Miami accused of lack of control by NCAA, ESPN reports

February 20, 2013

The University of Miami has been accused by the Indianapolis-based National Collegiate Athletic Association of failing to control its athletic department, ESPN reported, citing an unidentified person familiar with the situation.

Miami released a prepared statement Tuesday night in which it said many of the allegations included in the notice from college sports’ governing body were unsubstantiated.

ESPN said the lack-of-institutional-control charge is because Miami failed to properly monitor Nevin Shapiro, a Hurricanes booster who has said he provided cash and benefits, such as cars and yacht rides, to at least 72 Miami athletes between 2002 and 2010. The charge is among the most serious the NCAA can bring after an investigation into rules violations.

Shapiro was convicted in 2010 of running a Ponzi scheme that involved former Indianapolis developer Sydney “Jack” Williams, who was sentenced to one year in prison in January 2012 after pleading guilty to failing to report millions of dollars he received in commissions related to the scheme.

NCAA officials have declined to comment on the notice of allegations, which was delivered one day after the NCAA fired its head of enforcement because a review found internal rules were violated during the probe into Miami’s athletic program. While the review found the NCAA didn’t do anything illegal, staff members disregarded legal advice while using Shapiro’s criminal defense attorney and a federal bankruptcy process to obtain information.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said two days ago that any information obtained through those “embarrassing” actions would be expunged from its investigation of Miami.

Miami President Donna Shalala said Tuesday night that many of the charges in the NCAA’s notice are “based on the word of a man who made a fortune by lying.” She said the NCAA failed to interview “essential witnesses,” including former Athletic Director Paul Dee.

“Most of the sensationalized media accounts of Shapiro’s claims are found nowhere in the notice of allegations,” Shalala said. “Despite their efforts over 2-1/2 years, the NCAA enforcement staff could not find evidence of prostitution, expensive cars for players, expensive dinners paid for by boosters, player bounty payments, rampant alcohol and drug use, or the alleged hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts given to student-athletes, as reported in the media. The fabricated story played well — the facts did not.”

Miami said it will submit an official response to the NCAA’s committee on infractions within the required 90-day period. Shalala said the school has improved its compliance oversight and that self-imposed sanctions, including a two-year bowl ban for the football team, are sufficient.

“For any rule violation — substantiated and proven with facts — that the university, its employees, or student-athletes committed, we have been and should be held accountable,” Shalala said. “We deeply regret any violations, but we have suffered enough.”

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