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Miami President Donna Shalala releases statement on NCAA findings

For the University of Miami, the wait appears to be over. The NCAA has sent the school a Notice of Allegations on their investigation into the Nevin Shapiro situation, and from the tone in school President Donna Shalala’s voice, fans of the program are not going to be very happy with what the NCAA has found.

On late Tuesday Shalala released a scathing statement geared toward the NCAA following their investigation of the school, and its association with Nevin Shapiro. The timing of Shalala’s statement was bizarre at best, given that the public doesn’t yet know (and may never know) what the NCAA’s investigation turned up; because Miami is a private school, they don’t have to release the findings on the Notice of Allegations.

Regardless, it didn’t stop Shalala from taking the offensive on Tuesday and releasing the following, lengthy statement (for those inclined, there will be more analysis below).

First, Shalala’s words:

“The University of Miami deeply regrets and takes full responsibility for those NCAA violations that are based on fact and are corroborated by multiple individuals and/or documentation.  We have already self-imposed a bowl ban for an unprecedented two-year period, forfeited the opportunity to participate in an ACC championship game, and withheld student-athletes from competition.

“Over the two and a half years since the University of Miami first contacted the NCAA enforcement staff about allegations of rules violations, the NCAA interviewed dozens of witnesses, including current and former Miami employees and student-athletes, and received thousands of requested documents and emails from the University.  Yet despite our efforts to aid the investigation, the NCAA acknowledged on February 18, 2013 that it violated its own policies and procedures in an attempt to validate the allegations made by a convicted felon.  Many of the allegations included in the Notice of Allegations remain unsubstantiated.

“Now that the Notice of Allegations has been issued, let me provide some context to the investigation itself:

> 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 the allegation “corroborated”—an argument which is both ludicrous and counter to legal practice.

> Most of the sensationalized media accounts of Shapiro’s claims are found nowhere in the Notice of Allegations.  Despite their efforts over two and a half years, the NCAA enforcement staff could not find evidence of prostitution, expensive cars for players, expensive dinners paid for by boosters, player bounty payments, rampant alcohol and drug use, or the alleged hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts given to student-athletes, as reported in the media.  The fabricated story played well—the facts did not.

> The NCAA enforcement staff failed, even after repeated requests, to interview many essential witnesses of great integrity who could have provided first-hand testimony, including, unbelievably, Paul Dee, who has since passed away, but who served as Miami Athletic Director during many of the years that violations were alleged to have occurred.  How could a supposedly thorough and fair investigation 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—substantiated and proven with facts—that the University, its employees, or student-athletes committed, we have been and should be held accountable.  We have worked hard to improve our compliance oversight, and we have already self-imposed harsh sanctions.   

We deeply regret any violations, but we have suffered enough.

The University and counsel will work diligently to prepare our official response to the Notice of Allegations and submit it to the Committee on Infractions within the required 90-day time period.

We trust that the Committee on Infractions will provide the fairness and integrity missing during the investigative process.”

Wow. Shalala brought out the heavy hand, huh?

Again, it’s hard to know exactly what to make of the whole situation, since again we don’t know exactly what the NCAA found in its investigation of Shapiro and Miami. However, just based on Shalala’s comments, it seems as though the NCAA “corroborated” a lot of the claims that Shapiro made in the initial, shocking Yahoo report which was released last summer.

Of course the word “corroborated” might be the most apt word to use in describing where things stand with the NCAA after this statement. After all, did anyone else notice this sentence from Shalala’s statement:  

The NCAA enforcement staff acknowledged to the University that if Nevin Shapiro, a convicted con man, said something more than once, it considered the allegation “corroborated”—an argument which is both ludicrous and counter to legal practice.

As Shalala said, the fact that the NCAA used Shapiro to “corroborate” his OWN claims isn’t just likely illegal (not to mention highly unethical), but most importantly might be a testament to where the NCAA’s credibility with the public. You’d think that for an organization that is under so much fire (you know, for being forced to investigate ITSELF for improprieties) that they’d take a few less liberties and rely on a few more facts in this case.

Regardless, it appears as though Shalala and Miami plan on fighting this one tooth and nail.

As the great Terrell Owens once said: “Get Ya Popcorn Ready.”

It looks like there’s going to be a long fight between the two sides ahead.

For all his opinion, analysis and insight on college football, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.

Follow Crystal Ball Run on Twitter @CrystalBallRun.

About Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.' He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports. He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.

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