SI Special Report – How the NCAA’s Mishandling of the Miami Case Exposed an Enforcement Department Seemingly Powerless To Do Its Job

After months of interviews with current and former NCAA staffers, as well as with convicted felon and former notorious University of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, a special report entitled “The Institution Has Lost Control” in this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED by senior writers Pete Thamel and Alexander Wolff exposes a fractured NCAA enforcement department seemingly powerless to do its job—despite recent efforts.

“People are questioning the need and effectiveness of an enforcement staff in general,” says former NCAA enforcement rep Abigail Grantstein, “to the point that I wonder if the membership will say we don’t want it.” (PAGE 65) “The time is ripe to cheat,” adds an ex-enforcement staffer. “There’s no policing going on.” (PAGE 66)

Shapiro, whose initial allegations that he supplied improper benefits to more than 100 Miami football and basketball players between 2002 and ‘10  came to light and was mostly corroborated in an August 2011 Yahoo! Sports report, now claims that he used inside information from Hurricanes players, coaches and athletic department staffers to win bets on 23 Miami football games between 2003 and ’09. Shapiro supplied SI with financial statements and bank records from 2005 to ’08 that show dozens of five- and six-figure sums moving from Shapiro’s entities to Adam Meyer’s during the college football season. Meyer is the operator of a handicapping website AdamWins.com. Meyer’s lawyer, Joel Hirschhorn, told SI that Meyer would place bets for Shapiro when his client was in Las Vegas.

An example of Shapiro’s new claims: He told SI that several days before favored Miami lost 19-16 to N.C. State on Nov. 3, 2007, he learned from a coach that quarterback Kyle Wright would be benched due to a bad knee and ankle. Shapiro said he got his bet in before the benching became public, and the line moved from 13 points to 11. Records show that six days after the game, nine wires moved $1.18 million from one Shapiro business to another. Shapiro claims it was all money from the N.C. State game.

This week the NCAA committee on infractions will hear the Miami case, but Shapiro says his gambling accusations won’t be a part of it. E-mails from earlier this year obtained by SI between Shapiro and an NCAA investigator make it clear that Shapiro wouldn’t consent to an interview with the NCAA to discuss his gambling on Miami games after the NCAA balked at paying for his attorney to attend the interview.

In addition to Shapiro’s claims, the SI report found that policies under NCAA president Mark Emmert since he took office in October 2010 have resulted in an atmosphere of instability, distrust and tension in the NCAA enforcement division. Among the findings: New performance metrics pressure NCAA investigators to try to solve cases more quickly; Emmert’s public comments on ongoing cases has disheartened staffers; and college presidents have more direct access with Emmert to discuss cases involving their schools. All of this has led to a staff reluctant to be aggressive on high profile cases.

Included in the SI report:

  • Rich Johanningmeier, one of two NCAA enforcement reps originally assigned to the Miami case, retired in the middle of the investigation last spring. He told SI that he had found Shapiro to be substantially truthful and is taken aback by the interest college presidents, such as Miami president Donna Shalala, express in active investigations. Johanningmeier also noted how much more involved Emmert was than his predecessors. Johanningmeier says, “You were more aware that there was an interest from the [NCAA] president’s office in the cases than in the past.” (PAGE 63)
  • Emmert’s No. 2, Jim Isch, began judging all NCAA departments with performance metrics, including an expectation that no investigation would take more than 12 months. Johanningmeier says he considered the Miami case to be a two-year undertaking.
  • Shortly after being fired last spring for contracting with Shapiro attorney Maria Elena Perez to pose questions to witnesses who would not cooperate with the NCAA, Ameen Najjar, the other NCAA enforcement rep initially assigned to the case, sent Shapiro an e-mail that said his superiors “simply want to get the case done, even if it is half or only one quarter done. I don’t know if it is simply to meet some arbitrary time line or the upper levels are trying to save Miami. I suspect it’s the latter.” (PAGE 63)
  • In 2011 the NCAA introduced a new enforcement model that assigned multiple staffers to one investigation. “One of the strong points under the old system was that we had a person who knew a case inside out,” Johanningmeier says. “With ownership comes responsibility. These were no longer your cases. They were team cases.” (PAGE 65) Former enforcement chief Julie Lach claims the new approach was effective and led to a speedier resolution in the case against Ohio State and coach Jim Tressel.
  • Controversial episodes beyond the Miami case also disheartened enforcement employees. The NCAA abandoned a recruiting violation case against UCLA basketball player Shabazz Muhammad after the boyfriend of Grantstein was overheard boasting on a plane that the NCAA would find violations. Additionally, the NCAA’s harsh punishment of Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky scandal was regarded as overreach by many NCAA staffers, especially since the enforcement division never conducted an investigation.

