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Donna Shalala Statement on Flawed NCAA Investigation

Miami President: "We Have Been Wronged In This Investigation"


Updated February 26, 2013

In mid-February of 2013, the troubled NCAA and its much-maligned president, Mark Emmert, came under the fire of the national media for the gross mismanagement of their investigation into the University of Miami athletics program, including the high-profile Hurricanes football program.

Miami was originally targeted by the NCAA for its alleged involvement with Nevin Shapiro, a one-time Hurricanes booster who was later convicted of running a ponzi scheme and sentenced to a lengthy prison term. The NCAA was looking into allegations that Shapiro provided Miami players with wide array of improper benefits over the course of several years.

Considering that many of facts of the case were made public by an extensive report written by Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, the Miami investigation would have seemed to be an easy one. But the NCAA managed to screw it up anyway, and admitted on Feb. 18 that its investigators used improper tactics in their efforts to build the case against Miami and Shapiro, including making payments to Shapiro's lawyer in return for access to information about his involvement with the Miami program. The NCAA would later hire a head of enforcement.

In the wake of the stunning revelations, Miami president Donna Shalala issued a statement in which she said her unverisity had been "wronged" by the NCAA. She also accused the NCAA of failing to live to its "own core principles" and then hinted strongly that she believed Miami, which imposed sanctions upon itself when the allegations first came to light, had been punished more than enough already, and that no further action was necessary. Shalala's statement would be followed several days later by another one, which was made after the NCAA annojnced it would proceed with its investigation into Miami anyway, regardless of its own misconduct in the case.

The full text of Shalala's statement can be read here.

"The University takes full responsibility for the conduct of its employees and student-athletes. Where the evidence of NCAA violations has been substantiated, we have self-imposed appropriate sanctions, including unilaterally eliminating once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for our students and coaches over the past two years, and disciplining and withholding players from competition.

"We believe strongly in the principles and values of fairness and due process. However, we have been wronged in this investigation, and we believe that this process must come to a swift resolution, which includes no additional punitive measures beyond those already self-imposed.

"In September 2010--two and a half years ago--the University of Miami advised the NCAA of allegations made by a convicted felon against former players and, at that time, we pledged our full cooperation with any investigation into the matter. One year later, in August 2011, when the NCAA's investigation into alleged rules violations was made public, I pledged we would 'vigorously pursue the truth, wherever that path may lead' and insisted upon 'complete, honest, and transparent cooperation with the NCAA from our staff and students.'

"The University of Miami has lived up to those promises, but sadly the NCAA has not lived up to their own core principles. The lengthy and already flawed investigation has demonstrated a disappointing pattern of unprofessional and unethical behavior. By the NCAA leadership's own admission, the University of Miami has suffered from inappropriate practices by NCAA staff. There have also been damaging leaks to the media of unproven charges. Regardless of where blame lies internally with the NCAA, even one individual, one act, one instance of malfeasance both taints the entire process and breaches the public's trust.

"There must be a strong sense of urgency to bring this to closure. Our dedicated staff and coaches, our outstanding student-athletes, and our supporters deserve nothing less."

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