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October 22, 2013
NCAA suspends Haith five games
Frank Haith has won 53 games in his first two seasons as Missouri's basketball coach. He will have to wait until November 28th to go for number 54. The NCAA Committee on Infractions suspended Haith for the first five games of the 2013-14 regular season after concluding that he failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance during his time at Miami.
The Committee on Infractions (COI) released its findings of a more than two-year investigation into the Miami athletic department on Tuesday morning. In addition to Haith's suspension, he will be required to attend an NCAA rules seminar at the end of the school year. Haith's former assistant, Jorge Fernandez, was given a two-year show-cause.
Haith said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that he will not pursue an appeal of the suspension.
"While I strongly disagree with today's report, and the inference on how the program was run at the University of Miami, as head basketball coach during that period, I accept responsibility for all actions in and around that program. This has been an excruciating ordeal for my family. An appeal, which would likely drag further into the season, would only prolong what has already been a lengthy and trying period of time for our student-athletes, the University of Missouri and our fans, and it's time for closure."
Haith's penalties revolve around his relationship with well-known Hurricanes' booster Nevin Shapiro. Shapiro said that he had given a highly-rated prospect (the name is redacted from the report, but is thought to be former five-star Dequan Jones) $10,000 in order to help secure his commitment to Miami. When Shapiro encountered financial difficulties, he demanded that Haith and his assistant coach (Jake Morton) reimburse the loan or Shapiro would go public with accusations that he paid the prospect.
Morton told the NCAA that he gave Shapiro's mother an envelope with $5,000 in cash. He also said that he loaned Shapiro $7,000, which Shapiro later paid back. From the NCAA report:
"(Morton's) story provided during his interview regarding the substance of the threats and his efforts to repay the booster is not credible. Likewise, the former men's head basketball coach (Haith) told more than one account about the threats and what he did to end the threats. These accounts are inconsistent and not credible."
In June of 2010, Haith paid each of his three assistants $3,200 as an advance for a basketball camp. The NCAA concluded that Morton recouped the checks from the other two assistants and added his own cash to total a $10,000 payment to Shapiro. From the report:
"The facts surrounding the camp advance checks are more than a coincidence. First, the former men's head basketball coach went beyond his normal practice: He wrote a camp advance check for each coach in the amount of $3,200 and paid a camp advance to his coaches before camp started. Each former assistant coach cashed his check on the same day and at the same bank branch....The information supports a factual conclusion that former assistant men's basketball coach A (Morton) collected $3,200 from each of the other two coaches once they cashed their camp advance checks. Former assistant men's basketball coach A then added cash that he had at home for the full payment to the booster. The former men's head basketball coach did not write the camp advance checks to all three assistant coaches for the sake of parity. The committee makes a factual conclusion that the former men's head basketball coach and former assistant men's basketball coach A worked together to ensure that the booster received a large cash payment and that this payment would end the booster's threats."
The other two assistants told the NCAA that they used the checks to pay school tuition for a child and to repair an air conditioner. The COI deemed those claims not to be credible.
The report also states that there were multiple phone calls between Haith, Morton, Shapiro's mother and the prospect in question on the day the checks were cashed and the money was delivered to Shapiro's mother.
The NCAA interviewed Haith on October 6, 2011 and September 5, 2012. At Haith's request, he had a third interview on September 25, 2012. The report states that Haith told different stories during his separate interviews.
"The former men's head basketball coach requested the (third) interview because he claimed that some of the statements he made during the second interview were 'inaccurate' and that he was 'confused about the timing of what [he] knew when [he] knew it.' During his third interview, the former head men's basketball coach's story about the events in 2010 changed significantly."
Britton Banowsky is the chair of the NCAA Committee on Infractions and the commissioner of Conference USA. Banowsky was asked on a conference call on Tuesday morning how much leeway is given for those interviewed by the NCAA to change their recall of events.
"Frankly it was difficult for the committee and maybe even the members of the enforcement staff to know what really was going on with the basketball program given all of the conflicting information," Banowsky said. "We had a responsibility to review that and to publish it just because we felt like the information ultimately required us to draw some conclusions."
The major conclusion they drew? "We were able to conclude that he did not meet that responsibility (promoting an atmosphere of compliance)," Banowsky said.
The NCAA investigation into Miami's athletic department was first brought to light in a story by Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports in mid-August of 2011. Nearly 800 days passed until Tuesday morning's findings.
"We like to do it in a rapid way, but that's not always possible," Banowsky said, citing the sheer volume of the case.
Banowsky also stated that the missteps during the investigation, including admissions that some evidence was gathered improperly, were not a factor when the COI handed out Tuesday's punishments.
Missouri's first five opponents are Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Illinois, Hawaii, Gardner-Webb and IUPUI. If he does not appeal the suspension, Haith's season debut would come November 28th against Northwestern in Las Vegas.
Mizzou's administration offered full support for Haith in statements issued on Tuesday by the University.
"During his time here, Coach Haith has been forthright with me and our compliance staff throughout this long process," Director of Athleticss Mike Alden said. "After all this time, Coach Haith, his family, the University of Missouri, our student-athletes, and our fans, deserve closure. We are extremely excited about the direction of our program and look forward to his continued leadership for our young men. I'm proud to have Frank Haith as our men's basketball coach."
"The University of Missouri has a strong culture of compliance," University Chancellor Brady Deaton said. "I can firmly say that since April of 2011 when he joined our family, Coach Haith has reaffirmed our values of compliance in every way, and we fully expect that to continue. We owe our student-athletes, our university, our state, and Mizzou Nation no less."
"I'm pleased with the positive working relationship we have with our compliance staff at Mizzou and we will continue our focus in that area as we move forward," Haith said in his statement. "I am very humbled and grateful for the support that I have received from the University of Missouri, its leadership, and our tremendous fans."