Who knew that 2013 would become the Year of the Dupe?
Lance Armstrong, Manti Te’o and now the NCAA have all been thrust into the national spotlight in what has become another in a growing list of bizarre storylines to begin the New Year.
Who’s writing this stuff, Aaron Sorkin?
The latest came Wednesday afternoon when the NCAA announced it was conducting an internal investigation into improper conduct within its enforcement program occurred during its investigation into Miami.
According to NCAA President Mark Emmert, investigators looking into the connection between Miami and former booster Nevin Shapiro, violated rules by hiring an attorney who represents Shapiro in another case out of the NCAA jurisdiction.
Let me pause so that statement can sink in … the NCAA supposedly hired Nevin Shapiro’s lawyer to conduct its investigation into Shapiro and the University of Miami.
I’m no lawyer, but I’ve seen enough “Law and Order” episodes to know that doesn’t seem quite right.
A clear violation of rules, the revelation forced Emmert and the NCAA to hire another lawyer to begin an internal review into the incident. Let’s hope they didn’t hire him from Dewey, Cheatem and Howe. Emmert hopes the investigation will be completed in seven to 10 days in which time the organization will conclude its case against Miami and present the school with its findings in a Notice of Allegations.
“As you might imagine, I am deeply disappointed, frustrated and angry about this situation,” a humbled Emmert said during an afternoon teleconference with the media.
Turns out, the infraction was discovered after a bill was presented to the NCAA services rendered by Shapiro’s attorney. Since the use of a lawyer was not approved, it was red-flagged and brought to its attention of higher-ups in the NCAA organization.
So, in essence, an expense report saved the NCAA from making one of the biggest mistakes in the group’s history. Thank you Turbo Tax!
Imagine what would have happened if the NCAA handed down its NOA to Miami and somehow someone at the school discovered this mistake during the appeals process? It doesn’t take Matlock to figure out who would have been up the river without a paddle on that one.
While the NCAA spent much of Wednesday afternoon in crisis mode, Hurricanes fans were greeted with the revelation Miami could wind up in better shape than when they woke up this morning.
According to the NCAA, the attorney may have used subpoena power to compel testimony to gather information against the school and the football program. Since the NCAA has no subpoena power, any testimony gathered would be inadmissible in the case.
Emmert was quick to point out that while it was a small amount of tainted evidence, he believes the NCAA still has enough information that it can use for its investigation.
In layman’s term, Miami went from staring down a possible death penalty to getting a slap on the wrist, especially when you consider how the school self-imposed back-to-back bowl bans.
The NCAA’s admission also has interest to those outside of the Miami area.
You can’t tell me that Penn State and its supporters aren’t hitting up their lawyers on speed dial to see how this latest information could open the door – ever slightly – on a chance for an appeal regarding sanctions against their program.
The NCAA is thinking along those same lines and once the review into the Miami investigation is complete, Emmert wants to shift focus on whether or not there were similar problems in other cases. With setbacks from cases involving USC and UCLA, the NCAA is covering all of its bases and they should.
Over the past couple of years, the NCAA has become the punch line to a joke which is just not funny anymore.
Emmert knows it.
It’s why he urged school presidents and chancellors to approve sweeping reforms to college athletics. Some of those reforms are in the works.
However, is it too little too late?
Don't forget about Matt's Murschel's weekly mail bag. If you have any college football questions you would like answered or just issues or players you would like his thoughts on please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.