Visit SI.com later today to read Pete Thamel’s take on the ineptitude of the NCAA enforcement process and Alexander Wolff’s intimate look at what it was like interviewing Shapiro through a series of jailhouse interviews.


A Look at the Rise and Fall of the Big East in This Week’s Sports Illustrated

12COVv12BigEast_PromoAs the Big East plays its final conference tournament at Madison Square Garden this week, senior writer Alexander Wolff tells us about the individuals and moments most responsible for the rise and downfall of the legendary college basketball conference. One of the league’s best players of all time, Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing, is featured reaching for a jump ball against Walter Berry of St. John’s on a regional cover of this week’s SI. This is the 10th time the Hoyas have appeared on an SI cover and the fifth time for the Red Storm.

Wolff recalls how the Big East first rose to prominence in the 1980s due to the vision of the late Dave Gavitt, the founder and first commissioner of the league who cut TV deals with CBS, ESPN and regional sports networks, took the conference championship to the world’s most famous sports arena, and brilliantly managed the egos of the league’s coaches. Wolff writes: “Gavitt understood the importance of three factors: television, Madison Square Garden and Syracuse.” (PAGE 59)

The TV partnerships provided a stage for the larger than life coaching figures, such as John Thompson (and his white towel), Lou Carnesecca, Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Rick Pitino and Rollie Massimino, and star players like Ewing, Chris Mullin, Earl “The Pearl” Washington and Ed Pickney. The Big East saw plenty of early success—NCAA titles for Georgetown and Villanova in ’84 and ’85, three final four teams in ’85, and last second losses by Georgetown (’82), Syracuse (’87) and Seton Hall (’89) in title games. More recently, Connecticut (‘99, ’04, ’11) and Syracuse (’03) won titles as well.

However, the college sports landscape encouraged big-time college football members to chase TV and bowl money. Since 2004, the Big East has lost 19 members, including 16 in the past two years, three without ever playing a conference game. However, the biggest blow came two years ago when Syracuse announced it would join the ACC in 2013.

Wolff writes that their departure essentially finished the league. “Syracuse’s departure would result in nothing less than a mutation in the conference’s DNA, the equivalent of North Carolina or Duke joining the Big Ten or SEC.” (PAGE 57)

Wolf found a few pivotal moments that led to the eventual downfall of the Big East, such as league members not voting in to add Penn State in 1981, the addition of too many schools outside the conference’s original geographic footprint and the killer—league members turning down a $1.2 billion TV contract from ESPN in early 2011 (They signed a TV deal with ESPN last month at nearly 15% of what they could have collected).

Many feel that league still could have survived had they signed that TV deal in 2011, including Boeheim. He says: “Sign the original TV deal and nothing would have happened.” (PAGE 60)


The Art of Aaron Craft

Aaron Craft

After a sophomore season in which he was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft is wreaking havoc once again on both sides of the court, averaging 1.8 steals and  8.7 points per game this season. In this week’s Sports Illustrated, senior writer Alexander Wolff examines how Craft’s intelligence, experience as a high school football player, and dedication to studying opponents on film makes him as valuable in his own way to Ohio State as shot blockers like Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton were to UCLA in another era.

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta says Craft’s name would come up most often:

if you polled every coach in this league and asked who they’d want on defense if they’re up one with the other team running an isolation (PAGE 66).

