NCAA vs Miami president Donna Shalala: A timeline on how the investigation turned into a battle

University of Miami president Donna Shalala seems like a nice old lady, right? She’s about to rip the soul out of the NCAA, and college sports fans everywhere will cheer her on. (Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)

Late on Tuesday night, the University of Miami received a piece of mail president Donna Shalala and her athletic department did not expect: A Notice of Allegations from the NCAA.

But let’s back up. The investigation has proven a long, winding road basically to nowhere at this point. If we start at the beginning, the understanding of Shalala’s frustrations may be facilitated.

More than two years ago, Nevin Shapiro was arrested on charges of running a Ponzi Scheme worth $930 million. On June 7, 2011, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay $82,657,362.29 in restitution.

Where does Miami come into this?

That part’s pretty simple, actually. The 5-foot-5 little con man that is the embarrassment of Nevin Shapiro was really into sports and his favorite team was Miami. Between 2001 and 2010, Shapiro spent more than $2 million “boosting” Miami football and basketball. His money was used to pay players, buy them goods and cars, and on parties with prostitutes, to name a few (of many) examples.

After Shapiro was arrested, the NCAA, and its head man Mark Emmert (more on this unsuitable administrator momentarily) opened up an investigation into the felon’s involvement with Miami athletics. The move was totally reasonable and, in fact, expected. There was no question as to impermissible benefits; only to the extent to which it had all been going on.

Well, 22 months and some change later, instead of sending Miami its Notice of Allegations, Emmert came out and publicly admitted to a “lack of institutional oversight” in his own group, the NCAA — what is supposed to be the governing body for all of college sports.

[Related: Emmert’s statements on the NCAA’s bungled investigation]

What did the NCAA do wrong?

Basically, this is where things get shady. Emmert fired several members of his staff, including allowing Assistant Director of Enforcement Richard Johanningmeier to retire. Johanningmeier actually paid Shapiro for his off-the-record testimony. That’s a big no-no, but the NCAA still decided to use that information in the case against Miami.

Again, actions like that are inappropriate, and the NCAA admitted as much.

All the while this was going on, the Miami athletic department voluntarily held itself out of not one, but two bowl games, as well as the 2013 ACC Championship Game. It has, by choice, withheld a number of scholarships each year, also in an effort to show contrition. The moves have cost the school millions of dollars in postseason appearances and TV revenue. The investigation (and the lack of scholarships) have made it exceedingly difficult for head coach Al Golden to recruit, which has cost the school in home game ticket sales.

However, despite it all, despite the embarrassment that literally has college sports experts everywhere calling for Emmert to either step down or be canned, the NCAA went ahead and sent Miami their Notice of Allegations on Tuesday — which is where we started this article in the first place.

According to CBS Sports, school officials were “pretty taken aback” at the stance taken by the NCAA enforcement staff.

Wouldn’t you be? For one thing, Emmert and his staff never even interviewed Paul Dee. Dee was the athletic director at Miami while a lot of Shapiro’s actions were taking place. Accordingly, Miami fired him. However, the NCAA made no efforts to ask him a single question regarding the case.

That is only one of a number of embarrassments the NCAA is choosing to deal with in sending this notice to The U. Emmert could have let this all go away after his NCAA wiped the pie off of its face.

But he didn’t and the allegations were sent, meaning Miami will be made known of whatever punishments (on top of those already self-imposed) within the next 90 days.

Except for the fact that it took Shalala less than a single day to make her pointed response (via HurricaneSports.com).

  • 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.

Emmert, of course, does not believe this school has “suffered enough”. This in spite of the fact that all of his testimony on the case is coming straight from the mouth who is literally in jail for lying to hundreds of people. In spite of the fact that an investigation that should have been over in a matter of months has now stretched into years.

In spite of the fact that he may not have a job himself by the time Shalala is done with him.

What do you think about the NCAA’s stance and Shalala’s reaction? Sound off below!

MORE: Even Jay Bilas is calling for Emmert’s resignation