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January 23, 2013

Investigation of Miami, Haith takes another turn

On Tuesday night, Frank Haith was asked about the continuing NCAA investigation of Miami.

"It's been a tough 20, 18, 19 months, but it's a blessing that it is coming close to the end," Haith said. "That's the way I feel personally."

Haith was, at the time, under the impression that the NCAA would be sending out notices of allegations to those involved, likely including the Missouri coach, in the coming days. It now appears that timetable will be moved back.

In yet another twist to the nearly two-year investigation, the NCAA released a statement on Wednesday afternoon indicating it had discovered improprieties in its own investigative process.

"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."


The entire NCAA release is available online here.

The result is that some of the evidence used in the Miami investigation may now be tainted or inadmissible. The issue came to the attention of the NCAA when it was presented invoices for services of an attorney which had not been properly approved by the organization.

"Invoices were presented later that year for legal work that had not been approved," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a conference call Wednesday afternoon. "No one had approved the hiring of an outside attorney and yet many months later a bill was presented to pay for those expenses and it immediately raised the question 'Where the heck did this come from?'"

Emmert said any information that was determined to be obtained inappropriately would be thrown out.

"If there's any information that we determine that it was obtained improperly, yes, absolutely it would be thrown out," Emmert said. "We don't have any interest in pursuing a case that is based upon information that was obtained through inappropriate behavior."

Emmert indicated that "some small portion" of the NCAA's evidence in the case had been obtained inappropriately. He said the body would conduct an investigation to determine which evidence was still useable, but would not do further investigation or start the process over.

"Once we finish this investigation internally...then we have to go through all of the evidence, a process that we've already begun in some cases, to determine what has and has not been appropriately collected," Emmert said. "We'll use the information that's been garnered that was collected appropriately."

Emmert believes the NCAA's inquiry, which will be conducted by an outside law firm, should be wrapped up relatively quickly.

"We can wrap up this inquiry in seven to ten days, two weeks at the outside and then quickly make decisions about notices of allegations. I'm acutely aware of the problems this causes for those who are under some cloud," Emmert said. "The single most important issue of fairness for me is we make sure any allegations that are brought forward are based on good, sound information that was gathered through appropriate means. We cannot have the NCAA bringing forward information that was gathered by processes that none of us would stand for.

"We have to get this right."

What effect this might have on Haith specifically is unknown at this point in time. Earlier in the week, CBSSports.com had published this story, which indicated that Haith would be charged with unethical conduct and failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

Attempts by PowerMizzou.com to reach both Haith's attorney, Michael L. Buckner, and Michael Glazier, who is representing the University of Miami, were unsuccessful on Wednesday afternoon.

The latest revelation comes at a terrible time for the NCAA. The source for the CBSSports.com story was quoted as saying: "With everything that's happened recently with the Shabazz Muhammad case, the Todd McNair case in football, the governor of Pennsylvania suing the NCAA and the NCAA firing a lead investigator in this case, they want to make sure on this one."
Instead, it appears the NCAA may now have another black eye on its recent resume.

"When it comes to credibility and integrity, we have to make sure that that is absolutely front of mind when you have one, let alone several, issues that call that into question, you've got to pause and make sure that you have all those things right," Emmert said. "You can't offer just words. You've got to offer a demonstration that you're getting this right."

While the NCAA tries to get it right, Haith and the others involved continue to wait. He said on Tuesday night, after Missouri's 71-65 win over South Carolina, that neither he nor his attorneys had received a notice of allegations from the NCAA.

"(NCAA staff) has been in conversations with the University (Miami) and some of the individuals involved and, in some cases, given an overview," Emmert said. "The specific details that have been reported out in some stories are not based upon any formal allegation that we've presented and are more supposition and, in some cases, speculation."

An investigation that has already lasted nearly two years will now stretch on for at least a few more days. When those involved do receive a notice of allegations, they have up to 90 days to respond in writing. Following that, those parties would have a chance to defend themselves in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions in mid-June. A decision would not likely come for four to six months after that hearing. As has been the case for months, there remain more questions than answers.

"This is obviously a shocking affair. You're asking questions that we have to get the answers to," Emmert said. "It's stunning that this has transpired."


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