Craft, an academic All-American (3.9 GPA), is almost too good to be true: he’s the first one in and out of the gym every day, he writes bible verses on his sneakers, still dates his high school sweetheart, can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 55 seconds and neither tweets nor follows anyone’s feed. Through the eyes of the most creative and intelligent defensive player in the game, his assignment isn’t so much a player to guard, it’s a problem to solve.

“He physically beat up our guards,” said Florida coach Billy Donavan after a loss to the Buckeyes last season. “And I’m not saying our guards got fouled. Totally within the context of the rules of the game, he manhandled them (PAGE 68).


Athletes Who Care

Athletes Who Care

The Power of Ten

In 1987, SI bestowed its highest honor on a group of sports figures dedicated to helping others. A quarter-century later, athletes are channeling the same passion and commitment to ever broader issues, on an ever widening scale.

Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals WR): Last spring the Cardinals’ All-Pro wideout visited drought-stricken Ethiopia with Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin, planting trees and assisting on an irrigation project in drought-plagued villages (page 5).

Chrissie Wellington (English Triathlete): The former U.K. government aid worker now dominates professional triathlon, and she carries on her activism in causes ranging from cancer awareness to female education in Nepal (page 6).

Didier Drogba (Ivorian Soccer Player): Africa’s most prominent soccer star has earmarked all of his millions in endorsement money to improving medical care and conditions in native Ivory Coast (page 7).

Grant Hill (LA Clippers Small Forward):  The NBA veteran has worked with Michele Obama’s antiobesity initiative and works to improve nutrition in inner cities (page 7).

Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever Forward): A hearing impairment didn’t slow her rise to basketball stardom, and now Catchings runs several programs aimed at building confidence in kids (page 9).

Steve Mesler (American Bobsledder): The U.S. bobsled gold medalist launched an initiative in which athletes promote the Olympic ideal through regular video chats with school kids (page 9).

Kelly Brush Davisson (Competitive handcyclist): After a ski injury, Brush turned to competitive handcycling and raises funds to subsidize adaptive sports equipment for disabled athletes (page 11).

Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers Pitcher): Just 24, the 2011 Cy Young winner and ’12 Clemente Award honoree built an orphanage in Zambia and supports a wide range of Stateside charities (page 11).

Brendon Ayanbadejo (Baltimore Ravens Linebacker): The veteran Ravens’ linebacker is a married and avowedly straight father of two. Yet he has been a happy warrior on the front lines of gay rights (page 12).

Roz Savage (British Ocean Rower): The lone woman to cross the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans solo is a leading practitioner in conservation and climate change (page 13).


This Week’s Issue: NBA Finals Preview – LeBron vs. Durant

NBA Finals Preview:  LeBron vs. Durant

Russell Westbrook Could Be the Leading Man in the NBA Finals

Andrew McCutchen Discovers That Being the Natural Is Not Enough

Manny Pacquaio’s Controversial Loss in Las Vegas Dealt Boxing a Crippling Blow

Sharapova’s and Nadal’s  French Open Victories were Achieved by Desire and Tenacity

The  Extraordinary Adventures of the 1956 Hungarian Olympic Team

(NEW YORK – June 6, 2012) – A new era in the NBA has arrived and it has taken two men to deliver it. LeBron James, 27, and Kevin Durant, 23, are the key players of this post-Kobe era, and each is seeking his first title at the other’s expense. The last Finals to launch a new generation with so much anticipation and promise was the showdown between the Lakers and the Celtics in 1984, when Magic Johnson’s Lakers lost to Larry Bird’s Celtics over seven memorable games. A look inside the much anticipated match-up of the two best players in the league during this year’s NBA Finals is the cover story for the June 18, 2012, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands now.

Unlike Johnson (a point guard) and Bird (a small forward), who rarely guarded each other, James and Durant will match up for a majority of their minutes, making for must-watch TV. The two players forged a friendship this past off-season. Durant spent four days in Akron working out with James, where they consoled each other about their shared troubles with the veteran Mavs, who had KO’d the Thunder last spring before upsetting the Heat in the Finals.

LeBron James said, “We pushed each other each and every day. I envisioned us getting to this point.”

