Late last month, the NCAA announced that it would have to, in so many words, investigate itself after it “uncovered an issue of improper conduct within its enforcement program that occurred during the University of Miami investigation.” The NCAA has been looking into Miami’s athletics program for over two years thanks to allegations of improper benefits ranging in the millions of dollars provided by former booster Nevin Shapiro (pictured) to dozens of football and basketball players.
Reports from the Associated Press and CanesInsider.com stated earlier in January that the NCAA was on the verge of issuing UM with a Notice of Allegations. However, that has since been delayed as the Association and president Mark Emmert “will not move forward with a Notice of Allegations against Miami until all the facts surrounding this issue are known.”
One of those facts has just reportedly come to light. Dennis Dodd of CBSSports reports that NCAA vice president of enforcement, Julie Roe Lach, approved a payment to Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez, in order to obtain information in the UM investigation. The report states that Lach “discussed and approved the disbursement of at least $20,000” in budgeting to Perez for legal fees and expenses in October and November, 2011. Per the report, Perez was paid to depose two people connected to Shapiro in a bankruptcy proceeding in Dec., 2011.
Here is a portion of the NCAA’s original press release on the improper conduct:
Former NCAA enforcement staff members worked with the criminal defense attorney for Nevin Shapiro to improperly obtain information for the purposes of the NCAA investigation through a bankruptcy proceeding that did not involve the NCAA.
As it does not have subpoena power, the NCAA does not have the authority to compel testimony through procedures outside of its enforcement program. Through bankruptcy proceedings, enforcement staff gained information for the investigation that would not have been accessible otherwise.
Lach did not directly respond to messages sent by CBS, and the NCAA refused to comment further.
If true, this would further damage the reputation of the NCAA and their investigation of Miami, and could potentially result in legal ramifications of its own. The program has already self-imposed two bowl bans in an effort to lessen the blow of possible NCAA sanctions. However, it has not self-imposed other punitive measures, such as scholarship reductions.
Shapiro is currently serving a 20-year sentence for orchestrating a roughly $1 billion Ponzi scheme.