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4 posts from January 23, 2013

January 23, 2013

Bylaw Blog writer weighs in on UM case after NCAA bombshell drops Wednesday

After Wednesday's bombshell fell from the lips of NCAA President Mark Emmert, I reached out to our friend John Infante, a former compliance officer at NCAA Division I schools who runs the Bylaw Blog.

Infante's expertise has been featured on ESPN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and numerous other media outlets. Keep in mind he isn't privy to the information the NCAA has on Miami. He simply is giving his opinion based on what he's read from published reports and heard today.

Here is the transcript of my 20 minute, one-on-one Q&A with him today:

Q: How does this affect Miami? Most people assume here that the NCAA admitting its made mistakes in the investigation will be positive for Miami. Some think they might even just settle.

"It definitely will be positive. But I think people -- when they think positive -- it's significantly reduced sanctions. To me, that remains to be seen. I know President Emmert said in his press conference that this affected only a small portion of the information in the case. They still have to go through and find out exactly which allegations or specific violations [can't be used]. I don't know how much the NCAA follows the fruit of the [poisonous] tree doctrine -- which basically says if you gather information you wouldn't otherwise have gotten without the use of an improper lead, you can't use that new information either. But anything the NCAA cannot corroborate is helpful for Miami. The fewer student-athletes, the fewer former coaches, the less money, the fewer violations involved the better the case will be [for UM]. The question now is if it is going to better enough to result in a significantly different set of penalties."

Q: A lot of the investigative reports -- including Yahoo!'s -- came from the depositions and information through Shapiro's lawyer Maria Elena Perez. How could the NCAA still have much of a case if you have to wipe out whatever Shapiro's lawyer was involved with?

"Again, you have to wonder if the NCAA could have gotten this another way. It could be they look through their reports -- I don't know who makes this determination the law firm or the NCAA -- but they may say, 'We got this through this [improper] deposition, but then here's the other document we obtained properly that has the same information in it.' So I think you balance it with the idea that they wouldn't try to get subpeona power unless what they got was a game changer or real effective. The extreme [position] that the whole case is going to be gone, the NCAA certainly doesn't sound like the whole case is going to be gone. It sounds like something significant is still there... I think there is a big range -- in the middle -- of what exactly the case was going to look like. Frankly, the other problem is we don't know what the case would have looked like before. We know what Yahoo!'s case would have been and other media outlet's cases would have been. But nobody knows exactly, specifically what the NCAA has been able to corroborate given this abusive power. So, it's tough to know what was knocked out when we aren't even sure what's going to be in there in the first place."

Q: Worst day in NCAA history in terms of them policing themselves?

"As President Emmert said they've had better days. It's certainly up there. It's certainly one of the darkest days in NCAA history in terms of its investigative power. The thing to remember is that in these kind of scandals with the NCAA's investigative process that have come out in the last year -- Todd McNair's defamation case; the Shabazz Muhammad case and now this -- the NCAA has been accused of not following its own rules. One of the responses might be that the NCAA just had some bad seeds and 'we're going to clear out the bad apples that spoil the bunch. We're going to clear out the staff and we're going to have more money to bring in professional investigators and move on from there.' I think the real kind of devastating thing [for the NCAA] is if the courts say you followed procedure to a T and we're still ruling that improper. Then, that calls into question the entire way the NCAA does it's business rather than the idea that investigator or that investigator went rogue. The NCAA is dealing with the same sort of problems athletic departments deal with. There is a violation; now we got to find out what it is and fix it. Did the coach go rogue? Did the investigator go rogue? Did we fail to monitor? I know people are making jokes about it. People have asked me: 'Why would something like this happen?' Coaches are expected to deliver results and they cut corner sometimes. I think in a public case like this --- where the public says 'We had all the facts 15 months ago why isn't Miami punished yet?' -- there is that pressure to get your man, to deliver a result. Well, there would be pressure in that case also for an investigator to cut a corner."

Q: Isn't this unprecedented, the NCAA admitting it made a mistake before a notice of allegations isn't even sent?

