Coral Gables, Fla. • The NCAA has found what it calls "a very severe case of improper conduct" committed by former members of its own enforcement program during the Miami investigation, and will not deliver the long-awaited notice of allegations against the Hurricanes until an external review is completed.
NCAA President Mark Emmert announced the findings Wednesday. The sports governing body said former enforcement staff members worked with the criminal defense attorney for former Miami booster and convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro "to improperly obtain information ... through a bankruptcy proceeding that did not involve the NCAA."
The NCAA did not name the attorney involved. Shapiro has been represented by Maria Elena Perez, a Miami graduate. Perez did not immediately return a request for comment from The Associated Press on Wednesday.
One key person in the investigation has been former Miami equipment-room staffer Sean Allen, who was deposed by Perez as part of Shapiro’s bankruptcy proceedings. If the NCAA found that it could not use the information gleaned in that particular deposition, that would figure to be a major victory for the Hurricanes.
Miami had no immediate comment.
"I have been vocal in the past regarding the need for integrity by NCAA member schools, athletics administrators, coaches, and student-athletes," Emmert said. "That same commitment to integrity applies to all of us in the NCAA national office."
The Hurricanes’ athletic compliance practices have been probed by the NCAA for nearly two years. Allegations of wrongdoing involving Miami’s football and men’s basketball programs became widely known in August 2011 when Yahoo Sports published accusations brought by Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year term in federal prison for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme.
This would figure to be another significant issue for the NCAA and its enforcement department. Among the others pending:
— A California case filed by former Southern Cal assistant football coach Todd McNair, who said the NCAA was "malicious" in its investigation into his role in the benefits scandal surrounding Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller said he was convinced the actions of NCAA investigators were "over the top."
— Earlier this month, the NCAA was sued by Pennsylvania Gov. Thomas W. Corbett, who claimed the sports governing body overstepped its authority and "piled on" when it penalized Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky scandal last summer. The governor asked a federal judge to throw out the sanctions, arguing that the measures — which include a four-year bowl ban and $60 million fine — have harmed students, business owners and others who had nothing to do with Sandusky’s crimes.
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