LEADING MAN—CHRIS MANNIX (@ChrisMannixSI)

Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook may not be the biggest name in the Finals, but how well he runs the Thunder’s offense will determine which team goes home with a championship. Consider Westbrook’s job description: Don’t just score, create, and do it while keeping the turnovers down, the shooting percentage up and, oh, yeah, making sure the NBA’s scoring champ, Kevin Durant, is getting enough shots. Not since Allen Iverson has an elite point guard been asked to play such a multifaceted role.

Westbrook’s relationship with Durant has been dissected at a Kardashian level. Critics have wondered whether two alpha males can coexist, bringing up examples of discord (a well-publicized blowup on the bench in Memphis last December) and statistics (Westbrook’s hoisting up nearly as many shots as Durant in a bumpy 2011 playoffs) as proof that they can’t. What’s rarely cited is how Westbrook and Durant were inseparable during All-Star weekend or how the two routinely text each other about anything, from basketball to video games, late at night. Nor is it often noted that the duo scored more points per game (51.6) than any other tandem this season, or that when the game is tight, Westbrook defers: With a minute to play and the score within three points, Durant has attempted 37 shots, Westbrook eight.

Says Westbrook:“People keep trying to break me and Kevin up. But we just keep getting closer.”

BEING THE NATURAL ISN’T ENOUGH – JOSEPH LEMIRE (@SI_JoeLemire)

Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen was a naturally gifted high school ballplayer who was chosen 11th overall in a draft that has been hailed as one of the best in major league history.  McCutchen cruised through his first two years in the minors, dominating Rookie and Class A ball, but the moment he understood what it was to be a professional occurred when he faced adversity for the first time.  Struggling in Double A he recognized that for even the bluest of baseball’s blue chip prospects, his natural talent was not enough. After being presented with a list of flaws and recommended fixes, McCutchen looked his coach in the eye and said, “Let’s go do it.”

“Adversity is a great teacher,” says Pirates assistant G.M. Kyle Stark, who oversees player development. “Our philosophy here is that we’re trying to maximize what guys do naturally, so we want to see that before we change things.”

McCutchen is gunning to become part of an exclusive club: active players who have helped the Pirates finish .500. Pittsburgh is mired in a 19-year streak of losing seasons, but McCutchen sees reason to hope for the future of the organization. “Once that streak is beaten, you’re going to want something else,” McCutchen says. “Why not reach the playoffs and win the World Series? Why not do it all? Let’s open some eyes, man.”

WHAT WAS LOST IN LAS VEGAS—CHRIS MANNIX (@ChrisMannixSI)

After Manny Pacquiao lost his WBO welterweight title to Timothy Bradley, the boxing world was in turmoil. Last Saturday night, millions of boxing fans watched Pacquiao cruise to what appeared to be a comfortable 16th straight victory. Instead, the judges awarded a split-decision victory to Bradley, one of the worst calls in the history of boxing. Even boxing promoter Bob Arum said, “I’m ashamed for the sport.”

Lost in the controversy was an even bigger question: What’s next for Manny Pacquiao? The 33-year-old Filipino’s skills have diminished over time and fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. no longer has the allure it once did. The money will always be there but what boxing lost last Saturday may haunt it forever.

THE PLOT THICKENS (AGAIN)—L. JON WERTHEIM (@Jon_Wertheim)

Maria Sharapova has regained the top ranking and Rafael Nadal finally took down his chief rival, setting the stage for Wimbledon and the Olympics. The 2012 French Open represented seven rounds of gladiatorial Hunger Games. Yes, the champions—Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova—succeeded because they were able to pound a ball over a net with the greatest force and accuracy. In the end, though, they survived because they were driven by superior motivation, desire and tenacity.

Nadal rebounded to defeat his rival Novak Djokovic, who had defeated him seven straight times.  The last time the two met, Nadal suffered a heart-wrenching six-hour marathon match at the Australian Open, a defeat that even his closest friends thought may deflate his spirit.  The following evening Nadal calmly told them, “I lost last night, but now I know I can beat him again.”

Reaching the final brought Sharapova the No. 1 WTA ranking, and winning gave her the career Grand Slam—singles trophies from each of the four majors—a feat that many other champions (Monica Seles, Venus Williams, Justine Henin, Martina Hingis) never achieved. An hour after the final Sharapova was still digesting her accomplishment. “No matter how many how punches I took, I’ve always gotten back up,” she said.

