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NCAA Could Hand Down Sanctions to University of Miami Over Nevin Shapiro Case

The Miami Hurricanes mascot 'Sebastian the Ibis'
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the University of Miami could hear what sanctions the NCAA will bring down upon the school as a result of its investigation of former booster Nevin Shapiro.

Regardless of what happens, neither side will be happy.

The handling of the investigation by the NCAA has been wrought with misteps on both sides, culminating in the NCAA’s firing of vice president of enforcement Julue Roe Lach.

According to ESPN:

Lach was part of the chain that approved payments to Maria Elena Perez, the attorney for Shapiro. According to the 52-page report commissioned by the NCAA, Perez offered her help to the NCAA in the form of “using bankruptcy subpoenas to compel depositions from witnesses who had refused to cooperate.”

The NCAA, in turn, provided her with specific questions to ask, those coming in an email from former investigator Ameen Najjar, dated Dec. 18, 2011. “Maria, Listed below are a number of areas we would like you to explore,” began the email from Najjar.

The NCAA does not have subpoena power. Upon learning that Perez was willing to participate with investigators, members of the NCAA’s legal team urged the enforcement department not to proceed, though were apparently ignored. And now the depositions given by former Miami equipment-room staffer Sean Allen and former Shapiro business partner Michael Huyghue — along with any other lead that came out of their interviews — have been tossed from the NCAA’s case against the Hurricanes.

The University of Miami is using this incident as a means of avoiding stiffer penalties, arguing for nothing more than the penalties the school has already self-imposed.

The school’s president, Donna Shalala released a statement saying the Miami has “been wronged” by the probe.

Shalala’s attempt at shifting the blame comes across as… well, shifty.

There is little doubt that Shapiro provided improper benefits to athletes, recruits and coaches that included “cash, yacht trips, lavish dinners and strip club outings.” Shapiro has provide documents outlining the expenditures and photos of the events. There are even photos of Shapiro handing Shalala a $50,000 check for the basketball program.

So, instead of admitting that the program made mistakes and benefited from them in the form of cold, hard cash, Shalala is trying to make Miami out as the ones who have suffered.

There is little question the NCAA will hand down additional sanctions, but the actions of the NCAA and Lach leave no doubt that the university will fight the sanctions in court, prolonging the battle.

In the end, the whole incident reflects what is wrong with collegiate athletics; schools that are more focused on getting paid, an organization that has no clue how to govern or investigate the schools it is supposed to oversee, and student-athletes stuck in the middle.

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