Shalala, Miami ready for a fight after NCAA releases allegations

Miami athletic director Blake James and school president Donna Shalala haven't taken off the gloves. (Getty Images)

With the preliminaries out of the way, Donna Shalala is ready for the main event.

In other words, the NCAA had better get ready for the battle to continue in court. Or worse -- Capitol Hill.

For the second straight day, Miami's president came out smoking against the NCAA. Shalala released a scathing statement on Tuesday night in the wake of her school receiving its notice of allegations in the Nevin Shapiro case. The AP reported the NCAA has accused Miami of lack of institutional control.

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Shalala is thinking the same thing that a lot of us are: Who's calling who out of control?

From her statement: “Many of the allegations included in the Notice of Allegations remain unsubstantiated.”

In other words, the NCAA had better be darn sure of this one. Monday's dark day that included the firing of enforcement director Julie Roe Lach further clouded the investigation. Followed up so soon by the NOA, the NCAA seems sure of itself in going forward. If there is anything, anything -- another “misstep” (the NCAA's word) -- in this investigation by the association, the entire enforcement process will be at risk.

For now, the case seems to be headed for court -- or higher. Don't forget that Shalala is a powerful Democrat who was a former Secretary of Health and Human Services. Who knows how much NCAA damage that she could wreak with a second-term Democrat in the White House who has shown more than a passing interest in sports?

One source close to Miami described school officials as “pretty taken aback” at the stance taken by the NCAA enforcement staff. Shalala disputed the NCAA's findings on almost every level. In Monday's statement following the Roe Lach firing, Shalala said the school should get no additional penalties. Miami's self-imposed penalties included a two-year bowl ban, player suspensions and holding back of scholarships.

Tuesday's developments clearly indicate the NCAA believes Miami should be penalized further.

The school has 90 days to reply to the NCAA. The earliest that Miami could get before the infractions committee is probably August. That would mean the case wouldn't be decided until October or November.

Until then, it's going to be -- if nothing else -- entertaining.

Shalala flat-out brought the wood on Tuesday. “Institutional control” is the NCAA scarlet letter and seems more than ironic considering how the institution called the NCAA has been out of control in this investigation.

More from Shalala, who said: “Many of the charges brought forth are based on the word of a man who made a fortune by lying. The NCAA enforcement staff acknowledged to the University that if Nevin Shapiro, a convicted con man, said something more than once, it considered allegation the ‘corroborated.'”

She also said, “most of the sensationalized media accounts of Shapiro's claims are found nowhere in the [NOA] … the NCAA enforcement staff could not find evidence of prostitution, expensive cars for players, expensive dinners paid for by booster, player bounty payments, rampant alcohol and drug use …”

Shalala also claimed the NCAA failed to interview the late Paul Dee, the former AD. Dee was in charge of the department during a portion of the time that Shapiro allegedly ran rampant through the football program.

“How could a supposedly thorough and fair investigation,” she said, “not even include the Director of Athletics?

“Finally, we believe the NCAA was responsible for damaging leaks of unsubstantiated allegations over the course of the investigation.

“Let me be clear again: for any rule violation … we have been and should be held accountable … We deeply regret any violations, but we have suffered enough.”

It's clear that the main event is coming -- without gloves. Shalala has taken them off.


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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