Wednesday, January 23, 2013

During Miami investigation, NCAA uncovers its own corruption

Color us somewhat unsurprised. Investigations into Alabama during the 1990’s and Mississippi State during the mid-2000’s swarmed with allegations of overzealous investigators crossing ethical and legal lines to get the goods.

Double secret witnesses. US Attorneys working with NCAA investigators and compelling witnesses to cooperate with NCAA investigations as part of a plea deal. Allegations of sexual misconduct. And that was just with those two.

The NCAA investigators who apparently violated the organization's own procedures didn't just wake up one morning a figure out a way to circumvent existing policy or standing law. They're well practiced at this sort of chicanery.

This time, they were caught.

NCAA statement:
The NCAA national office has uncovered an issue of improper conduct within its enforcement program that occurred during the University of Miami investigation.  Former NCAA enforcement staff members worked with the criminal defense attorney for Nevin Shapiro to improperly obtain information for the purposes of the NCAA investigation through a bankruptcy proceeding that did not involve the NCAA.
As it does not have subpoena power, the NCAA does not have the authority to compel testimony through procedures outside of its enforcement program. Through bankruptcy proceedings, enforcement staff gained information for the investigation that would not have been accessible otherwise.
"I have been vocal in the past regarding the need for integrity by NCAA member schools, athletics administrators, coaches, and student-athletes,” said Association President Mark Emmert. "That same commitment to integrity applies to all of us in the NCAA national office."
In light of this incident and other recent events involving the enforcement staff, President Emmert has commissioned an external review of the enforcement program. The review will include a thorough investigation into the current issue as well as the overall enforcement environment, to ensure operation of the program is consistent with the essential principles of integrity and accountability. The NCAA has retained Kenneth L. Wainstein, a partner with the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP to conduct this investigation. Wainstein specializes in corporate internal investigations and civil and criminal enforcement proceedings. He was formerly Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush and has served as the Assistant Attorney General for National Security as well as the FBI General Counsel. 
As it relates to the Miami investigation, the NCAA will not move forward with a Notice of Allegations until all the facts surrounding this issue are known.
"Upon receipt of Mr. Wainstein’s findings, I will take further steps as needed to assure accountability for any improper conduct,” Emmert said.
"The NCAA Executive Committee expects the enforcement program to operate within approved procedures and with the highest integrity. Although we are deeply disappointed in this turn of events, we strongly support the actions President Emmert is taking to address the problem,” said Lou Anna K. Simon, executive committee chair and Michigan State University president.
"To say the least, I am angered and saddened by this situation. Trust and credibility are essential to our regulatory tasks,” said Emmert.  "My intent is to ensure our investigatory functions operate with integrity and are fair and consistent with our member schools, athletics staff and most importantly our student-athletes," he added.