Inside look at the NCAA's external review regarding Miami attorney

An organization that had no problem approving $20,000 for the questionable hiring of an outside attorney won't give out its UPS number.

That was one of the more humorous revelations from a detailed look at the exhibits provided by the NCAA in its external review released a week ago. When organized in chronological order, the 40 email files released by the NCAA reveal an inside look at how the association dealt with the Maria Perez issue.

No one is saying every piece of correspondence is included. In fact, the review would have looked a lot more credible if it was commissioned by the NCAA executive committee rather than Mark Emmert, but the results, at times, are entertaining.

As you know, the situation arose when the NCAA got "greedy" -- one source's opinion involved in the case -- when investigator Ameen Najjar decided pursuing South Florida attorney Maria Elena Perez to obtain information for the NCAA in depositions with witnesses the NCAA felt it could not otherwise reach.

Let's cut quickly to the funny on Jan. 27, 2012, when Elena Perez asks Najjar for the NCAA's UPS number in order to mail some documents. Remember, Perez eventually got $18,000 from the NCAA for her work after asking for a total of $57,000.

“We are no longer allowed to do that,” Najjar replied to Elena Perez.

Good to know there was strict adherence to company policy and proper oversight.

On to the rest of the email highlights:

• Early on, Elena Perez proposed an hourly rate of $575 for the NCAA.

“This does NOT work,” Najjar wrote.

Later, an invoice is submitted for 20-and-one-half hours of work at $250 per hour.

• An Oct. 10, 2011, an email from Najjar to NCAA enforcement director Julie Roe Lach and enforcement officer Tom Hosty is one of the earliest indications a relationship could be established with Elena Perez.

“We will be looking at roughly $20,000 in total costs,” Najjar wrote.

(Hosty is a 49-year-old NCAA veteran who, according to this bio, has processed more than 70 major cases. You can see that Hosty's father once investigated Lee Harvey Oswald.)

• On Oct. 12, 2011, email chain concludes with Roe Lach asking NCAA COO Jim Isch, “Can I get the green light for this?” [expense for Elena Perez]

Isch: “Absolutely, please proceed, if past practice is any indication, there will be enough money.”

Amazingly, on Jan. 17, 2012, Roe tells Najjar and Hosty: "I know I got Jim's approval for something, but I can't recall the details."

Isch was not identified as being disciplined for his role in the approval. However, Roe Lach lost her job.

• On Dec. 18, 2011, Najjar compiled a list of 34 questions to ask in the depositions. That's a deposition in itself.

Elena Perez responds by asking Najjar, “Are we ever meeting in person? I feel like Charlie's Angels.”

That's an obvious reference to the disembodied voice of “Charlie” who gives the Angels their assignments each week.

• At one point, Elena Perez asks the NCAA for money to visit Shapiro in jail. She cannot ask Shapiro's parents for the expense, she writes, “because his mother will tell me to go F--- myself.”

• There is lots of back and forth between Elena Perez and the NCAA about money owed her, including a discussion on Dec. 20, 2011, about a $5 difference in an invoice.

• On Jan. 17, 2012, Roe Lach is cautioned against calling Elena Perez back because she is “very difficult to deal with.” That should have been one of many clues that this was a bad idea.

• The situation begins to deteriorate on Aug. 31, 2012, when Hosty tells Roe Lach, “It looks like we need to pay Maria Perez … $57,000 for legal services.”

• NCAA assistant general counsel Naima Stevenson tells Najjar on Oct. 21, 2011: “The use of a source's criminal attorney to conduct depositions on behalf of the Association does raise concerns.”


Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
 
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