I’m reviving Laser Focus just for the hell of it on this soporific Friday afternoon. The main topic of today’s diatribe is signs of a cracking and crumbling investigative infrastructure at the NCAA becoming increasingly more evident as that august organization bumbles its way through investigations of member institutions.
Take, for instance, the investigation of the University of Miami, which seemed to be a slam-dunk of a case. Nevin Shapiro, a booster who was convicted of masterminding a Ponzi scheme admitted that he had provided improper benefits to Miami Hurricanes recruits. During the course of the investigation, the NCAA admits that “former NCAA enforcement staff members worked with the criminal defense attorney for Nevin Shapiro to improperly obtain information for the purposes of the NCAA investigation through a bankruptcy proceeding that did not involve the NCAA.”
“The NCAA Executive Committee expects the enforcement program to operate within approved procedures and with the highest integrity.” —Lou Anna K. Simon, NCAA Executive Committee Chair
The investigators employed that expedient because the NCAA doesn’t have subpoena power; thus, they used the bankruptcy proceedings to obtain information to which they otherwise would not have been privy. My, my! The things that lawyers do to get around the law.
Mark Emmert, of course, was quick to throw up a smokescreen. “I have been vocal in the past regarding the need for integrity by NCAA member schools, athletics administrators, coaches and student-athletes,” he said. “That same commitment to integrity applies to all of us in the NCAA national office.”
Say what, Markypoo, you incompetent, hypocritical windbag?!?! You made a statement about integrity when you extorted a consent decree out of Rod Erickson, didn’t you? As we used to say in the Bahamas, da fish stink from da head, mon! Is it any wonder that after watching you operate, your rogue operatives think they have carte blanche to stick their noses into anyone’s business at all? Better get ready to lose Corbett’s anti-trust suit, because the actions of you and your organization make it quite obvious that you’re oblivious!
Here’s a blog post with which I don’t completely agree, but it is fun reading for Penn State homeys. Its author is pretty bent out of shape about the NCAA, and if you’ve read my diatribe thus far, you’re pretty amenable to reading such stuff.
But wait, there’s more! The bungling of the Miami investigation is only one high-profile screw-up by the NCAA. Let’s also consider the case of Abigail Grantstein, yet another NCAA lawyer who screwed up yet another NCAA investigation, in this case at UCLA. A basketball player named Shabazz Muhammad was accused by the NCAA of violating amateurism rules and was threatened with ineligibility. Last August, while the investigation was supposedly being conducted and without a conclusion having been reached, on a flight from Chicago to Memphis a guy who identified himself as the boyfriend of an attorney with the NCAA made it clear that the NCAA was going to find Muhammad ineligible and not allow him to play. This loudmouth also blurted out the name of his girlfriend: Abigail. An attorney on the same flight overheard and emailed Dennis Thomas, a former chairman of the NCAA’s infractions committee, with copies to UCLA and to attorney Robert Orr after learning that he was Muhammad’s personal attorney. In a subsequent interview with the Los Angeles Times, she stated her concern over the lack of confidentiality and the “cavalier discussion of this young man’s future being tossed around for everyone to hear.”
A day after the story was published in The Times last November, the NCAA reinstated Muhammad. In December, sources told The Times that the NCAA had fired Grantstein. Muhammad has become a star, leading the team in scoring and will potentially be a lottery pick in the NBA draft.
Grantstein had been working on other investigations, including that of UCF here in Orlando, and those investigations are in danger of collapsing due to her involvement in them. UCF officials, who met this week with the NCAA in Indianapolis were highly optimistic that the charges would be reduced or dropped completely.
The NCAA has a lot of nerve telling everyone else what to do when it displays its own incompetence and corruption at every turn. Who needs to listen to their hypocritical moralizing.
Physician, heal thyself!
You have to believe that Emmert will react to all the bad press of late. Oh, wait. He did. Here’s his statement:
Media reports yesterday quoting unnamed sources said the inappropriate use of Nevin Shapiro’s attorney to obtain depositions in the Miami case was authorized by the NCAA General Counsel’s office. These reports are not true. In fact, evidence shows the General Counsel’s Office specifically told the enforcement staff — on at least two occasions prior to any arrangements being made with the attorney — that they could not use Shapiro’s attorney for that purpose. As a result, the external investigation is solely focused on the behavior within and the environment of the enforcement program.
Liar liar pants on fire! So, there’s going to be an external review. Shades of Louis Freeh!
Emmert has indeed commissioned an external review of the enforcement program, which we’ll give the moniker “Enforcing the Enforcers.” Kenneth L. Wainstein (no relation to Grantstein, I hope), who is a former Homeland Security Advisor and FBI General Counsel, will conduct the investigation, otherwise known as “Investigating the Investigators.” What a waste of time and manpower! Undoubtedy, Emmert will suppress any negative findings, so what’s the use?
“Upon receipt of Mr. Wainstein’s findings, I will take further steps as needed to assure accountability for any improper conduct,” Emmert said. Yeah, right! He’ll fire some sorry-ass scapegoat to make himself look like the hero, no doubt.
“The NCAA Executive Committee expects the enforcement program to operate within approved procedures and with the highest integrity. Although we are deeply disappointed in this turn of events, we strongly support the actions President Emmert is taking to address the problem,” said Lou Anna K. Simon, executive committee chair and Michigan State University president.
Yeah, but you know that the seeds of destruction have been sown and I think that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s anti-trust suit against the NCAA will be a great fertilizer. Given all the shenanigans in Emmert’s backyard, he really ought to resign before the going gets really, really hot. He’ll wish he never listened to Vicky Triponey by the time the dust settles on this one.
In related news, “Victim Six” is seeking $75,000 in damages from the Tickle Monster, Second Mile, and Penn State in a lawsuit filed this week. The abuse that triggered the suit occurred in a shower encounter with Sandusky in 1998. Recall that his mother pressed the matter with police, but no charges were ever filed.
And our final story of the day, courtesy of Joe, is one of meddling by the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. “So what else is new with that?” you ask. No doubt relating to our uber-egalitarian president’s desire for uber-egalitarianism, for leveling the playing field, and to make some people more equal than others, Education officials are pressing for schools to give disabled students “a fair shot” to play on traditional sports teams or have their own leagues.
The schools would have to make “reasonable accommodations” to allow them to play on traditional teams. I want to know how that will work. Football playbooks might have to be rendered in braille for the blind wide receiver, while the armless member of the crew team will require an outboard motor for the racing scull. What we need is more government meddling with their head up their ass, as usual.
“Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement announcing the new guidance Friday.
Good old Arne Duncan. What a guy.
This will be an even greater boondoggle than Title IX.
Go ahead, read about it if you want.