In another stunning twist to the Miami case, the Associated Press reported Wednesday that an NCAA enforcement director wrote a favorable letter to Nevin Shapiro’s sentencing judge.
According to the AP, Ameen Najjar wrote on official NCAA letterhead to a federal judge attempting to reduce Shapiro's sentence. Not only that, Najjar -- since fired -- wrote that Shapiro could be used in the future by the NCAA as “consultant” or “speaker to educate our membership.”
This is so wrong on so many levels. Some reaction …
--The NCAA's lead investigator was picking sides against Miami in what was supposed to be an impartial process. To me, this is as bad -- if not worse -- than the Maria Perez situation. After that was discovered, the NCAA threw out 20 percent of information obtained. It may be time to throw out the entire case.
I'll go back to a conversation I once had with a former NCAA enforcement official. During a major case, he said eight major allegations were thrown out because an investigator paid a student-athlete $20 for lunch.
The NCAA is going ahead with a case where its lead investigator had a stated bias against the school being investigated.
--The NCAA said it was aware of the letter to the judge, but when? During the case? Today? If the NCAA knew two years ago that Najjar was writing such a letter that is grounds, at least, for him being removed from the case at that time, if not fired.
--All NCAA infractions cases are supposed to be fair and impartial. How does Miami get a fair shake when an NCAA enforcement official is trying to reduce Shapiro's sentence? Don’t forget that the NCAA later approved $4,500 to be deposited in Shapiro's commissary account and provided him with a burner phone.
I’ve never been incarcerated but I don’t know of a jail anywhere that allows prisoners to have cell phones. You can imagine the security concerns.
--So what we have here is a fired enforcement director writing a letter of recommendation for a soon-to-be convicted felon who he thinks should be an NCAA consultant.
Yeah, Jack the Ripper knew a lot about blades, too. Gillette wasn’t interested in him as a consultant.
--Also, this same enforcement director was central to hiring an attorney, in order to gain subpoena power to depose witnesses in Shapiro’s bankruptcy case.
--How did the NCAA external review not discover this incredible breach with the judge? I’m going to assume Mark Emmert’s hand-picked law firm didn’t know about Najjar’s conduct in this one. But if not, why not? We’re talking about -- at least -- more lack of oversight at the top.
If not, then attorney Ken Wainstein didn’t do a thorough job. I’m sure Najjar’s letter was available through court records. That’s probably how AP got it. If an attorney being paid six figures to sniff around the NCAA missed this, it’s time to start asking what else he missed?
And don’t tell me the investigation was limited to the Maria Perez matter. A fair critic could claim the investigation was limited because there wasn’t a desire to find something like Najjar’s letter.
But I forgot, the NCAA is aware of the letter.
--Also, incredible: Neither this act, nor the hiring of Maria Perez, were reasons why Najjar was fired, according to sources.