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University reps, NCAA gather for official hearing

Nearly three years into an alleged improper benefits investigation that shook the UM community and athletic department, the NCAA is finally forming a verdict.
President Donna E. Shalala, football coach Al Golden and other university representatives gathered in Indianapolis on June 14 for the official hearing.
But the scandal has proved troublesome for Miami, rogue booster Nevin Shapiro and the NCAA alike.
The governing body itself was mired in controversy several months back, when members of the NCAA enforcement staff who sought information about the alleged rampant misconduct at UM had to face questions about their own unethical behavior.
The NCAA placed its investigation into the Miami athletic department on hold, and turned its attention to the association’s own staff.
Several former employees apparently worked with the criminal defense attorney for Shapiro to obtain information during an unrelated bankruptcy proceeding. Shapiro, who said he doled out thousands of impermissible benefits to several dozen athletes, prompted the NCAA’s investigation in the first place.
The NCAA does not have subpoena power, meaning the information it gained through Shapiro’s attorney would not have been otherwise accessible.
“To say the least, I am angered and saddened by this situation,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a teleconference at the time. “Trust and credibility are essential to our regulatory tasks. My intent is to ensure our investigatory functions operate with integrity and are fair and consistent with our member schools, athletics staff and most importantly our student-athletes.”
Similarly, UM President Donna E. Shalala released a statement to express her discontent.
“Since the University first alerted the NCAA to the possibility of violations more than two years ago, we have been cooperative and compliant with the NCAA and, I believe, a model for how institutions should partner with NCAA staff during investigations,” the statement read. “I am frustrated, disappointed and concerned by President Emmert’s announcement today that the integrity of the investigation may have been compromised by the NCAA staff.”
The university received its notice of allegations from the NCAA Feb. 20, as did former Hurricanes coaches who violated ethical conduct rules during their time at the school.
Despite the dismissal of a reported 20 percent of the evidence against Miami – including interviews with two close acquaintances of  Shapiro – the school was charged with a lack of institutional control.
The NCAA enforcement committee was found to have improperly obtained the aforementioned evidence, a lapse in protocol Emmert called “an embarrassment to the association and our staff.”
Miami had 90 days to officially respond to its notice of allegations.
Shalala remained steadfast throughout that the university should face no further punitive measures.
“We have worked hard to improve our compliance oversight, and we have already self-imposed harsh sanctions,” Shalala said in a statement, referring to two football bowl game forfeitures and several scholarship reductions. “We deeply regret any violations, but we have suffered enough.”
Plus, the university went on the offensive, calling into question the legitimacy of an NCAA investigation that lacked integrity and thoroughness.
“Most of the sensationalized media accounts of Shapiro’s claims are found nowhere in the notice of allegations,” Shalala said. “The fabricated story played well – the facts did not.”
The NCAA Committee on Infractions will likely take six to eight weeks to reach a verdict and hand out penalties. Visit themiamihurricane.com for the latest on this investigation as more information becomes available.

June 21, 2013

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Spencer Dandes


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