Letter to reduce Shapiro sentencing 'not central' in NCAA review

A letter written by a former NCAA investigator attempting to shorten Miami booster Nevin Shapiro's jail term was "not central" to an external review of the association, the leader of that review told CBSSports.com.

Attorney Ken Wainstein confirmed he was aware of the letter written by Ameen Najjar to Shapiro's sentencing judge. However, Wainstein did not include it in the 52-page final report that criticized the NCAA's use of an outside attorney to extract information from witnesses who were not compelled to otherwise speak to the NCAA.

"It's sort of collateral to the issue we were focused on ...," Wainstein said of the letter. "It was not central to the things we were looking at. There were a lot of other things, other points relating to the relationship with Shapiro that we didn't get into."

The Miami Herald first reported Wainstein's knowledge of the letter during the NCAA review. Najjar wrote in the letter -- first reported by the Associated Press -- advocating Shapiro's "depth of knowledge" saying Shapiro could be used in the future as an NCAA "consultant" or "speaker to educate our membership."

Najjar was the former lead investigator on the Miami case that currently is projected to go before the NCAA infractions committee in June. According to the AP, four days after the date of Najjar's letter in June 2011 the judge gave Shapiro a longer sentence (20 years) than prosecutors asked for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

The Herald also had others weighing in on Shapiro's sentence. An individual named "J.H." said he lost everything he had because of Shapiro, including his home which went into foreclosure. It could be argued that such a letter prejudiced the case against Miami at a time when the investigator either hadn't begun or was in the early stages. There is also the question as to what role, if any, the NCAA had in a federal legal proceeding. Najjar was fired last year during the Miami investigation but not for this act or involving attorney Maria Elena Perez, according to sources.

When the AP broke the story earlier this month, the NCAA said it had knowledge of the letter but never specified when. Wainstein said the decision not to include the letter was not influenced by the NCAA. "Nobody told us what we could or couldn't include," he said. Wainstein's investigation found that the NCAA did not violate any association bylaws or criminal laws. Former NCAA enforcement director Julie Roe Latch was fired as a result of the review.


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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