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NCAA gives ultimatum to ex-Miami players to talk about Shapiro allegations

Sebastian the Ibis AP

Over the summer, the NCAA took unprecedented steps by giving president Mark Emmert the proverbial keys to Penn State’s fate in the aftermath of the Freeh Report on the university’s (in)action against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Now, and as it relates to the ongoing investigation of Miami’s athletic program, the Association is yet again going a more unconventional, although not unprecedented, route.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the NCAA has mailed letters to former Hurricane players who allegedly committed NCAA violations by accepting impermissible benefits from Shapiro with a clear ultimatum: either talk or non-response will be considered an admission of involvement. Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports was later able to confirm the letters had been sent. Former players must respond by this Friday, Nov. 23 and that’s Black Friday OMG double meaning!

Here’s one letter Jackson was able to obtain (sent to a player’s attorney):

“The purpose of this letter is to apprise you that the NCAA enforcement staff is requesting to schedule an interview with your clients regarding their knowledge of or involvement in possible NCAA violations concerning the University of Miami, Florida, football program.

“Interviewing your clients is important in order for the enforcement staff to conduct a thorough investigation, and both the staff and the institution request you and your clients’ cooperation in this matter. However, at this time, all attempts to schedule and execute interviews with [blank] have been unsuccessful. As a result, this letter serves as a formal and final request by the NCAA enforcement staff for interviews with [blank] to be completed by Nov. 23, 2012.

“If we do not hear back from you or your clients by that time, the staff will consider the non-response as your client’s admission of involvement in NCAA violations. You may contact me at [blank] in order to arrange this interview. Your assistance in this matter is appreciated.”

Sincerely,

Molly Richman,

Assistant Director of Enforcement

A few things here. The NCAA does not have jurisdiction over former athletes, meaning it can’t penalize them personally. The only football players the NCAA can punish are the ones who played for Miami at the time of the investigation. The NCAA’s statute of limitations goes back four years, but does not apply when dealing with what are determined to be “willful violators.”

Shapiro, a former UM booster who is now serving jail time for his role in a Ponzi scheme, alleges that he began providing benefits to players as far back as the early 2000’s. Charles Robinson‘s Yahoo! Sports report identified 72 current and players who received benefits. Eight UM players were ruled ineligible for at least one game last season for accepting gifts from Shapiro.

We’ve linked to NCAA expert John Infante of the Bylaw Blog before, and here’s his take on the situation. According to the NCAA’s Legislative Services Database, “The Committee on Infractions shall base its findings on information presented to it that it determines to be credible, persuasive and of a kind on which reasonably prudent persons rely in the conduct of serious affairs.”

The questions are what evidence does the NCAA have so far, and if the response from former players is silence, are the Shapiro allegations credible enough by themselves to be used against Miami?

Granted, it’s damn-near impossible to think the NCAA has less evidence than what Robinson reported last year. However, this investigation has been going on for a while and the letters indicate the NCAA is still having trouble corroborating all the parts of Shapiro’s story.  So, the NCAA’s enforcement staff is prepared to move forward with a case with the evidence available because, hey, #YOLO #amirite?

It’s amazing that silence from former players could end up costing Miami, but unless the NCAA is able to punish past individuals, these are the kind of steps that will be taken.

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33 Responses to “NCAA gives ultimatum to ex-Miami players to talk about Shapiro allegations”
  1. dalucks says: Nov 21, 2012 10:48 AM

    What happened to innocent until proven guilty? What happened to the NCAA investigation? How can the NCAA take something as fact when the NCAA does not have any proof but only allagations? This sounds like this will go down as an unsolved mystery.

  2. crazycane says: Nov 21, 2012 10:52 AM

    Jeez, this story is spreading like wild fire. Miami will get hit with LOIC because the NCAA can’t justify a 2 year investigation and not give a harsh penalty. Shalalalala will sign off on this along with more scholly losses than fines because she’s a spineless dog who should’ve been one of the first ones FIRED when all this came out. She also LOVES the bowl money but uses it for new parking garages…sort of like the crap Foote did.

    BTW, this letter wasn’t meant to go public and who ever wrote it is in some deep doo doo.

  3. MasMacho says: Nov 21, 2012 10:56 AM

    It’s pretty clear that the U is expecting the hammer (and by all accounts it will be warranted). In the new gleeful world of over-punishing schools, I can’t imagine a scenario where Miami will be allowed to have a competitive football program for a very long time. The only question is whether the NCAA (the protectors of all things related to television revenue) has the gall to punish Miami more severely than Penn State. I would bet a dollar that this debate is raging in the COI right now… whether moral authority warrants more severe action than a direct challenge to their authority, control of revenue and their assertions of the value of amateur athletics.

  4. crazycane says: Nov 21, 2012 11:02 AM

    MasMacho says: Nov 21, 2012 10:56 AM

    It’s pretty clear that the U is expecting the hammer (and by all accounts it will be warranted).