REVOLUTION GAMES – ALEXANDER_WOLFF (@Alexander_Wolff)

Charred automobiles and rotting corpses lined the streets as members of the 1956 Hungarian Olympic team made their way to the Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. The team had more than just performance pressures on their shoulders as they traveled to the Olympics. Their home and their families were under attack as the Soviets invaded their homeland.

“The Olympics, the whole thing has lost its importance, its beauty, because of what’s happening back at home,” said a water polo player named Istvan Hevesi.

The Hungarian athletes’ greatest feat was beating the Soviets 4-0 in the water polo semifinals.  Despite the team’s overall success, many of the athletes’ experiences were less than ideal.  “All you’re thinking about is a decision you’ll be making that will affect the rest of your life,” said Hungarian diver Frank Siak.

That decision was whether to defect or return to a country under Soviet occupation. Those who decided to defect did so with the help of a young, struggling sports magazine, Sports Illustrated.

SCORECARD: DIFFERENT STROKES – LYNN SHERR  

Every fourth summer, the pageantry and drama of the Olympics set our hearts soaring and ignites our imagination. “Wow! Look at those swimmers,” we say to ourselves, buoyed by their splashy, churning performances and bobbing, smiling postrace pool play. “Did you see Michael Phelps dolphin-kick his way to the finish? It just looked so . . . easy!” Careful. The next sentence is the tricky one. It so often goes like this: “I could do that.” Actually, you couldn’t.

Guest contributor Lynn Sherr writes, “Elite swimmers are different from the tips of their oversized hands to their flippersized feet, all of which scoop up oceans of water. They even walk differently.”  

POINT AFTER: CASEY MARTIN’S VICTORY LAP– PHIL TAYLOR (@SI_PhilTaylor)

The U.S. Open will feature a familiar name this weekend, Casey Martin.   The golfer who earneda spot in the Open by winning a sectional qualifier last week is the same Casey Martin who was competitive enough to earn five top 50 tournament finishes in 2000 despite needing a golf cart to play. He waged a four-year legal fight to keep playing even though many fellow golfers opposed his right to ride. (The Supreme Court ruled 7–2 in his favor on Jan. 17, 2001.) But he’s also a different Casey Martin—no longer a member of the Tour, he’s now the Oregon golf coach, and at 40 far more intense about his Ducks’ performances than his own.

Casey Martin says, “The thing is, I don’t really play golf. At least, I don’t play rounds of golf very often. I’ll go out and beat some balls with my guys at practice, maybe get out there half an hour early and hit some shots, but I’ve probably only played 12, 15 rounds in the past year.”

INSIDE THE WEEK IN SPORTS

  • MLB (page 30): Adapt or Die– Six weeks ago, the Angels were headed to oblivion. Angels manager Mike Scioscia, one of the most successful in the league, has turned things around.  (@SI_BenReiter)
  • Horse Racing (page 36): Rags to Riches – In Belmont without I’ll Have Another, Union Rags delivered a victory that saved the day for racing. (@SITimLayden)
  • Olympics (page 32): Running For No. 1 – Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake’s strong performance at the Adidas Grand Prix sets up an intriguing battle with his famous countryman Usain Bolt at the Olympics in London.   (@SIDavidEpstein)

On the Tablet: Truth and Rumors

THIS WEEK’S FACES IN THE CROWD (page 24)

  • Bill Stanley (South Park, Pa./South Park High) – Track and Field
  • Kimmons Wilson (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park Crew) – Rowing
  • Chris Brown (North Chelmsford, Mass./Brandeis University) – Track and Field
  • Shantana Kanhoye (Queens, N.Y./John Adams High)- Flag Football
  • K.C. Wilson (Winter Springs, Fla./The Masters Academy) – Waterskiing
  • Alli Cash (Overland Park, Kans./Shawnee Mission West) –Track and Field

To submit a candidate for Faces in the Crowd, go to SI.com/faces. Follow on Twitter @SI_Faces.

 

-SI-


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