"Yes. The leak of info with [UCLA basketball player] Shabazz Muhammad, we found out about that after he had been ruled ineligible and while they were appealing. It was kind of mid-process whereas this is kind of right before [the NOA]. In terms of how it helps Miami, I don't know if procedurally it really does [help] because you would hope that if the NOA went out and then the NCAA [did what it did Wednesday the NOA] would be pulled back and the NCAA would be doing exactly what it is doing now, which is pulling back and seeing what information should be in there and then re-doing the notice of allegations with the info it should have. Really, what it does is it delays [the case], but it doesn't delay it as long [as it could have been] because the NCAA would have had to restart its 90-day timeline. It sounds like the NCAA is fairly confident they can turn this around quickly. They're saying this is a delay of weeks rather than months. In terms of the timing of it, I really don't think its helpful for Miami in terms of what the penalties will be. I think it prevents a really long case from being delayed longer than it is now."

Q: Some people are thinking Miami can pounce here legally and say -- you fired these investigators, you went about this the wrong way, whole thing is a sham -- can Miami do anything here to put pressure on the NCAA that would help solve this case faster and lessen the penalties?

"That's tricky for all the parties involved because you are still down by the cooperative principal. You still have to cooperate with the NCAA's investigation. For Miami [to sue or fight it] that's a very high risk maneuver. Everything in this case has suggested that up until now they're not really putting up a fight. They might be exhausting their options to defend themselves, not digging in their heels to fight it every step of the way. I think the more likely scenario is Miami lets this play out and if the sanctions or the findings that come out of the committee on infractions' final report are excessive, I think that's the point Miami picks up on this and uses [Wednesday's announcement] as grounds for a lawsuit. Miami doesn't look like it's going to fight it like that. They're more likely to appeal anything now. But in terms of suing the NCAA that's always a drastic step. Very few schools have done it. It's generally individuals. As far as the individual coaches, a lot of them are still employed and working. If they had been fired or not working I think they would be much more likely to pounce on this and try to get themselves detached and the case thrown out. But since they're working, I think it's going to be more of a wait and see what their penalties are and if it harms their career. I can almost guarantee there will be a couple lawsuits against the NCAA trying to say this whole thing, none of it is proper."

Q: The NCAA is going to a new enforcement system in August. Can they avoid these similar problems from happening again?

"The new system doesn't really address what happens here. The new system is really more about penalties. It doesn't address how cases get to this point. Depending on the outcome of this external review -- and kudos for the NCAA being up front about it, talking about it publicly let's hope this continues -- I think this leads to a whole new initiative. This is not an isolated issue. This is kind of the third incident. Fool me once shame on you; full me twice shame on me. Three times is a trend. I do think it requires a big change. What that change is it's tough to say. I think the NCAA may take a more serious look at what people are calling them to do which is handing off investigations to third parties or creating an internal affairs unit. If this is a result of public pressure and an underfunded, undermanned enforcement staff, I'm not necessarily sure those things will fix the problem long term other than creating the same type of cycle where schools get caught, clean things up, fall off a little bit and break rules again. The NCAA isn't in a position or the public standing to keep things the same way. They have to come up with something to address this problem long term to sort of regain any public trust."

Q: Gut feeling in the end: Does Miami gets off easier?

"At this point I would be shocked about another post-season ban. I also would be surprised to see crippling scholarship penalties. I do think they will be let off a little easier than they would have been. The biggest challenge now for the NCAA is to explain [to other school] in a way that Miami didn't get a break on a technicality. That won't sit well with people either."

Sources: FSU's Coley weighing whether or not to take Canes' vacant offensive coordinator job

Florida State offensive coordinator James Coley could be on the verge of turning in the garnet and gold for green and orange.

ColeyMultiple sources close to Coley told The Miami Herald Wednesday afternoon the 39-year old Miami High and FSU graduate has been in discussions with University of Miami coach Al Golden to fill the Hurricanes' vacant play-caller position. Coley has told several people close to him he's been offered the job and is now weighing the whether to take it or not.

Coley, who makes $390,000 to prepare the game plans for the Seminoles before head coach Jimbo Fisher calls the plays on game days, was offered $500,000 to become UM's next offensive coordinator a source told our Barry Jackson. The source said while FSU matched the offer, Fisher is not willing to give up his play-calling duties.

Coley was offered the offensive coordinator position at Kentucky last month, but turned it down. He's been looking to get the opportunity to call plays on gameday.

Former UM offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch left the team over the weekend for the same position with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Coley called plays for FIU in Mario Cristobal's first season as coach in 2007 and then moved to FSU where he's worked as the tight ends coach, recruiting coordinator and most recently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. 

