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

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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.

Arizona signee My-King Johnson set to become FBS’ first active openly gay scholarship player

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats watches from the sidelines during the Territorial Cup college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona signee My-King Johnson probably caught most Wildcats’ fans attention with his impressive name when it was listed among the 23 signees for the football program on National Signing Day.

The 6-3, 225 pound defensive end’s name is set to become a little more well known however.

In a story on Saturday in the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson confirmed that he would become the first active openly gay scholarship player in FBS when he enrolls over the summer down in Tucson.

“I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,” Johnson told the paper about going public with his sexuality. “But whatever.”

Johnson is far from the only gay athlete to play major college football but does appear to be one of the first to go public on the matter prior to suiting up for a major program. Missouri’s Michael Sam came out once he entered the NFL Draft. Just up the road in Tempe, where Johnson went to high school, Arizona State walk-on Chip Sarafin told his teammates in 2014.

From the Daily Star:

When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach’s reaction — “We want you to be a Wildcat” — was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Johnson picked the Wildcats despite offers from numerous FBS programs, including many in the Pac-12. Perhaps coincidentally, he really jumped on the radar of the coaching staff when he sacked quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, an Arizona signee himself (and the son of head coach Rich Rodriguez), three times in a high school game.

It certainly seems as though Johnson is very comfortable telling his story to a wider audience than just his teammates and coaches by doing the interview with the Daily Star and the environment down in Tucson has been very welcoming to all the new attention that it will bring. As the Wildcats begin spring practice this month, chances are the coaching staff is probably just as excited about the prospect of Johnson making an instant impact on defense this fall after seeing plenty of issues on that side of the ball during a 3-9 campaign in 2016.

Central Michigan AD taking same position at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Wide receiver Samajie Grant #10 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after scoring on a two yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the fourth quarter of the Territorial Cup college football game at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona has its replacement for former athletic director Greg Byrne.

Central Michigan AD Dave Heeke is set to take the same position in Tucson with the Wildcats, the school announced Saturday afternoon.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Arizona Athletics family. It is truly an honor to be named the new Vice President for Athletics and have the opportunity to return to the prestigious Pac-12 Conference,” Heeke said in a release. “I want to thank Dr. Hart and those involved with the search process for their confidence in my ability to lead one of the premiere athletics departments in the country. This program is about excellence and we will continue to focus on achieving at the very highest level athletically and academically, while creating the finest experience in the country for our student-athletes.

Heeke has been in Mount Pleasant since early 2006 and found plenty of success with the MAC school across numerous sports. In football, he notably hired Butch Jones to replace Brian Kelly when the latter left for Cincinnati and has seen the Chippewas make a bowl game eight times during his tenure.

While he is a Michigan native, he’s no stranger to the way things operate out West having spent 18 years at Oregon. While he held a variety of roles in Eugene, he eventually became a senior associate athletic director with the Ducks before departing for CMU.

Arizona had a vacancy in their athletic leadership ever since Byrne left to become Alabama’s AD not long after the national title game in January.

UTEP’s Theron Aych named new receivers coach at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Trey Griffey #5 of the Arizona Wildcats catches the ball in front of defensive back Jaterious Pouncey #48 of the Grambling State Tigers for a 34 yard touchdown in the third quarter at Arizona Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Spring practice is already underway in Tucson but it took until the end of this week for Arizona to finally have a complete offensive coaching staff.

The Wildcats announced on Saturday that Theron Aych would be taking over as the team’s new receivers coach, filling a vacancy created when Tony Dews left for West Virginia.

Aych helped provide a nice boost to the Miners’ passing game in his one season in El Paso and spent five seasons at Division II Angelo State prior to that. He served as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Rams during his five-year stint before moving up to the FBS level.

The Pac-12 is no new experience for Aych though, as he served as a graduate assistant at Washington over a decade ago.

Aych should have his work cut out for him this spring with the team featuring plenty of young players at the receiver position while also dealing with the loss of standouts like Trey Griffey and reliable veteran Nate Phillips both gone.

Colorado rounds out new defensive staff with hire of former Purdue DC Ross Els

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Mike MacIntyre of the Colorado Buffaloes looks on prior to the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks defeated the Buffaloes 44-10.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Just in the nick of time, Mike MacIntyre has rounded out his new defensive staff for the 2017 season.

The Buffaloes announced on Friday evening that former Purdue defensive coordinator Ross Els would be joining the program and serving as inside linebackers coach. The release notes that Els’ paperwork was completed in time for him to join the team for their second practice of spring ball.

“Coach Ross Els brings a lot of energy,” MacIntyre said.  “He has great experience as a coordinator, positions coach and special teams coach, and we’re really excited about having his expertise in those phases in our program.”

Els adds plenty of experience to Boulder, having coached linebackers at New Mexico State, Ohio and Nebraska. In addition, he was the Boilermakers’ defensive coordinator  and safeties coach last season.

The move completes the staff for the Buffs after seeing a number of coaches depart to Oregon with former coordinator Jim Leavitt.