For the NCAA, it's not innocent until proven guilty. Apparently, it's guilty unless you cooperate with us. It seems there's no such thing as pleading the fifth in the NCAA's bylaws.
In a move completely unheard of before, the NCAA has sent out letters to former Miami Hurricanes players informing them that they'll be considered guilty of infractions related to the Nevin Shapiro scandal unless they cooperate with the investigation. It's a tactic experts are calling "controversial," "manipulative," and "desperate."
-- Nevin Shapiro: Miami's Caligula
Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald obtained one such letter sent to the attorney of one player, and reports they've been sent to several others. He calls the letter "heavy-handed and manipulative." Here's the key excerpt from the letter:
"If we do not hear back from you or your clients by [this Friday], the staff will consider the non-response as your client's admission of involvement in NCAA violations. You may contact me at [blank] in order to arrange this interview. Your assistance in this matter is appreciated."
The players who received the letter are all former Hurricanes who are either in the NFL or have left football. The NCAA no longer has any jurisdiction over them.
If the NCAA has used such a drastic tactic before, it's never been leaked to the press.
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"I've never heard of anything like this before," an unnamed compliance expert told CBS Sports. "This seems like a total bullying tactic and sounds like a desperate move. They're basically saying they're taking the word of a billion-dollar Ponzi schemer over some guys who may have taken a few steak dinners? It looks like the NCAA has spent a ton of money and time investigating this and they're trying to cover their investment."
There's been speculation that the NCAA has had a hard time confirming many of Shapiro's allegations. While the University of Miami has claimed it's cooperating with the investigations to its fullest extent, many of the players and staffers implicated in the investigations are no longer associated with the school.
If anything, the letter seems to signal that despite spending nearly two years investigating the allegations, the NCAA hasn't yet gotten to the bottom of the mess yet. Though, there's no guarantee UM won't get whacked in February, when the NCAA is expected to hand down their verdict.