    How is it warranted? You do realize that you are taking the word of a Convicted Ponzi Schemer over that of silence. Silence doesn’t admit guilt in any way, sense or form. This shows the NCAA barely has anything to show for a 2 year investigation.

  5. sparky151 says: Nov 21, 2012 11:10 AM

    If I were the player’s lawyer, I’d respond that Shapiro isn’t a credible source and so far no evidence has been presented that requires any response. My client denies violating any NCAA rules and sees no need for an interview. If you have further questions submit them to me in writing. Unless you have video of Shapiro passing money to my client or cashed checks or testimony by disinterested parties (ie not other former players, boosters, or anyone connected to the university), there is no there there. Have a nice day.

    The NCAA will probably respond with their usual threats to disassociate the former player so he can’t visit practice or stand on the sideline during games. If the player in question happens to be African-American, he should ask the NAACP to protest the NCAA for punishing people without a fair process.

  6. MasMacho says: Nov 21, 2012 11:19 AM

    @Crazycane – we’ll see. (or more correctly, you’ll see). The NCAA has proven repeatedly that it will take the word of an accuser as truth and it is up to the accused to prove themselves innocent. It happened in the case of USC, Ohio State, North Carolina, UCF… much like the NFL, the NCAA will make findings based on its opinions, and then release what it believes to be a credible story to the public.

    The damage to the NCAA has already been done. The Shapiro story itself was a huge embarrassment to the NCAA after having punished UM so severely before, apparently for nothing. I doubt they’ll leave much standing this time, they will make their point whether it is based on truth or it isn’t.

    You are correct, though, that the ONLY public evidence to date has been supplied by the accusers.

    This isn’t a court of law. This is not mediated by an elected judge (or appointed). This is mediated by a voluntary participation system where the rules are made and enforced by people only accountable to themselves.

    Don’t kid yourself about “fair trials” and all that. None of that applies here.

  7. Tim's Neighbor says: Nov 21, 2012 11:20 AM

    Innocent until proven guilty is only in criminal law.

    This isn’t a court room. This isn’t the legal system. It’s voluntary for universities to be in the NCAA. They know the rules when they sign up. If they break rules, there are consequences. It’s hard to figure out what the consequences should be when one side isn’t talking.

    This is why you need to be selective in your recruiting and diligent in your monitoring. And recruits need to be smart about where they go to play because they’ll be associated with that organization for the rest of their lives.

  8. brewcrewfan54 says: Nov 21, 2012 11:22 AM

    This is the NCAA grasping at straws right here. Bully tactics because they aren’t finding the smoking gun as easily as they thought they would.

  9. crazycane says: Nov 21, 2012 11:48 AM

    Macho, I already said the NCAA will hammer Miami. I KNOW the NCAA will hammer Miami. But it won’t be warranted in the sense of what they found as evidence.

    We’re both saying the same thing but going about it differently.

  10. mrdebonair86 says: Nov 21, 2012 11:49 AM

    It’s pretty funny that people seem to think its okay that the NCAA is doing this because its happening to Miami, but had this been their college team, those same people would be outraged.

  11. MasMacho says: Nov 21, 2012 11:55 AM

    @mrdebonair86

    as a tOSU fan, I felt the effects of being similarly “romanced” by the NCAA when they seemed to care little for facts and took the word of criminals and jilted boosters as fact.

    It is much easier to see things clearly when you don’t have a rooting interest. I very much agree with you.

    The NCAA (much like the European Union) will take its cut from all the large programs over time. It is just the U’s turn in the barrel right now.

    Given the violations for which they stand accused, it doesn’t look like it is going to be anything but painful.

  12. thegamecocker says: Nov 21, 2012 12:31 PM

    The NCAA is about as consistent as the weather. Everyone knows that Cam Newton was a athlete looking for the highest bidder. The NCAA knew about his past lack of character at U. of Florida where he cheated in the classroom and stole outside of it. Yet he was given a “clean bill of health” without ever attending a real class. Everything that goes around comes around. Auburn two years short of a bogus NC is about to go 0-8 in the SEC. And Paul Feinbaum is projecting the “esteemed” coach of that team will be terminated after this Saturday’s crushing defeat at Alabama. Knowing the character of Miami “Student”/athletes, my judgement is they committed flagrant penalties re. NCAA rules. That is all. Take your punishment like men.

  13. thraiderskin says: Nov 21, 2012 12:37 PM

    And here is that slippery slope that I (and others) were pointing to with the Penn State situation. So the NCAA is going to demand former players to tell them what they want to hear, with no legal backing, or they are going to take it out on the current University of Miami? This is a terrible abuse of power! If the NCAA has information to condemn the U, that is a different story, but they are trying to force information out of former players that they have no control over. What happens when the NCAA doesn’t get what it wants to hear? This is unbelievable…

  14. xtremesportsmaniac says: Nov 21, 2012 12:52 PM

    If Miami wants this to go away they need to find a way to get into the SEC.

  15. BrownsTown says: Nov 21, 2012 12:59 PM

    About time the NCAA grew a pair. Now find Tom Al-Betar’s address.

  16. tommy57 says: Nov 21, 2012 1:13 PM

    Sorry, but the NCAA leadership is woefully lacking in almost every effective leadership quality.

  17. thegamecocker says: Nov 21, 2012 1:19 PM

    @Extremesportsmaniac

    LOL! You’re correct. Maybe Gene Chizek can act as a consultant for Miami since he will be searching for work shortly. And he covered everything up with Cam beautifully. Hell, even gave him a Heisman! And double-jeopardy means Cam keeps the hardware and Auburn the bogus NC. But the PUBLIC knows the real truth. Similar to OJ…..

  18. jesse1834 says: Nov 21, 2012 1:20 PM

    If I were an ex-Miami player, I’d say sorry NCAA, due to concussion Symptoms I can’t remember a damn thing. Hope you enjoyed all the money you weasels made off of me. Screw the NCAA, who hell do they think they are?

  19. ryanw822 says: Nov 21, 2012 3:03 PM

    This is the last hope the NCAA has in still being recognized as the leader of college athletics. The NCAA is watching Presidents create tournaments, realign the conferences and makes tons of money while the NCAA is left on the outside looking in.

    Now if the NCAA wants to an example without any proof then in 10 years this will be the events that resulted in the NCAA being extinct.

  20. huskylawyer says: Nov 21, 2012 3:08 PM

    Great. So if I want to torpedo a rival’s college’s football program, I can just make up some allegations, hope the old player’s don’t respond, and the NCAA will impose sanctions on no coraborating evidence. Genius!

  21. edweird0 says: Nov 21, 2012 3:17 PM

    @huskylawyer

    My point exactly. I also find it incredibly peculiar that the lawyer who wrote said letter is a UF alum & we all know how much a school like UF would benefit on the recruiting trail with heavy sanctions against one of their major recruiting foes.

  22. 93warchant says: Nov 21, 2012 3:39 PM

    Thug university fans still don’t get it.. the NCAA has been cracking down on athletic programs all over the country. Penn state USC Ohio state. etc. And with Miami’s criminal past going back to the mid 80’s your damn sure the hurricocaines are gonna get raked across the coals.

  23. tomtravis76 says: Nov 21, 2012 4:00 PM

    Form the super conferences already and get rid of the NCAA and form a new governing body for college athletics. And figure out a way to pay these kids under the new rules.

  24. WingT says: Nov 21, 2012 5:13 PM

    If the allegations weren’t true then the former players would be coming forward in droves to speak up against it.

    This is going to be bad for the U, real bad

  25. ryanw822 says: Nov 21, 2012 5:32 PM

    “If the allegations weren’t true then the former players would be coming forward in droves to speak up against it.

    This is going to be bad for the U, real bad”

    must be easy going through life with such a simple mind.

    youre every prosecutors wet dream.

  26. WingT says: Nov 21, 2012 5:53 PM

    LOL @ryan,
    I guess time will tell eh?

  27. onbucky96 says: Nov 21, 2012 6:13 PM

    Ah, ‘da U is back. New decade, same old trash. Don’t give me the players deserved extra benefits(cash), the rules are beaten into their skulls the minute they get in campus. If they don’t get it, stupid is as stupid does. Time to dial back ‘da U…enjoy the sanctions violators. On behalf of the resr of college football, HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

  28. necr0philia says: Nov 21, 2012 7:45 PM

    @onbucky96. You should think before you speak. You laugh and make fun like a lot of other people on here but you guys act like you have never done wrong. What did Jesus say ” let he who has not sin cast the first stone”. Was you born in 1996 because you sure act that way. The problem is that all these new kids and coaches came to this School to turn it around. But they will get the short end of the stick.so ignorant people like yourself need to stop talking so bad about something you have no clue on except what espn or yahoo sports told you.

  29. charger383 says: Nov 21, 2012 8:37 PM

    Does the NCAA think they have powers from Homeland Security?

  30. norcalirish says: Nov 22, 2012 6:43 AM

    ROFL

    miami—the only program dirtier than usc!!!!!!

    GO IRISH GO

  31. soflosportsfan says: Nov 22, 2012 1:35 PM

    What is the NCAA’s motive for wanting to nail Miami so hard. For the record yes, they should get punished but not as hard as some anti-miami fans want But think about it… If it is to punish them for their players receiving free stuff then hell, every SEC school should be under investigation. Even students that go to those schools admit players get paid with the term “old money”. Can Newton got caught, but after a 1 week investigation he was cleared.
    Are they trying to protect their image. Well it’s a little to late for that

  32. thegamecocker says: Nov 22, 2012 6:07 PM

    @soflo

    It’s never too late to investigate Auburn. It’s always great to put pressure on a renegade program like Auburn.

  33. chaostheory23 says: Nov 23, 2012 2:47 AM

    I can’t believe anyone would be taking Miami’s side in this situation.

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