COLUMBIA — An external review of the NCAA’s enforcement staff found several missteps and insufficient oversight during the organization’s investigation of the University of Miami, the NCAA announced Monday. The inquiry involved Missouri coach Frank Haith.
The review, which was conducted by an outside law firm at the behest of NCAA president Mark Emmert, found that select members of the enforcement staff acted contrary to internal protocols, legal counsel and the membership’s understanding about the limits of its investigative powers.
“With the completion of the external enforcement review, we recognize that certain investigative tactics used in portions of the University of Miami case failed our membership,” Emmert said in a statement. “As I stated before, we are committed to making the necessary improvements to our enforcement processes and ensuring our actions are consistent with our own values and member expectations.”
The release states that information gained through the bankruptcy proceedings or “other evidence derived from that process” will not be used in the Miami case, though the NCAA will still proceed with the case using information properly obtained by its enforcement staff.
The announcement brings an end to a review process that began on Jan. 23, when Emmert announced that he was launching an external investigation into misconduct by his enforcement staff. As a result, the NCAA put on hold an investigation into the University of Miami that involved Haith. At the time, the NCAA was reportedly close to delivering a notice of allegations against Haith, a former Miami coach, as part of a broader investigation into that school’s athletic department.
The NCAA said at the time that former enforcement staff members paid the criminal defense attorney for Nevin Shapiro to improperly obtain information through a federal bankruptcy case. The NCAA does not have subpoena power, and the information it received through the bankruptcy proceedings would not have been available to its staff if it hadn’t enlisted the help of Shapiro’s attorney.
The external review, conducted by Kenneth L. Wainstein, a partner with the law firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, found that select enforcement staff members:
• Knowingly circumvented legal advice to engage Nevin Shapiro’s criminal defense attorney.
• Violated the internal NCAA policy of legal counsel only being retained and monitored by the legal staff.
• Paid insufficient attention to the concern that engaging the criminal defense attorney could constitute an inappropriate manipulation of the bankruptcy process.
• Did not sufficiently consider the membership’s understanding about the limits of the enforcement staff’s investigative powers.
• Did not violate a specific bylaw or law.
The review also found that enforcement leadership exercised insufficient oversight of the engagement of the criminal defense attorney, and that the legal and enforcement staffs took appropriate action to rectify the situation once they realized select enforcement staff members had engaged the criminal defense attorney.
“This report is an important first step in responding to the issue at hand,” Wainstein said in the statement. “For an organization with an oversight function like the NCAA, its credibility and reputation for fair-dealing are always more important than its ability to prove the allegations in any particular case. This episode is a reminder of the problems that arise when investigators resort to expedient but questionable tactics.”
Yahoo! Sports reported Monday that the NCAA fired vice president of enforcement Julie Roe Lach as a result of the investigation. The release says Emmert has appointed Jonathan Duncan, a partner at Spencer, Fane, Britt & Browne LLP, to serve as that capacity on an interim basis.
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