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College Sports, Education

NCAA Investigation of Miami: What Will It Take for the NCAA to Take the Yahoo! Sports Article and Prove the Allegations

The national media has covered the NCAA enforcement investigation of the University of Miami athletics program with great interest since last week. 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.”

However, the NCAA enforcement staff cannot, and does not, “copy and past” a media article and present it to the Committee on Infractions. Instead, the enforcement staff will conduct a formal investigation of alleged rules-violations, including the information in the Yahoo! Sports article. The enforcement staff will interview persons with knowledge of the facts, collect documents and other evidence and apply NCAA legislation to the evidence (to determine if rules were violated). Most importantly, the notions of due and fair process require the enforcement staff to conduct such a thorough investigation that evidence corroborating and refuting each allegation is discovered and evaluated. For example, if Shapiro claimed in an NCAA-recorded interview that he spent $250 on dinner for a student-athlete and produced a receipt of the purchase, then the staff will have to identify at least one source to support the claim (the Buckner Law Firm attempts to locate a minimum of two corroborating sources). Otherwise, the enforcement staff would not be certain the dinner involved the identified student-athlete–the receipt could have been from a family meal (which did not include any student-athletes).

An allegation is formally presented to the Committee on Infractions if it satisfies Bylaw 32.6.1.1.1 (Enforcement Staff Basis for Allegation), which states “the enforcement staff shall allege a violation when it believes there is sufficient information to conclude that the Committee on Infractions could make a finding”.

Contact Michael L. Buckner (954-941-1844; mbuckner@michaelbucknerlaw.com) for more information on NCAA enforcement strategies and techniques.

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About Michael L. Buckner, Esquire

An attorney who provides clients with internal investigation, civil litigation, estate planning and compliance services.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “NCAA Investigation of Miami: What Will It Take for the NCAA to Take the Yahoo! Sports Article and Prove the Allegations

  1. Interesting that the NCAA didn’t apply those standards in the USC case even though it took them four years to investigate. For example, the alleged “smoking gun” used to nail Todd McNair and make the only USC connection to knowledge of the Bush violations was the sole hearsay testimony of the convicted felon Lloyd Lake about a 2 minute phone call at 1:30am after Bush quit playing football at USC. There were no “minimum of two corroborating sources.”

    Posted by George Orten | August 22, 2011, 10:55 am
  2. Our law firm uses the minimum two corroborating sources standard. The NCAA enforcement staff does not adhere to that standard. In fact, in one current case, the staff is using only the accuser as evidence. It depends on the case. Due to the public’s interest in the UM case, I believe the staff will be more selective in how they report allegations.

    Posted by Michael L. Buckner, Esquire | August 22, 2011, 11:56 am

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