Michael L. Buckner, shareholder of the Michael L. Buckner Law Firm, was quoted in an August 18, 2011, article, “How will Alabama handle implicated staffers in Miami scandal?”, by Jon Solomon of the The Birmingham News. Solomon focused on the former University of Miami football coaches implicated in the alleged rules-violations described in a Yahoo! Sports report. Yahoo! Sports reported Nevin Shapiro, a former Miami booster who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for operating a $930 million Ponzi scheme, allegedly provided impermissible benefits to approximately 72 UM football student-athletes and other student-athletes between 2002 and 2010. According to Yahoo! Sports and ESPN.com, Shapiro contends “he gave money, cars, yacht trips, jewelry, televisions and other gifts to a list of players including Vince Wilfork, Jon Beason, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester, Willis McGahee and the late Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins. Shapiro also claimed he paid for nightclub outings, sex parties, restaurant meals and in one case, an abortion for a woman impregnated by a player. One former Miami player, running back Tyrone Moss, told Yahoo! Sports he accepted $1,000 from Shapiro at about the time he was entering college.”
Solomon asked Buckner “about how Alabama should handle the cases of director of football operations Joe Pannunzio and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland”. Buckner was quoted as follows:
“If I was Alabama, I would conduct my own internal inquiry in conjunction with the enforcement staff,” said Michael Buckner, a Florida attorney who counsels schools about compliance and has represented several in NCAA cases. “If there are alleged activities going on with current staff members at other schools, are they continuing those activities at Alabama? Alabama can’t afford any significant allegations at this point since they’re on probation.”
“If what was in the report was true, then I think (Stoutland and Pannunzio) would be prominent in any notice of allegations,” Buckner said. “Whether that rises to a major for them, that’s the question. Normally, that would just be a secondary, although the enforcement staff can use patterns of secondaries to be a major. It’s what’s not in the story that the enforcement staff is going to have to uncover.”
Buckner’s analysis is based on the Buckner Law Firm’s belief that an institution is best-served by investigating all substantiated allegations of NCAA rules-violations as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Further, if an institution discovers an employee is under investigation (or has been alleged to have been involved in an alleged rules-violation), then it should conduct a narrowly-focused inquiry to determine if the employee committed similar alleged acts at his/her new employer. Remember, a tiger does not change its stripes (or, in other words, a person does not change his or her nature). This course of action protects the long-term interests of the institution–it promotes institutional control and practices the concept of proactive monitoring.
Contact Michael L. Buckner (954-941-1844; firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information on NCAA enforcement strategies and techniques.