Miami’s defense has sudden change of tone
by George Schroeder, USA TODAY Sports
Miami President Donna Shalala is politely declining interview requests for the time being, which perhaps isn’t surprising. She’s already said plenty this week.
But the university’s abrupt reversal from quiet cooperation to public defiance is startling.
“We have been wronged in this investigation,” Shalala said Monday in a statement after the NCAA made public the report of an external review that found significant misconduct by its enforcement staff investigating a booster’s allegations of rule violations. Tuesday, after the NCAA issued a Notice of Allegations to Miami that included a charge of “lack of institutional control”, the school’s response was at least as strident, saying, “many of the allegations … remain unsubstantiated” and attacking the process.
“Miami went from being very cooperative and helping the NCAA (in the investigation) and looking like they were going to take their lumps and move on from it to fighting and doing so very publicly,” said John Infante, a former university compliance officer and proprietor of The Bylaw Blog, which covers NCAA compliance issues.
The language in both statements was unusual for a university administrator, especially before an NCAA investigation is completed, and appeared to be a sharp reversal of strategy.
“It’s unprecedented,” said David Ridpath, an assistant professor of sports administration at Ohio University and a frequent critic of the NCAA’s enforcement arm. “In many ways she’s thrown down the gantlet and challenged (the NCAA): ‘Bring it on.’ “
The outcome will likely boil down simply to how strong the NCAA’s case actually is. For more than two years, the NCAA has been investigating allegations made by booster Nevin Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year sentence for running a $930 million Ponzi scheme, and according to Shalala’s statement, is “a man who made a fortune by lying … a convicted con man.”
The NCAA fired its vice president for enforcement after an external review by the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft found members of the enforcement staff secured the services of an attorney to secure information from depositions in Shapiro’s bankruptcy proceedings. Thirteen interviews and portions of 12 more were excised from the investigative record. Yet attorney Ken Wainstein, who … [For more on Miami's NCAA defense has sudden change of tone, click here.]