Mark Emmert

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.

Transferring Utah DT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu visits Alabama, too

Stevie Tu'ikolovatu
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Earlier this month, Stevie Tu’ikolovatu made the decision to transfer from Utah. Over the weekend, the defensive lineman paid a visit to Nebraska as he began the process of finding a new college football home.

Earlier this week, Tu’ikolovatu continued that process at the defending national champions.

According to the defensive tackle’s Twitter account, Tu’ikolovatu paid a visit to Alabama on Monday. While the Tide, as always, remains loaded along the line even after losing so much to the NFL draft, they could certainly use someone with the talent — and size — the 6-1, 320-pound Tu’ikolovatu possesses if the player and team find common ground.

Last season with the Utes, Tu’ikolovatu played in all 13 games, starting two of those contests. His four fumble recoveries were tied for the lead in the Pac-12 and second nationally.

All told, Tu’ikolovatu played in 25 games the past two seasons. As a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately in 2016 whether he moves on to Alabama, Nebraska or any other FBS program.

The 2016 season will, though, be his final year of eligibility.

Tim Irvin takes to Twitter to announce transfer from Auburn

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Eli Jenkins #7 of the Jacksonville State Gamecocks spins to avoid a tackle by defensive back Tim Irvin #22 of the Auburn Tigers on September 12, 2015 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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After just one season on The Plains, Tim Irvin will be plying his football wares elsewhere moving forward.

On his personal Twitter account Tuesday, Irvin, the nephew of former Miami Hurricanes and Dallas Cowboys receiving great Michael Irvin, announced that “it will be better for me to pursue my career elsewhere.” The 5-9, 194-pound defensive back gave no reason for his decision.

The Miami, Fla., native was a four-star member of AU’s 2015 recruiting class. 247Sports.com had Irvin rated as the No. 38 player at any position in the state of Florida and the No. 285 player overall in its composite rankings.

As a true freshman last season, Irvin played in 10 games. He started at nickel corner in games in which the Tigers opened in the nickel package.

As for potential landing spots?  It’s being reported that East Carolina, Miami and Texas may be considerations.

Dede Westbrook, Sooners’ leading returning receiver, arrested Monday

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 19: Wide receiver Dede Westbrook #11 of the Oklahoma Sooners pulls down a pass as cornerback Brodrick Umblance #4 of the Tulsa Golden Hurricane defends September 19, 2015 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Tulsa 52-38.(Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
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Oklahoma has a huge season opener at a neutral field against Houston to kick off 2016 in a couple of months.  Whether their top returning threat in the receiving game is on the field remains to be seen.

According to multiple media outlets, Sooners wide receiver Dede Westbrook was arrested late Monday morning on a charge of criminal trespassing.  The arrest occurred in Westbrook’s hometown of Cameron, Tex.

No details of what led to the arrest have been released.  An OU spokesperson said in a statement that “[w]e’re aware of it and are addressing internally.”

With Sterling Shepard off to the NFL, Westbrook is OU’s leading returning receiver.

In his first season with the Sooners, Westbrook was second on the Sooners in receptions (46) and receiving yards (743).  His 16.2 yards per catch was tops on the team for those with 20 or more receptions, while his four receiving touchdowns were tied for third.

For that production, Westbrook was named the Big 12’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year.

Mark Richt to donate $1 million of his own money toward indoor practice facility at Miami

CORAL GABLES, FL - DECEMBER 04:  New University of Miami Hurricanes head football coach Mark Richt speaks after he was introduced at a press conference at the school on December 4, 2015 in Coral Gables, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
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If you had any doubts about Mark Richt‘s desire for an indoor practice facility at his new coaching home, those have officially been alleviated.

CaneSport.com first reported that, at a booster event in Chicago last week, the Miami head coach told those in attendance that he will be donating $1 million of his own money to be used toward the construction of The U’s indoor facility.  Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post, citing several sources who were at the event, subsequently confirmed the Rival.com website’s initial report.

In February, Boston College announced its plans for an indoor practice facility, which left Miami as the only team in the ACC without either such a structure already built or the plans in place.  While the desire for such a facility pre-dates Richt’s hiring, the former Georgia head coach has stumped for one on a regular basis since returning to his alma mater.

Richt never saw his politicking for one at his former job come to fruition, but the stumping at his new gig has seemingly helped push the idea of an indoor practice facility further down the road than it’s ever been — to the point where it’s a when, not if.

I’m very confident it’s going to happen,” Richt said a little over a week ago. “In some ways it’s been approved, with maybe a few more hoops to jump through. I’m not sure how it all works, because every university’s different. But it’s rolling down the track really fast. I think it’s going to happen pretty quick.”

It’s believed the facility Richt and others desire would cost upwards of $20 million.