Miami NOA delayed as NCAA investigates itself

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No, seriously.  This is actually happening.

Two weekends ago, a report surfaced that the NCAA would be issuing a Notice of Allegations to the Miami Hurricanes in connection to  improper benefits involving both the football and basketball programs.  That issuance was expected as early as a week ago Monday; since that report, there’s been nothing but crickets chirping as far as the ear could hear.

Today, we now know why the Notice of Allegations has been delayed, and the reasons behind the delay paint the NCAA in an even more negative light than it already has been over the past few years.

In a press release, the NCAA announced that its “national office has uncovered an issue of improper conduct within its enforcement program that occurred during the University of Miami investigation.”  In other words, the NCAA violated NCAA bylaws in its investigation of an NCAA member.  The genesis for the improper conduct seems to stem almost solely from documents obtained by the NCAA from bankruptcy proceedings involving Nevin Shapiro, the former UM booster who allegedly lavished millions of dollars in impermissible benefits on Hurricane football (mainly) and basketball players.

From the release:

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.

As a result of misconduct on the part of his enforcement staff — conduct that he says “angered and saddened” him — president Mark Emmert confirmed that the NCAA “will not move forward with a Notice of Allegations against Miami until all the facts surrounding this issue are known.”

An external review of the NCAA’s enforcement program has been commissioned by Emmert.  Kenneth L. Wainstein, a partner with the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, has been retained by the NCAA and will be charged with conducting “a thorough investigation into the current issue as well as the overall enforcement environment, to ensure operation of the program is consistent with the essential principles of integrity and accountability.”

Emmert hopes that the review will be completed in a period of 7-10 days.

“Trust and credibility are essential to our regulatory tasks,” said Emmert.  “My intent is to ensure our investigatory functions operate with integrity and are fair and consistent with our member schools, athletics staff and most importantly our student-athletes.”

Regardless of how long this external review takes, it’s yet another delay in an investigation that’s more than two years in the making.

Shapiro first came to the NCAA’s attention in August of 2010, with reports surfacing that the convicted felon was writing a tell-all book in which he was alleging former Hurricane players had committed major NCAA violations.  In August of the next year, the NCAA’s investigation became public knowledge; a Yahoo! Sports report that same month had Shapiro claiming he spent “millions of dollars” on six dozen UM student-athletes, with the benefits ranging from “cash, prostitutes, entertainment in [Shapiro’s] multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and on one occasion, an abortion.”

In February of 2012, Shapiro, apparently agitated that nearly four dozen individuals connected to The U were lined up to testify against him in his federal trial, promised to take “that program down to Chinatown” and that the Miami story will become “an urban legend” before it’s all said and done.

Shapiro was ultimately sentenced to 20 years in prison for orchestrating what was in the neighborhood of a $1 billion Ponzi scheme.  The damage outside the courtroom, though, had already been done.

Miami has already self-imposed a bowl ban each of the past two seasons in an attempt to soften potential NCAA sanctions, although it was holding off on self-imposing scholarship reductions and other punitive measures for the time being.  How this latest revelation by the NCAA will affect a Notice of Allegations — if there even is one — remains to be seen.

Per the NCAA, a NOA is sent to notify a member institution that enough evidence exists that major violations have occurred and that The Association is moving forward in the process.  Some have asked whether misconduct on the part of the investigative staff will result in some sort of a “mistrial” for Miami’s case.

“It’s premature to answer that question,” Emmert said on a conference call Wednesday, adding, “this is a shocking affair.”

If/when Miami receives its NOA from the NCAA — Emmert said during the conference call that information obtained surreptitiously was a very small part of the case and would be “thrown out” — they will have 90 days to respond.  Following that response, UM will appear in front of the Committee on Infractions to answer the allegations.  Typically 6-8 weeks thereafter, the NCAA will issue its findings and any sanctions will be revealed.

Weather postpones Game 4 of Astros-Yankees, leaves airing of Ohio State-Northwestern in limbo

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This isn’t exactly optimal.

Due to the forecast of inclement weather, Major League Baseball announced that Game 4 of the American League Championship Series Wednesday night between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees has been moved to Thursday night.  That means Game 5 of the ALCS, originally scheduled for Thursday night, has been pushed to Friday night and will be televised on FS1, with first pitch set for 7:08 p.m. ET.

So, why is news on the postseason of a stick-and-ball sport appearing on a college football website?

Ohio State is scheduled to travel to Evanston to square off with Northwestern Friday.  On FS1. With kickoff set for 8:30 p.m. ET.

The ALCS is airing on FS1 because FOX is televising its newly-acquired WWE Friday Night Smackdown franchise, so a network broadcast won’t be possible for the Big Ten matchup.  More than likely, the game will air on either the Big Ten Network or FOX business.

As of this posting, neither the conference nor FOX has offered up exactly where the game will air.

