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Sen. Joe Abruzzo to FL Attorney General Pam Bondi: investigate NCAA 'abuse of power' in UM case

State Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, wants Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to investigate the NCAA for its tainted investigation into the University of Miami. Abruzzo, who doesn't look like he attended UM, cc'd U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in the following letter:

I respectfully request that your office begin an investigation into the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) actions during its probe of the University of Miami’s athletic program.

NCAA Enforcement Staff violated its own rules and engaged in corrupt behavior in an attempt to manufacture misdeeds against the University of Miami. In so doing, the NCAA has demonstrated a lack of institutional control and may have engaged in unfair trade practices in violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), Chapter 501, Florida Statutes. Since your office is the enforcing authority of FDUTPA, I am requesting that the NCAA’s admitted wrongdoing be investigated immediately before the NCAA’s witch hunt against the University of Miami causes further damage.

Among other acts of wrongdoing, the NCAA was so desperate to gather evidence against the University of Miami that it made improper payments to a convicted con artist and his lawyer for information that it was not allowed to obtain. The NCAA, which does not have subpoena power, paid thousands of dollars to the con artist’s lawyer to gain subpoenaed witness testimony in a bankruptcy case, so that the forbidden information could be used in its investigation. Not only does this abuse the bankruptcy process, but it clearly circumvented the limits of the NCAA’s authority. All of these improper activities occurred in South Florida, within the jurisdiction of your economic crimes division.

In addition, the NCAA advised potential witnesses that their silence would be interpreted as validating the claims of the criminal, Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro. This unethical behavior and lack of due process by the NCAA should not be tolerated in our State.

The NCAA’s admittedly corrupt investigation has now dragged on for more than two years, and the University of Miami has suffered through this abuse of power. While the NCAA has been paying off a criminal and his lawyer for forbidden fruit, the University of Miami has tried to work cooperatively with the NCAA and has even self-imposed serious sanctions that included a two-year bowl ban and a conference football championship game.

I strongly feel that the NCAA’s abuse of power and payoffs must be scrutinized to the fullest extent, especially considering the NCAA’s role as a regulatory institution of more than 400,000 students across the nation. Thank you for your consideration.


Senator Joseph Abruzzo

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