The NCAA’s laughable case against Miami reportedly takes another bad turn

25 Comments

We’ll ask it again: At this point, would you expect anything else?

The NCAA’s investigation of the Miami program has already been tarnished thanks to some serious screw-ups by its enforcement staff. Now, there’s another report of more  unethical practices on the NCAA’s part. According to the Miami Herald,  NCAA director of enforcement, Stephanie Hannah, continued to work with Maria Elena Perez, the attorney of former UM booster Nevin Shapiro,  to obtain information relevant to the Association’s case against the Hurricanes.

Hannah succeeded former NCAA director of enforcement Ameen Najjar last May. Najjar, as you’ll recall, was the focal point of the NCAA’s external investigation into the missteps taken in the Miami case. Najjar allowed Perez to depose witnesses in a bankruptcy case for relevant information in exchange for payment. That, of course, was a huge no-no in the eyes of the NCAA’s legal team — the information was eventually thrown out of Miami’s Notice of Allegations — though Najjar proceeded with the plan anyway without proper approval.

The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Najjar also wrote a letter to Shapiro’s judge indicating the NCAA may hire Shapiro as a consultant one day.

When Najjar left the NCAA last year, Hannah continued the policy of working with Perez. In an email exchange last July, Hannah wrote, “Regarding the enforcement staff’s interest in questioning [name redacted], attached is a document that outlines questions/topics to discuss with him.”

Per the Herald, that redacted name was Shapiro’s bodyguard, Mario Sanchez; his deposition never came to fruition, however. The NCAA has since ended its working relationship with Perez.

Ken Wainstein of the Cadwalader law firm — the same law firm that conducted the NCAA’s external review — told the Herald in an email that Hannah was unaware that her practices were considered unethical.

“Ms. Hannah assumed there was nothing amiss about the arrangement [with Perez] and that it had been completely blessed prior to her involvement in the case. In light of those circumstances, it is understandable that she raised no alarms about the Perez arrangement,” Wainstein wrote.

Former NCAA vice president of enforcement, Jule Roe Lach, was also under the impression that Najjar’s plan was given the green light, according to the external report. Lach was fired by the NCAA earlier this year.

Interestingly enough though, Hannah’s actions were not included in the Cadwalader’s report.

“[The report] was not intended… to describe all aspects of Mr. Shapiro’s relationship with the enforcement staff,” Wainstein wrote to the Herald.

The NCAA did not respond to the paper’s request for comment.

But that’s not all. The Herald also reports that Miami is prepared to allege that NCAA investigators lied to interview subjects by “claiming that other people interviewed made comments they never made, in order to trick the subjects into revealing incriminating information they otherwise might not…”

Miami, which is not required to release its NOA but has vehemently disagreed with it publicly, is expected to include both of the aforementioned arguments in a motion to dismiss the case on Friday. Though the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions cannot dismiss a case before a hearing — in this instance, the hearing is expected to occur sometime in June — Miami is reportedly set to dispute that as well.

Whether or not UM will get the case tossed, be it now or later, remains to be seen. The fact that the NCAA has turned this investigation into an unmitigated disaster is much more obvious.

Shane Buechele is almost Facebook official as starting Texas QB

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The college football season officially gets underway this week, but Tom Herman has another week to make some decisions about the starting quarterback for the Texas Longhorns. If he had to make that call right now, Shane Buechele would be getting the starting nod in Austin.

“I’ve said over and over again that if we played a game tomorrow Shane Buechele would start,” Herman told reporters on Saturday, seemingly a bit frustrated with the question once again being asked, according to The Dallas Morning News. “We’ll get a depth chart to make it Facebook official, I guess. Is that what we’ve got to do?”

It is expected Herman will make a decision on his starting quarterback within the next week ahead of Texas’ season opener at home against Maryland of the Big Ten. Buechele was the full-time starter for the Longhorns last season, but a new coach taking over at a program tends to wipe the slate clean to start from scratch. Buechele has faced his stiffest competition for the job from freshman Sam Ehlinger, who enrolled in January and was able to work with the team in the spring.

Whatever his decision ends up being, Herman has not been overly optimistic about his offense. Instead, Herman has been praising the defense as the key to the upcoming season. For a team that allowed 448.3 yards per game last season to rank seventh in the Big 12 in total defense, and 31.5 points per game (8th in the Big 12 ahead of only Kansas and Texas Tech), Herman is either suggesting the defense has taken some strides in practices this year or the offense really does have a long way to go.

It should probably not come as a great surprise Texas may be better off on defense, given the brief Charlie Strong tenure. Strong was always known more for his defense so the seeds for a reputable defense may have been planted in Austin prior to Herman’s hiring. Now it is up to Herman to get the offense in gear.

Miami wideout Ahmmon Richards sits out Hurricanes’ scrimmage with pulled hamstring

Getty Images
1 Comment

The focus in Miami’s preseason camp has been on the budding battle to be the starting quarterback but Mark Richt might have bigger concerns after an injury to another star offensive player.

The Hurricanes head coach confirmed to reporters on Saturday that receiver Ahmmon Richards missed the practice after he pulled his hamstring earlier in the week. Safe to say that’s not the kind of injury you want a burner like that to suffer right before the season starts.

The Palm Beach Post reports that senior Braxton Berrios stepped up in Richards’ absence during the scrimmage with six catches for 107 yards but things figure to be a little different against real opposing defenses this fall if his running mate can’t go full blast down the field like he potentially could.

Richards averaged 19 yards a catch last season and racked up nearly 1,000 yards through the air as a true freshman. He was expected to play a pivotal role in an offense that is breaking in a new signal-caller but, given the tricky nature of hamstring pulls and wide receivers, it could be a few weeks into the year before he trots out onto the field for the ‘Canes.

FAU-bound John Franklin III says he wasn’t having fun at Auburn

Getty Images
1 Comment

John Franklin III has had a ton written about him for a player going on his fourth program in five years but here’s a little more.

The quarterback-turned-wide receiver recently gave an interview to Matthew DeFranks of the Florida Sun Sentinel on his decision to transfer to Florida Atlantic for his senior season and seemed to lob a subtle shot at his former coaching staff at Auburn while doing so.

The not “having too much fun” line will probably draw most of the attention but don’t discount the issue Franklin has with playing every snap. While he arrived on the Plains as a signal-caller, he gave way to Sean White as the starter last year and was moved all over the field in a variety of packages. This spring he changed positions to wide receiver full time as a result but decided to transfer before catching passes for the Tigers.

The former ‘Last Chance U’ star will now head to Boca to play for former coach Clint Trickett with the Owls. It’s not super clear what exact role he will have in the offense but hopefully for Franklin he can have a little more “fun” this season along the way.

Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough misses practice for second time

Getty Images
2 Comments

A running back is on the loose in Tuscaloosa and no, that’s not as good as it sounds for the Crimson Tide.

Beat reporter Alex Byington noted on Saturday that star tailback Bo Scarbrough was noticeably absent from Alabama’s practice on Saturday when it came time for media viewing periods, the second straight time that he’s been out of sight on the field.

The Tuscaloosa News followed up on the matter and reports that Scarbrough’s attendance (or lack thereof) was “nothing serious” and Nick Saban confirmed as much later in the afternoon by saying the running back was sick with an illness that kept him out.

Sophomore Josh Jacobs also missed the viewing period on Saturday.

Scarbrough has had a light work load the past several months as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered in the national championship game. The presumed starter is still expected to be good to go for the season opener against Florida State but the absences at practice will at least make things interesting in the next two weeks at a crowded position on the depth chart.