Regardless of how it ultimately plays out, this will be a huge black eye for a league that shouldn’t be hijacking high school football’s night in the first place, regardless of how few games there are on Fridays (for now).

Wake QB Jamie Newman’s status for Week 8 to be determined

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The defense wasn’t the only side of the ball that ran into injury issues during Wake Forest’s first loss of the 2019 campaign.

An injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder knocked Jamie Newman out of the Week 7 loss to Louisville. An on-site X-ray, as well as other further testing, showed no significant structural damage to the joint.

As Wake looks to bounce back from that loss against Florida State Saturday, though, the sophomore’s status is officially to be determined.

“He’s kind of day-to-day,” head coach Dave Clawson said. “He got hurt at the end of the second quarter. We had X-Rays to try and eliminate the worst thing that could have happened to him and that was eliminated. He was able to return. He’s sore and we’ll just take it day-by-day and see how he feels later in the week. It’s been one practice and we’ll have a better feel later in the week.”

“And we won’t share that when we know it. I don’t have to,” Clawson added, presumably in a middle-school-boy-at-recess voice.

This season, Newman leads the ACC in passing yards (1,772), passing touchdowns (17) and passer rating (160.7).  He’s ninth, tied for sixth and 17th nationally in those respective categories.

Should Newman be unable to go against the Seminoles, Sam Hartman would get the nod.  In relief of Newman this past weekend, the sophomore threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as the Demon Deacons nearly pulled off a stunning comeback on the Cardinals.

Last season as a true freshman, Hartman started the first nine games before going down with an injury, opening the door for Newman to take over the job.

Big 12 admitted error in Texas Tech-Baylor game, fines AD Kirby Hocutt for publicly pointing it out

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An officiating error involving what was ruled an illegal snap but shouldn’t have been during the first possession in the first overtime of Saturday’s Texas Tech-Baylor game could very well have cost the Red Raiders a win.  In a statement Sunday night, Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt revealed that the university had “been in constant communication with the Big 12 Conference office from the immediate end of the game and throughout Sunday regarding the illegal snap call in the first overtime” and that it had “been confirmed that the ruling on the field of an illegal snap was incorrect.”

Instead of an illegal snap, it should’ve been ruled a fumble that was recovered by Tech, which would’ve given the Red Raiders possession of the ball and a golden opportunity to win the game during their first drive in the initial overtime.

Also, instead of allowing the blunder to die right there, the Big 12 has kept the officiating boner in the headlines by announcing Wednesday morning that the conference has, in accordance with the league’s sportsmanship policies, fined Hocutt $25,000.  Additionally, the AD was issued a public reprimand.

For publicly acknowledging that the conference had privately admitted its officials were wrong.

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby addressed the development in a statement.

The Big 12 Conference members have developed policies governing the officiating of our contests. It is vital that senior administration officials, especially the Directors of Athletics, adhere explicitly to these policies. It is very difficult to balance support for an institution’s teams while fully complying with the imperative created by schools acting together to manage athletics competition. On this occasion, the required discipline was not exercised. Kirby Hocutt is one of the very best athletics administrators in the nation, and I am grateful for his assistance and support in resolving this matter.

It should be noted that, in an email obtained by RedRaiderSports.com, Big 12 executive associate commissioner Ed Stewart reminds Hocutt that, “[c]onsistent with past practice, we typically do not publicly address judgment issues.”

Alabama student who allegedly phoned in bomb threat on LSU’s Tiger Stadium said ‘his friend was on the verge of losing a large bet’

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Well, as long as there was a valid reason.

Earlier this week, a freshman student at the University of Alabama, Connor Bruce Croll, 19, was accused of phoning in a bomb threat on Tiger Stadium during last Saturday’s Florida-LSU football game.  It was reported at the time that Croll “was booked into jail early Sunday, where records listed him as a ‘fugitive from justice.’” Croll, who remains jailed in Tuscaloosa without bond, could be facing a felony charge, at least initially, when the case moves to the state of Louisiana.

While no details were available initially, and based on a police affidavit, WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge has now reported that Croll, a native of Virginia, admitted to police that he phoned in the bomb threat because “his friend was on the verge of losing a large bet.”

Subsequent to that, LSU issued a statement that sheds some light on university’s and law enforcement’s actions in the aftermath of the threat being phoned in.

While LSU cannot discuss specific security measures, it is important for the general public to know that LSU Police and officials, along with federal and local law enforcement agencies on location, have protocol in place to respond immediately and appropriately to real and perceived threats at Tiger Stadium and all campus facilities. In this case, protocol was followed efficiently and effectively to quickly ascertain the source of the threat. That protocol including an immediate sweep of the stadium and a multi-agency investigation, which led to the suspect being identified within minutes and arrested soon thereafter. LSU appreciates the cooperation of all agencies and the University of Alabama and UAPD in this very serious matter. There is nothing more important than the safety and wellbeing of the public on campus.