Former NCAA director of enforcement Ameen Najjar wrote a letter dated June 3, 2011, to U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton, saying that the NCAA — the governing body of college athletics — could have used Shapiro “in the future as a consultant and/or speaker to educate our membership,’’I get what the NCAA is trying to accomplish. As a membership services organization, they are hamstrung as to what they can do to get information out of potential witnesses. The best source of that information has been and remains that which is voluntarily given by those outside of the purview of the NCAA's enforcement regime. The NCAA can, through potential penalties, encourage cooperation by their members, their employees, and the student athletes that attend their member institutions.
Actually, the one thing the NCAA has done a pretty effective job of is handing down punitive measures to those that fit within that group who have tried to obfuscate or otherwise lie about violations after the NCAA gets on their trail. For a good example, see Bruce Pearl. However, if you aren't Cam Newton, or are otherwise outside of the NCAA's sphere of control, the organization is stuck with getting information from folks who do so out of the goodness of their hearts or through public records, such as publicly available pleadings in litigation.
Now, that is where the NCAA has gotten themselves in trouble with Miami. See, the NCAA figured they had a live one with Nevin Shapiro. Instead of letting the process play out, they decided to go all in with a convicted Ponzi artist. It wouldn't be unusual for a prosecutor to offer something to a defendant to get a bigger defendant on the hook. Happens all the time.
Except the NCAA isn't a prosecutor. It is a self-governance, member services organization.
Leave it to the NCAA to make the University of Miami a sympathetic figure.
Give Shapiro and his attorneys credit. They realized their value to the NCAA. Without Shapiro, the NCAA's case was dependent on dudes who had no reason to talk. Whether it was the NCAA's idea to use Shapiro's bankruptcy case to mine information or Shapiro's idea to shop that power to the NCAA, the fact remains that the NCAA stepped way over a line as a member services organization.
In five years, when the big conference teams create a new governing body, you can look back on this sorted affair and legitimately say the Miami investigation is a root cause of the schism.
Did Shapiro lead the NCAA on?
One last thing about all of this I can't get out of my mind: Did Shapiro mislead the NCAA to deflect heat from himself? The initial reports, all based on what Shapiro told Charles Robinson at Yahoo! and other reporters, was that he gave 'millions' to players. It was conceivable This Miami, after all. Now, there is mounting evidence, even after the NCAA used Shapiro's bankruptcy to mine information, that there was far less money given.
So was Shapiro puffing his numbers to make the story bigger? Did he effectively hide information and commit perjury to save his beloved U? Did he lead the NCAA on to get money/help from them?
Remember, this is a Ponzi scheme artist we are talking about. The truth, as much as there can be 'truth' here, is probably somewhere in the middle.
- My baby, he wrote me a letter, Blutarsky
- Report: Nevin Shapiro extra benefit estimate lower than first reports, Orlando Sentinel
- Shapiro says he has more to implicate University of Miami, ESPN.com
- Nevin Shapiro and the Miami Cash Machine, Forbes.com