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NCAA Blog Part 2: Shalala, Blake James, Committee of Infractions chair react on UM case

Updated at 12:30 p.m.: Here's what UM president Donna Shalala told our Michelle Kaufman by phone:

"Obviously, we’re happy that we finally heard from the infractions committee. We believe we had a very fair hearing with them. And while we would have preferred just to get the sanctions we already imposed, having read the report and gone through the hearing, I think what they gave us was fair.’’

“Certainly the athletic department suffered. The recruiting was directly affected by both the infractions and failure to obey the rules by our own coaches and student-athletes and our admission of those failures.

"As both Jim Larranaga and Al Golden have reported, recruiting was directly affected. Since I’m involved in the recruiting process for all the student-athletes, I can tell you the parents asked about it. So, I think, more than anything else, the athletic program suffered greatly as much by the timeline as anything else. But we were responsible, and it was very clear we broke NCAA rules and we admitted that and were penalized appropriately for it. “I haven’t felt any particular stress. I’ve been through much worse than this. But I have felt badly for our community and I think for many people in the athletic department and supporters very difficult. I have a bigger job. We just have to get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other and not obsess about when the NCAA was going to report. I am very happy for our entire community that this is done.’’

“No one likes to be criticized, but I’m sort of used to being criticized. I’ve been in public life for a very long period of time. I don’t take it personally. I know people have our best interest at heart and people were disgusted and upset. It’s part of the responsibility of a leader to take both the praise and the criticism. I don’t criticize  our fans. I understand their passion for the game, our program and the university and I want them to continue to have that passion, even when they’re mad at us.’’
“We’ve learned the best compliance system in the world can’t substitute for the good judgment of the personnel that you hire. People need to follow through on their instincts. We thought we had a very good compliance system in place.After all, we had the chairman of the NCAA Infractions Committee (Paul Dee) as our athletic director. And we had a very tough football coach and a good strong basketball coach with a good reputation, and a president who watches out for these things, and it still slipped through.  We will all go back and think about what we missed and when we missed it. More than anything else, I think we’ve learned a lot about things we needed to add, but changing the culture where people are comfortable calling us to turn things in. If you read the report, there are some very important lessons there. It’s not just having the system in place, but having the right people in place and never letting your guard down.

“I apologize to our fans, our community that this happened in the first place and we’re just got to be on a path to continuous improvement. Already doing that, but the culture has to be one in which anyone – always the cover up gets you in trouble – who commits and infraction calls us and checking and taking appropriate punishment. What we can’t do is delay and be afraid we’re going to fired if we turn ourselves in.’’

UM A.D. Blake James said UM has self-imposed scholarships -- he declined to say how many -- but hasn't told the NCAA yet. He said he will tell NCAA now and see if any will count toward the 9 UM was docked. But UM won't appeal regardless. He said the 9 can be allocated any way over the next three years. Al Golden will decide the mechanics of that.


Highlights from the UM/NCAA conference call with Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky, the chairman of the committee on infractions:


### He said the case did not include information improperly gathered by the NCAA, but that the NCAA’s misconduct wasn’t taken into account in deciding penalties. 


### Banowsky reeled off a long list of UM violations at the start of the call, noting Nevin Shapiro “entertained [players] on his yacht, at nightclubs. He provided a significant amount of cash [to Vince Wilfork, among others] to sign with a sports agency of which he was a part owner.”


### Banowsky criticized former UM coach Frank Haith, without using his name: “He had a repsonsibility to promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program, which includes [expectation] to monitor. He failed in this responsibility.”


### He emphasized that “the committee did not rely solely on the statements of the booster. The vast majority of the statements made by the booster were corroborated. Morever, the institution and the counsel were in agreement most of violations occurred.”


### He said the “committee appreciates [UM’s] patience and cooperation.”


### But he blamed UM for not having a effective system in place to detect Shapiro’s behavior. That system wasn’t “effectively conveyed or monitored, which contributed to them going undetected.”


### He said UM’s previous self-imposed penalties helped a LOT. “The committee accepted the significance of the penalties the institution imposed on its football program. These penalties were severe and the unprecedented access [provided by] the university were taken into account. The self imposed penalties represented an indication by the university that they were taking the case very seriously. It understood it needed to respond internally. For the university to step up to impose these bowl bans is a big deal – very big deal. The fact it also prevented an ACC championship game which potentially could have led to a BCS bowl game were very big decisions – the committee appreciated those decisions.”


### He called this case “among the most extraordinary in the history of the NCAA.”


### He said “the penalties were severe for former coaches. We did lay a lot of responsibility onto the individuals in the case. It’s going to be a subject of ongoing discussion among Division 1 membership how to allocate responsibility” to coaches compared to institutions.


### On the NCAA’s misconduct: “I know the COI was disappointed to learn of the use of bankruptcy proceedings to learn information. It didn’t factor into the penalties.”


### In docking UM nine scholarships, why is the NCAA essentially taking away $700,000 in free education for students (factoring in UM’s high tuition, etc.)? “It’s in the legislation," Banowsky responded. "The membership passes the legislations and what are appropriate penalties and are not. Our responsibilities are to the Division 1 membership.”


### Why did it take 19 weeks since UM’s hearing for a ruling? “Typically we’re able to turn around reports in a 6 to 8 week period. Unfortunately, the case not only lasted 3 plus years but also had a lot of complexities that were extraordinary. The sheer volume of the case was enormous. Our first responsibility is do the best we can to understand the case record and get it right. We had to come up with a process to make sure information gathered [improperly] wasn’t included in the case record. Once we did our work understanding, and the basis for those findings, we didn’t consider the staff’s misconduct."


### On USC being docked 30 scholarships, compared to Miami’s 12 (nine football, three basketball): “Each case is unique. Folks with have a difference of opinion depending on your perspective. We don’t put cases against each other because of the unique nature of each case. We felt institutional self imposed penalties were absolultely significant, unprecedented, and the level of cooperation was commendable. That weighed into the committee’s thinking. We don’t do a great deal of comparative analysis.”


### On Haith and others offering conflicting testimony: “It was difficult for the committee and the enforcement staff to know what was really going on given all the conflicting information. We felt we had a responsiblity to review that and to publish that because it was information that ultimately required us to draw conclusions.”