Rightly so, Paul Dee has been skewered by both the media and fans — and in one case a conference commissioner — in the days since Yahoo! blew the lid off alleged rampant corruption involving current and former members of the Miami football and basketball programs.
Dee was the athletic director during most of Nevin Shapiro’s eight-year run of booster benevolence that began in late 2001/early 2002 and could end with program-shaking sanctions. Dee was also the chair of the NCAA Committee on Infractions that slapped severe sanctions on USC because of allegations so serious it forced Dee to chastise the university with his infamous “high-profile players demand high-profile compliance.”
As it turns out, USC wasn’t the only institution on the receiving end of one of Dee’s sanctimonious sermons served from his bully pulpit.
Long Beach State president F. King Alexander found himself, along with other university officials, in front of a Dee-led COI hearing in 2007 to answer allegations of irregularities in their basketball program. The president recalled the hearing to the Long Beach Press-Telegram recently, saying that his group was the subject of, as the paper writes it, a “lecture… in a most condescending manner” from Dee.
“Dee told us, `You have to put in place the kind of institutional control we have at Miami‘,” Alexander said, a thought the Press-Telegram notes was relayed with irritation.
The Dee anecdote was just one of many from a diatribe by Alexander on the current state of the NCAA. Hell, even Nebraska wasn’t safe from the president’s pointed words, all of which come back to just two: nauseating hypocrisy.
“And one of the other members of the NCAA Infractions Committee in that hearing was from Nebraska. On that same day, six Nebraska athletes were arrested for illegally selling sporting apparel,” Alexander continued.
“The hypocrisy of the NCAA makes me sick. To allow institutions like Miami and Nebraska to chair and oversee its infractions committee is like putting foxes in charge of the henhouse.”
Interestingly, Alexander also has somewhat of a connection to the current Miami mess.
“You must understand that in 2005 when I was president at Murray State, I fired our football coach, Joe Pannunzio, because of numerous incidents that occurred in our program under him that were quite bad,” Alexander said. “Well, Pannunzio immediately was hired by Miami, and he’s one of the coaches who’s been prominently mentioned by Shapiro in the current scandal. He’s now the head of football operations at Alabama.”
Pannunzio was named in the damning Yahoo! report as someone who, while an assistant coach at Miami, “had a close relationship with Shapiro and facilitated the booster having improper contact with recruits.” Shapiro refused to speak on or off the record regarding the Pannunzio allegations uncovered by Yahoo!.
Another former Miami assistant, Jeff Stoutland, is also on Nick Saban‘s Alabama staff, serving as the Tide’s offensive line coach after being hired in January.
Saban addressed Thursday the two new members of the program allegedly involved in the South Beach scandal, and said the two were thoroughly vetted prior to their hirings.
“I know what goes on in this program and I know that we do things correctly,” Saban said. “We do have people in this organization, who worked there (at Miami). Before those people were ever hired here we do an NCAA check to make sure they pass all compliance criteria and that they don’t have any red flags relative to compliance history.
“We certainly did that in both of these cases. Now, if any of these people had any wrongdoing, I’m sure the NCAA will investigate it in due time and, if they did anything wrong, I’m sure they will get the appropriate punishment, which we would do if we had any internal problems in our organization. But we’re going to continue and control and manage what we do in our organization and do it correctly, and that’s basically all we can be concerned about.”
Getting back to the broader issue of NCAA hypocrisy when it comes to enforcement and the individuals involved with levying sanctions, the bigger question becomes how to clean up the rightly-held perception of that part of collegiate athletics. What seems to be the only option also happens to be the best: the NCAA needs to hire independent arbitrators to replace the current members of the COI — who, like Dee, are employed by individual institutions as their full-time jobs — and allow them to independently conduct the hearings that determine sanctions.
Simply put, a Paul Dee-led NCAA COI slamming sanctions on an institution like USC simply cannot happen again, especially when one of the member’s own athletic house was allegedly in disarray at the time. The NCAA is rolling in enough hypocrisy because of that case and the subsequent fallout at Miami to last a lifetime, and it needs to ensure that’s never again an issue.
(Tip O’ the Cap for the Alexander link to Jon Solomon)