NCAA lacks institutional control; Emmert must pay with his job
NCAA external review reveals fundamental breakdowns in oversight.
|NCAA president Mark Emmert should have known that funds were being misappropriated in the Miami case. (Getty Images)|
The NCAA is guilty of failure to monitor and lack of institutional control. Guilty of its own rules, which it applies arbitrarily and -- at times -- unfairly.
Take a dip in the deep end of that pool of irony.
To sum up Monday’s nothing-to-see-here developments: While investigating a rogue booster at Miami , the NCAA had to sweep up a mess caused by a rogue investigator. The NCAA admitted to lack of oversight and fired its enforcement director.
Ah, but it hardly ends there. The NCAA No. 2 man (Jim Isch) approved an expenditure of more than $20,000 that he apparently never followed up on.
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Send me to that pay window.
Oh, and after the firing of Julie Roe Lach, that enforcement director, the interim replacement currently is representing the NCAA in a 9-year-old lawsuit against a former Buffalo basketball coach. At first glance, Jonathan Duncan of Spencer Fane in Kansas City has never represented a coach or school in an NCAA infractions case.
When I tried to call Duncan on Monday at his office regarding those subjects, I was referred to NCAA media relations. So at least there’s that for Duncan’s vision of the future and the NCAA’s nouveau transparency.
So it looks like the association’s good name is well on the road to recovery.
To further sum up this complicated mea culpa/scandal/hand-wringing please direct your attention to NCAA bylaw is 126.96.36.199. It states that a coach must “promote an atmosphere for compliance within the program … and to monitor the activities regarding compliance of assistant coaches and other administrators.”
For this case -- marking one of the most embarrassing times in NCAA history -- president Mark Emmert is that coach. And he must step down. Even if you believe the scandal stopped at Roe Lach, Emmert was her boss. And from Enron to Watergate to Camelot, bosses have fallen on swords.
If Emmert didn’t know that company funds were being misappropriated in the Miami investigation, he should have known. That’s what good bosses/coaches do. At least take the blame.
The NCAA is his team. Scores of real coaches’ careers have been eternally damaged for a lot less evidence than what the NCAA uncovered itself.
On Monday, the NCAA announced it had fired Roe Lach -- the chief cop on the beat -- for overseeing the use of an outside attorney to gather information in the Miami case. As reported by CBSSports.com last month, Roe Lach approved at least $20,000 in payments to Maria Elena Perez to ask questions regarding the Miami case during an unrelated deposition.
Roe Lach and the NCAA reportedly got little or nothing for their money. The NCAA said whatever was gathered will be stricken from the investigation. Not that it mattered. An enforcement department frequently accused of overreaching got itself caught by … itself.
The immediate question is what did Emmert know and when did he know it?
The question wasn’t asked because I was cut off to go to the next questioner. Not intentionally, I’m sure, but there were so many other answers that didn’t come on Monday.
-- Was Roe Lach given a severance and did she sign a nondisclosure agreement? Being a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, does the NCAA have to reveal those facts? Based on at least one previous NCAA tax return, we'll find out. Several names and severence amounts paid to individuals are listed on at least one previous return, according to Omaha-based tax attorney Wayne Henry.
"We pulled up the NCAA tax return," Henry said. "They have disclosed the severance payments they have made to a number of people."
-- Two outlets (USA Today, ESPN.com) have been reporting for weeks that it didn't stop at Roe Lach, that general counsel Donald Remy knew of the payment. In the review, investigator Ameen Najjar contends that the "Legal Staff" approved the expenditure. Emmert said previously, and the review reiterates, that Remy's office was clear about not using Elena Perez.
Either way, it seems that confusion and perhaps obfuscation by somebody, somewhere reigned.
Take a brief look at the external review. It was suspiciously released 15 minutes before the NCAA’s conference call, so that’s all the look was -- brief. There was lack of oversight, but only one person paid: Roe Lach with her job.
Najjar apparently went off the reservation in using Elena Perez but was fired later for a different matter. In that sense, he was easily blameable in this case because he was already gone. And he might have signed an NCAA nonisclosure agreement, which insures his silence -- and his version of the story.
Emmert must step down because if he didn't know all of this, he should have. Roe Lach was his hand-picked director of enforcement. She was only the sixth enforcement director in the six-decade history of the process -- and the first woman. To believe that any NCAA vice president could go down to a pay window and grab $20,000 to hire an outside attorney suggests fundamental cultural problems at the NCAA.
It’s there in the report that Isch, NCAA chief operating officer and Emmert’s No. 2, authorized the expenditure but didn’t ask the right questions -- if any questions. Again, what other company -- besides perhaps Enron -- doesn’t vet that kind of expense? Isch, it would seem, is as much to blame as his boss.
We know that Emmert has to step down because if he didn't know what was going on, he wasn't doing his job. Not even close to it.
Quoting directly from the late Paul Dee: "High profile athletes demand high-profile compliance."
Dee was the former Miami AD and then-infractions committee chair when he chastised USC for the Reggie Bush scandal in 2010. Meanwhile, his Miami athletic department was being infiltrated by Nevin Shapiro.
Who do we believe now at the NCAA? In the last year, four enforcement employees have either been fired or resigned. No matter what your opinion is of the Penn State situation, Emmert took unprecedented action. His decision has been devisive among the membership.
Incredibly, the Miami investigation is moving on like nothing ever happened. I’ve said this before but if the school accepts anything more than time served (suspensions, two bowls, scholarships) then Miami deserves whatever it gets.
Miami president Donna Shalala blew up -- as much as a president can in an official statement -- on Monday. She called for no additional penalties in an investigation where Emmert once said Miami had been "extraordinarily cooperative."
" ... sadly the NCAA has not lived up to their own core principles," she said calling the investigation "a disappointing pattern of unprofessional and unethical behavior."
Miami is no longer the victim. Shalala knows her lawyers and school have incredible leverage at this point in time. Think of Miami being slapped with lack of institutional control by an entity that lacks institutional control. The school -- and perhaps even Shapiro -- have become sympathetic figures.
The NCAA executive committee, which employs Emmert at its leisure, also has leverage.
“If they believe that action should be taken toward me or anyone else in the organization they are free to do that,” Emmert said.
Is that a statement or a dare?
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