NCAA finds ‘missteps, insufficient oversight’ from enforcement staff

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The results of the NCAA’s external investigation into misconduct related to the Miami case are in. As expected, they’re none too pretty.

In a release, and according to the report from the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, NCAA announced “select… enforcement staff acted contrary to internal protocols, legal counsel and the membership’s understanding about the limits of its investigative powers in the University of Miami case…”

Specifically, the review, which can be read in its entirety HERE, summarizes that former NCAA Director of Enforcement Ameen Najjar was told by Nevin Shapiro‘s attorney, Maria Elena Perez, that she could depose witnesses, who had ties to the Miami investigation, in a bankruptcy case in exchange for compensation. Najjar took that proposal to Vice President of Enforcement, Julie Roe Lach, and Managing Director of Enforcement, Tom Hosty, where it was given the green light.

However, the NCAA’s legal staff did not recommend the proposal, but Najjar went through with a “way around” plan despite the legal staff’s advice. Lach and Hosty did not follow-up with the legal staff to ensure the “way around” — which was based on the idiocy “rationale” that Perez would not be “hired” or “retained” but somehow paid — was acceptable. It wasn’t until after Najjar left the NCAA when Perez sent invoices for a budget of $57,000 (she was ultimately paid $18,000) that the enforcement staff apparently became aware* the legal staff had not approved the proposal.

(*eyeroll)

Lach was recently fired by the NCAA, according to a report from Yahoo! Jonathan Duncan will serve as interim VP of Enforcement.

Interestingly enough, Miami counsel knew of the Perez proposal before it went to NCAA supervisors for approval and expressed their concerns to Najjar in fall, 2011. When asked during the 2 p.m. teleconference on Monday why Miami did not make issue out of this clear disregard of protocol, NCAA president Mark Emmert said UM “did not want to appear uncooperative or to look like they were standing in the way of truth”

Going forward, the NCAA has stated it will proceed with the Miami investigation — obviously without the information obtained by Perez. As for any sort of additional, individual accountability, the NCAA states it “will engage the membership to probe broader, philosophical questions about the nature of the regulatory side, including the desired outcome of regulation and to what level the membership wants to be held accountable. The review will include enforcement, eligibility, reinstatement and the waiver processes.”

Emmert said on his teleconference he has no reason to believe similar missteps have occurred in previous investigations.