Donna Shalala is done messing around. This morning, the University of Miami dropped a 45-page bomb on the NCAA, detailing the dozens of reasons why the school believes the Nevin Shapiro case should be dropped. You've already heard most of the juicy parts: Nevin's attorney getting paid by the NCAA to depose witnesses, officials taking a Ponzi-scheming liar's allegations at face value, and investigators outright lying to witnesses.
But there are some new details, too, including how former basketball coach Frank Haith was blatantly misled in a failed attempt to corroborate Shapiro's allegations and how Shapiro's Ponzi-scheming girlfriend was considered a credible back-up witness.
UM's letter is devoted to laying out the case that the NCAA's investigation is so horribly tainted that any further sanctions against the school would be a joke.
But UM also rightly points out that, even if Shapiro was right, the Canes have already paid a hefty price by skipping two postseasons (including an ACC title game).
"The University is not asking for a windfall or quick escape. To the contrary, largely because of the NCAA's misconduct and mismanagement, this matter has languished for twice as long as it should have, to the University's detriment," they write.
In addition to the well-reported issues with paying Maria Elena Perez, Nevin's attorney, and leaving UM completely in the dark about its investigation, the letter also lays out some new details.
For one, the school says that when Assistant Director of Enforcement Brynna Barnhart interviewed former basketball assistant Jake Morton, she repeatedly lied about Haith fingering Morton as the one who brought Shapiro into the program in the hopes she could trick Morton into flipping.
"In his September 5, 2012, interview, Haith made repeated statements that are the complete opposite of what Barnhart reported to Morton," UM says.
Then, when investigators interviewed Haith again, they tried the exact same tactic, lying to him repeatedly about Morton supposedly admitting he'd given Shapiro $10,000 (a charge Morton never admitted to.)
Also of note: When the NCAA wasn't taking Shapiro at his word, they were corroborating his allegations with perhaps the only witness as scummy as the Ponzi schemer: His former girlfriend, Mimi Menoscal, who is serving her own prison term for running a separate Ponzi scheme.
"As if relying on a Ponzi schemer were not problematic enough, the enforcement staff also refuses to see the inherent problem associated with relying on the testimony of yet another person who has been convicted of a crime as a direct result of her lies," they write.
Here are some of the better burn lines against the NCAA in the document:
- "The Investigation was corrupted from the start. Almost immediately, the NCAA's senior leadership went public with statements regarding the potential applicability of the "death penalty."
- That Najjar could represent to a judge that a convicted swindler was a credible individual before a single interview corroborated Shapiro's assertions defies any logical explanation.
- The enforcement staff's belief that the defrauding of a federal court in concert with the criminal attorney of a Ponzi scheme architect was a reasonable investigative tactic demonstrates how distorted its understanding of the breadth of its authority and the boundaries of proper and ethical investigative tactics has become.
- Charging the University with a lack of institutional control because two administrators who had no day-to-day athletics responsibilities or expertise in the area allegedly had knowledge of Shapiro's involvement in a sports company is unreasonable, illogical and a bit ironic, given the Cadwalader Report and the NCAA President's position regarding accountability for the actions of subordinates.
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Check out the full letter for yourself: