, a claim that The Associated Press learned is not specifically listed in the allegations against the Hurricanes. But the NCAA did allege that former men's basketball assistant Jake Morton received at least $6,000 in supplemental income from Shapiro between October 2007 and October 2008, and as part of Miami's response to that allegation, the Hurricanes were also instructed to provide a complete overview of how Jones was recruited.

School President Donna Shalala, Swofford, Golden, men's basketball coach Jim Larranaga and athletic director Blake James were in attendance at a downtown Indianapolis hotel for the proceedings. Former football assistants Clint Hurtt and Aubrey Hill were present Thursday, then met with the committee Friday morning and left at 11:15 a.m.

All Miami officials, Hurtt, Hill and committee chair Britton Banowsky declined comment. Neither Golden nor Larranaga are cited in the notice of allegations that Miami was presented with back in February, but their presence at the hearing was requested by the committee, presumably to discuss how they run their programs and how they have been affected by the cloud that has lingered over the Hurricanes for more than two years.

NCAA President Mark Emmert does not sit on the committee and was not present either day. Former Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt, now at Texas Tech, was not required to attend.

The ordeal was complicated on both sides as the NCAA admitted it botched aspects of the investigation. There were allegations its investigators intimidated witnesses and that they improperly collected information using the subpoena powers of Shapiro's own attorney in a separate bankruptcy case.

Shalala previously called the NCAA probe "unethical and unprofessional" and attempted to have it dismissed. Former NCAA enforcement chief Julie Roe Lach was forced out in March after a report showed the NCAA paid Shapiro attorney Maria Elena Perez more than $19,000 to collect evidence in the case despite objections from the NCAA's legal department and against NCAA rules.

The NCAA does not have subpoena power, and has said it tossed out some details from the notice of allegations against the Hurricanes. Miami does not believe the NCAA has stricken enough, and it has accused the NCAA of using "impermissible and unethical" tactics in interviews with former men's basketball coach Frank Haith and Morton.

Now the waiting begins as the committee creates its report and contemplates further sanctions.

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