By MICHAEL MAROT
INDIANAPOLIS — The man who looked into the NCAA’s botched investigation involving the University of Miami said Thursday he was aware multiple NCAA officials knew about the arrangement with Nevin Shapiro’s attorney during the improper collection of evidence and that the information was included in the report released last month.
What was excluded: That Director of enforcement Stephanie Hannah continued providing questions to Maria Elena Perez, Shapiro’s attorney, after taking over for Ameen Najjar even though the NCAA’s legal counsel advised against it.
The report’s author, attorney Kenneth Wainstein, cited two passages in the document that explained Hannah, like others in the enforcement department, believed the governing body’s legal counsel approved the deal. He said the information about the questions was left out because it wasn’t pertinent to the report’s ultimate findings — who was at fault.
“The one thing people have asked is why didn’t we reference the fact that she provided questions? It didn’t change the equation, for the purposes of responsibility,” Wainstein said. “The other thing people want to know is whether the NCAA had some influence on what we should include or not include in the report. The bottom line is we decided what went in the report.”
A report Wednesday night suggested the NCAA was trying to cover up the fact that more than one investigator was involved in gathering information through a third party that was conducting depositions in a bankruptcy case.
The admission of wrongdoing has caused consternation inside and outside the NCAA’s headquarters in Indy.
But Wainstein defended the report by noting that on Page 22, there was a footnote that acknowledged at least three members of the enforcement staff —- including Hannah and Brynna Barnhart, the associate director of enforcement — were aware the NCAA was providing questions to Perez. It went on to say Hannah understood there was “common work” being performed between the job Perez was doing for Shapiro and the NCAA and that’s why the questions were sent to Perez.
Shapiro has been convicted of masterminding a Ponzi-scheme and has alleged he provided improper benefits to dozens of Miami football and basketball players.
Later, on Page 45, Hannah was the identified by name in a list of key figures involved in the investigation.
In that section, Wainstein wrote that Hannah was “aware of the arrangement with Perez, but did not realize that the NCAA was paying for Ms. Perez’s services until she started receiving invoices and emails seeking payment from Ms. Perez in the summer and fall of 2012” and that because of the open nature of the deal and the number of people aware of it, the outside investigators determined it was “understandable” Hannah did not question the arrangement.
Najjar no longer works for the NCAA and Julie Roe Lach, then the vice president for enforcement, left her job March 1, two weeks after the report went public.
Now, as Wainstein continues his work on another report that is expected to include recommendations about how to prevent a future incident, he finds himself explaining his team’s work.
“If you read the report, it makes clear that everybody knew about this,” Wainstein said. “We knew that all the people who were identified knew about it at various points in working with this, so a number of people are mentioned in the report.”
NCAA President Mark Emmert and Wainstein have said all information collected improperly had been removed from the formal case against the Hurricanes, who are facing a series of charges including the dreaded lack of institutional control based on the accusation that school officials did not properly monitor and control Shapiro.
Perez is now the subject of a Florida Bar probe, related to her work with the NCAA.
Miami is expected to appear before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions June 14. University officials, including president Donna Shalala and athletic director Blake James, have said in recent weeks that they believe Miami should not face additional sanctions other than those already self-imposed, such as forfeiting the chance to play in two bowl games and last season’s Atlantic Coast Conference football championship game.
Wainstein did not discuss the infractions case against Miami.