Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Federal law violated in UConn NCAA case

Remember when we heard the news that the NCAA had violated its own procedures when conducting the Nevin Shapiro case at Miami? Remember how I noted that it was nowhere near the first time the NCAA circumvented policy or law to get the goods?

Well.  Whaddya know.

By discussing Nate Miles' foot surgery and payment details, officials at the Tampa Bay Bone and Joint Center violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), according to the attorneys. The NCAA deemed that Miles' foot surgery in 2008 was an extra benefit paid for by Josh Nochimson, a former UConn student manager and booster who ultimately became an agent. In its public infractions report dated February 2011, the NCAA infractions committee referred to contact being made with “the doctor who performed the procedure on [Miles].”

That orthopedic surgeon, Chris MacLaren, is mentioned in the infractions report along with Joseph McCandrew, an administrator at the center. MacLaren's attorney told CBSSports.com that no HIPAA violations occurred.

The Tampa Bay Bone and Joint Center did not respond to a request for comment.

While NCAA investigators apparently did not violate federal law, they were able to extract information to assist in the case that led to major penalties against UConn and former coach Jim Calhoun.

While some might breathe a sigh of relief that there’s no apparent federal liability on the part of the NCAA, the real takeaway here is that, once again, investigators have thrown ethics in the trash in trying to get the goods on a school they have in their sights.

Enticing individuals to violate federal privacy law is as bad or worse than paying an attorney to depose a witness under oath. In both cases, investigators ignored protocol and circumvented legal advice from their own legal staff.

While the CBS report linked above doesn’t state that investigators ignored legal counsel in the UConn case, does anyone actually believe that the investigators didn’t know that what they were asking the physicians to share constituted a violation of HIPAA, and does anyone actually believe that NCAA legal counsel either could have or should have warned them not to do it?

The whole investigative process is a sham. They pick and choose who they want to go after, they extract information by any means necessary and make stuff up when they can’t connect all of the dots. Then they arbitrarily hand down penalties that make no sense at all and attempt to justify it all by saying “every case is different.”

Who cares who paid for a kid’s reconstructive surgery? How does have a booster or a staff member pick up the tab affect the kid’s amateur status?

It’s a sham.

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