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Senior College Football Columnist

Curious timing to NCAA announcement on Miami probe

On the eve of delivering its Notice of Allegations to the University of Miami as part of its investigation into the Nevin Shapiro scandal, the NCAA announced it is doing a 180. Instead, the NCAA is now going to investigate its own investigation as it reviews misconduct inside the NCAA enforcement program.

"To say the least, I am angered and saddened by this situation," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in the official release. "Trust and credibility are essential to our regulatory tasks."

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Not long after issuing that statement on Wednesday, word spread that the NCAA actually had Shapiro's attorney on its payroll and that the attorney had aided the NCAA in its UM investigation.

"This is obviously a shocking affair," Emmert said.

Really? Is it?

As CBSSports.com reported in September, the NCAA came to South Florida on Dec. 19, 2011 -- the day that former Miami assistant equipment man Sean Allen testified after having been subpoenaed in Shapiro's federal bankruptcy case. Allen told CBS that he spotted NCAA investigator Ameen Najjar in the room. Allen requested that Najjar be removed from the room. The NCAA investigator was told to leave, but clearly Najjar and the NCAA had been working with Shapiro's attorney.

Allen was not only grilled, under oath, about his involvement with Shapiro but also the current Hurricanes coaching staff as it related to the part-time equipment man operating as a recruiter for UM football, making improper contact with local prospects.


"They wanted to find out what a lot of those canceled checks were for," Allen told me. "Most of the times I couldn't answer it. After that, it got into asking a lot about if Nevin did confer benefits on people. Technically, I guess that does have to do with the bankruptcy to find out where all of his money went, but it got so minute about some of these $100 dinners."


Allen said it really didn't sink in that he had just become a star witness for the NCAA until he walked out of the room. "They [the NCAA] got my deposition before I did. It was leaked to the [Miami] New Times. Both UM and Nevin's attorney blamed each other for that."



On Wednesday, Emmert said, "In my two-and-a-half years, I've certainly never seen anything like this. And don't want to see it again."

He might not -- as long as he keeps his eyes open. Why Emmert and the NCAA reacted this way now is open to speculation. Did someone connected to UM force Emmert's hand?

"That is my big question -- why now as if it has not happened in the past?" wondered Dr. David Ridpath, Assistant Professor of Sports Administration at Ohio University, who is an expert on the NCAA process. "I have been accusing enforcement of not following their own rules for years [interviewing wrong people, threats, improper procedures, rogue investigators etc.], and they always rebuffed me saying the system was perfect. My only thought is someone was ready to blow the lid on this [Shapiro perhaps?] and Emmert had no choice. I cannot imagine him doing this unless he saw a storm coming.

"I think the [UCLA Shabazz] Muhammad case shows how these investigators can get drunk with power. In their defense, it is difficult to get information without subpoenas. But if they expect people to follow rules of conduct, they must do the same. However, they have gotten attorney information before. They certainly did in the Albert Means case."

Miami president Donna Shalala issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon: "I am frustrated, disappointed and concerned by President Emmert's announcement today that the integrity of the investigation may have been compromised by the NCAA staff. As we vane done since the beginning, we will continue to work with the NCAA and now with their outside investigator hoping for a swift resolution of the " with the NCAA announcement and hopes for swift resolution of the investigation and our case."

It should be noted the NCAA did not say the information that has been gathered is not accurate, but rather the means it used to gather the information was against their rules in the way it was put together. Then again, Penn State fans and USC fans are probably even more irate now after hearing all this.

Emmert added that he hopes the NCAA's investigation into the investigation will take weeks, not months.


Bruce Feldman is a senior writer for CBSSports.com and college football commentator for CBS Sports Network. He is a New York Times Bestselling author, who has written books including Swing Your Sword, Meat Market and Cane Mutiny. Prior to joining CBS, Feldman spent 17 years at ESPN.
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