Time to give NCAA the death penalty

Report labels latest flaws in a system full of them

CBS4 report on latest in NCAA's investigation into UM.

At what point does one university president mutter over a burner phone to another university president, "Can we give the NCAA the death penalty?"

Hopefully it's after reading page 22, footnotes 33 and 34, of the report on the investigation of the NCAA's investigation. By then, the report released Monday already concludes how rogue NCAA investigators, "knowingly circumvented legal advice."

It already details how they "violated the internal NCAA policy of legal counsel." It also spells out why the lead NCAA investigator in the Miami case and why the NCAA's lead enforcement officer were fired.

Just when you think it will be a billable hour's worth of legal reading, the entertainment portion of the investigation begins. And it's high humor, at least if you're tickled by wondering what any of this has to do with higher learning.


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There, footnote 33 explains how NCAA investigators discussed using Luther Campbell's defamation suit against Miami whistle-blower Nevin Shapiro to secure witness testimony and documents. You can't make this stuff up, folks.

Footnote 34 is even better. It tells how an NCAA investigator, "purchased a disposable mobile phone" – a burner phone, as we say on the street – and "paid for Mr. Shapiro's use of the prison phone system." Shapiro got $4,500. Who says snitching doesn't pay?

The fall out of Monday's report was loud and predictable. And that's just Miami fans celebrating how roughly 20 percent of the investigation gets thrown out now. But that misses the larger point, which isn't even that 80 percent of the evidence still stacks up badly against Miami.

The larger point is how everyone looks varying degrees of awful in this. This three-year investigation has pulled back the curtain of college athletics completely and it smells like a decayed animal.

Let's review. On Miami's side, former coaches, players and officials allowed – even encouraged – a slimeball to get close to college kids. And then school president Donna Shalala somehow neglected to tell football coach Al Golden or basketball coach Jim Larranaga about the potential NCAA problems before hiring them.

On the NCAA side, investigators went rogue in the same way Shapiro did. At least that's what the report says. A couple of weeks ago, an investigator involved in the case said their methods were approved and it was, "good investigative work."

So either the investigator was spinning a good case for the department or they're being made the fall guys in this. Either way, as with Miami, the questions go all the way to the top in the NCAA.

The NCAA, for instance, just passed a rule saying head coaches are responsible for assistants' actions. NCAA president Mark Emmert was asked Monday if he then should be responsible for his assistants' deeds.

"One of the reasons I wanted to bring in external investigators is to have them look at this process and makes sure we understood fully what happened in this circumstance,'' Emmert said. "I think we got to the core facts. I report to the executive committee. If they fell there are actions to be taken against me, they're free to do that."

Blame Emmert, if you want. Blame the individual investigators and Miami assistants, too. The real issue here is the NCAA model doesn't work. It's built on the flawed premise that colleges should make millions and athletes should make zip.

The media supports this idea, for the most part, by labeling good guys and bad guys. Fans buy into it in the name of their alma mater. And every year there's a new outbreak of "scandals" like players selling their own jerseys (Ohio State) or players getting meals from a booster (Miami). And constant finger wagging.

"The lengthy and already flawed investigation has demonstrated a disappointing pattern of unprofessional and unethical behavior,'' Miami said in a statement.

The sooner this never ending investigation into Miami ends, the better for everyone. It's not just the investigation that been exposed here. It's bigger and more corrupt than that.

It's the entire NCAA system has been exposed. It doesn't work. When a slime-bucket like Shapiro embarrasses not only Miami but the NCAA, it's obvious the system doesn't work at all.

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