Coley has always had strong recruiting ties to South Florida throughout his career and his addition to UM's staff would be a boon two weeks before signing day.

At Miami High from 1998-2000, Coley coached Roscoe Parrish and Andre Johnson. He then served as the offensive coordinator at Miami Norland when Dwyane Bowe and the Vikings won a state title in 2002. He was then a grad assistant at LSU under Nick Saban for two years before moving onto the Dolphins with him for two more years. At FIU, the Golden Panthers finished just 1-11, but were coming off an 0-12 season and were in the process of rebuilding when Coley left for the Seminoles.

NCAA admits wrongdoing in investigation into UM; with audio of Emmert press conference

The NCAA dropped a bombshell Wednesday afternoon, admitting it improperly obtained information through Nevin Shapiro's lawyer for the purposes of its investigation into alleged violations by the University of Miami's football and men's basketball programs.

NCAA President Mark Emmert told reporters in a national teleconference that college sports governing body has hired outside council to investigate its findings and will not move forward with a Notice of Allegations toward UM or any parties involved until it is completed.

Using phrases such as "grossly in appropriate" and "shocking," Emmert said the NCAA must sift through the information improperly obtained and throw it out. He said he hopes that process doesn't take any longer than a week to two weeks.

"We can’t have the NCAA bringing forward allegations collected by processes no one can stand for," Emmert said. "We have to go through all of the evidence to determine what has and has not been appropriately collected and influenced by improper conduct. One of the questions that has to be answered is 'What was the nature of that contractual arrangement [with Nevin Shapiro's lawyer Maria Elena Perez]? What was all the activity that she was involved with? How did this individual engage in these activities on our behalf?"

Because the NCAA does not have subpoena power, Emmert said NCAA investigators improperly used Shapiro's lawyer to depose individuals and question them in Shapiro's bankruptcy case. Emmert said the NCAA didn't learn until recently it had been going about its investigation this way -- despite multiple reports in many publications including The Miami Herald.

How did the NCAA learn investigators had been acting inappropriately? Receipts turned in by investigators for legal work by Perez, Emmert said.

Asked if this could be a mistrial and help Miami, Emmert responded: "It's premature to answer that question... This is a shocking affair."


UM President Donna Shalala released the following statement moments ago in reaction to the NCAA's findings. 

“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. In addition to encouraging current and former staff members and student-athletes to cooperate with investigators, we have provided thousands of documents to the enforcement staff.

"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.

"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.

"I want to thank our community for their continued support and patience. Stand with the U.”

Mike James gets a late invite to Saturday's Senior Bowl

Didn't get a chance to pass this along earlier because I was working the phones, but Canes running back Mike James has been invited as a late addition for Saturday's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

James, replacing injured Clemson running back Andre Ellington on the South roster, will be the 63rd Miami Hurricane to play in the Senior Bowl and the first Canes running back since Cleveland Gary in 1989.

It will be James' second postseason college bowl invite; the Haines City, Fla., native rushed for 21 yards in the 2013 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl held on Jan. 19 in Carson, Calif.

James started all 12 games at running back for the Hurricanes in 2012, finishing as the team’s second-leading rusher with 642 yards and six touchdowns. He piled up 1,386 rushing yards and 17 TDs, while catching 67 passes for 585 yards and five touchdowns in his career. He was one of 11 FBS players named to the 2012 AFCA Allstate Good Works Team in September.

Kickoff Saturday is set for 4 p.m. The game will be televised on the NFL Network.


> Be sure to follow our Michelle Kaufman for all updates on tonight's big Canes-Duke basketball game. Canesport.com reported earlier today that several big time recruits will be attending the game, set for a 7 p.m. tipoff. Among those expected in the crowd: Booker T. Washington linebacker Matthew Thomas, South Plantation running back Alex Collins, Oakland Park Northeast receiver Stacy Coley, Northwestern safety Artie Burns, Southridge safety Jamal Carter and Ely cornerback Rashard Robinson. Yes, there will also be tributes and moments of silence during the game for legendary baseball coach Ron Fraser

> Miramar linebacker Jermaine Grace, who was originally set to make his college announcement on Tuesday, will now make it sometime next week according to his coach Damon Cogdell. Louisville, whom Grace visited last weekend, is taking advantage of the extra time with an in-home visit this week. Cogdell said the delay is due to the fact he's working with producers to get Grace's announcement made on television.