How the Most Notoriously Corrupt NCAA Program Corrupted Its Own NCAA Probe

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The NCAA's investigation into improper recruiting by a University of Miami athletic program that's seemingly always under investigation now won't see an end anytime soon... because the NCAA's own investigation has been compromised.

One of former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro's criminal defense attornies helped the NCAA's enforcement staff "to improperly obtain information" during their investigation of the university's compliance allegations, NCAA President Mark Emmert announced Wednesday. In case you don't remember, Shapiro is the convicted Ponzi schemeist who copped last summer to giving out thousands of dollars to Miami football and basketball recuits over an eight-year period, in the form of everything from beer to boats. Shapiro came to represent the worst of an athletic department that has been under scrutiny for decades, and the worst part of the latest scandal was that coaches supposedly participated in — or at least knew about — the entire thing. 

The NCAA's new slip-up comes in the form of information improperly taken from Shapiro's separate bankruptcy case. Emmert said the governing body's team worked with Shapiro's lawyer to "improperly subpoena and depose witnesses" in that case. Oh, and the NCAA had Shapiro's lawyer on payroll for reasons that remain unclear, even to Emmert. The NCAA boss, who has overseen many major scandals in his tenure beyond just the Penn State case, said any information improperly obtained will be thrown out of its Miami investigation, and depending on what information that is, ESPN warns the NCAA may have really shot itself in the foot this time: 

One key person in the investigation has been former Miami equipment-room staffer Sean Allen, who was deposed by Perez as part of Shapiro's bankruptcy proceedings. If the NCAA found that it could not use the information gleaned in that particular deposition, that would figure to be a major victory for the Hurricanes.

The NCAA is going to perform an external review on its enforcement staff to figure out the extent of the improper conduct into Miami. "I have been vocal in the past regarding the need for integrity by NCAA member schools, athletics administrators, coaches, and student-athletes," Emmert said. "That same commitment to integrity applies to all of us in the NCAA national office." Now the rulings in the NCAA's Miami investigation won't be announced until they get to the bottom of their own apparent corruption, which could take months.

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According to recent reports, a few former Miami coaches were about to get hit with the book. Separate reports said current Louisville football recruiting coordinator (and ex-Miami employee) Clint Hurtt as well as current Missouri head basketball coach Frank Haith (also formerly of Miami) were facing "unethical conduct" charges when the NCAA intervened.

Of course, some are howling at the irony of the most notoriously corrupt football program corrupting the NCAA: 

But there seems to be some kind of larger problem within the NCAA enforcement program, as this isn't the first time of late that an athletic program has slipped by during a high-profile case. The enforcement program's assistant director was fired in November. She was accused of making up her mind about the NCAA's investigation into UCLA's recruiting of highly-touted basketball prospect (with a Hall of Fame name) Shabazz Muhammad before a ruling was made. 

But, seriously, the NCAA making a mockery of its own Miami investigation is so hilarious that even Dick Vitale is (almost) as a loss for words: 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.