Funny why hasn't John Calipari ever had to face the music for all of his NCAA infractions committed at his former schools? Sounds to me like right now the NCAA is starting to come under major scrutiny for how it handles these investigations after recent news has leaked out that they paid Shapiro's attorney to obtain information outside of normal NCAA protocal. My guess is this whole mess will end up in a court system with the NCAA losing very badly and further damaging it's already substandard reputation. Furthermore, how come the NCAA takes what Shapiro says seriously when he says he paid Miami athletes but doesn't take him seriously when he says he couldn't afford to pay SEC football players as they were already being paid outside of his price range? Sort of fishy to me and reminds me of the whole Cam Newton debacle.
For the past week, we’ve been in a bit of an online debate with a few Missouri fans who took offense to our suggestion on the 17th that Frank Haith’s lawyer appeared to be “prepping Mizzou fans for bad news.” In their view, the NCAA can not punish the Tiger program for violations Haith may have committed while coaching at Miami.
Well, it’s true that the NCAA isn’t going to hit Missouri with charges over any Miami mistakes. However — and this is what those few holdouts still fail to grasp — MU can still be punished indirectly if the NCAA decides to go after Haith. A recent SEC example: Bruce Pearl and Tennessee.
The NCAA did not drop the hammer on the Vol basketball program in 2011, as many Big Orange fans had feared. But once it became clear Pearl was to be hit with a show-cause penalty (three years in his case), the school was effectively forced to dismiss him. The Vol program is still trying to recover despite the fact that technically the NCAA levied more punishments on UT’s ex-coach than on UT’s program.
Yesterday, CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman reported that a source “close to the situation” had revealed that Haith would soon receive notice from the NCAA that he would be charged with unethical conduct and a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. You know who else was hit with both of those charges? Yep, Pearl.
In Haith’s case, the NCAA has reportedly been unable to prove that former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro gave $10,000 to Haith’s staff to pay for the services of former Hurricane DeQuan Jones. That’s the claim made by Shapiro. But the NCAA still intends to hit Missouri’s coach with an unethical conduct charge because it believes — and Shapiro’s mother has confirmed — that money allegedly given to Haith’s assistants for “camp money” actually went back to Shapiro as repayment for the cash he provided to ink Jones. In addition, Haith and three aides will face punishment for providing impermissible airline travel for two Miami players and for allowing interaction between Shapiro and Hurricane recruits during their visits to Coral Gables.
Haith said last evening that he and Missouri officials are “in constant contact with the NCAA all the time about this case, (and)… it’s inappropriate for me to say anything other than just that.”
The university put out its own statement:
“The University of Missouri is aware of today’s story from CBS Sports. The University has been in communication with the NCAA regarding their ongoing efforts related to the University of Miami investigation. Coach Haith and the University of Missouri continue to cooperate fully. However, we are not at liberty to comment further out of respect for the NCAA process.”
If Goodman’s source is corrrect and Haith is charged with unethical conduct and failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance, he’ll have 90 days to respond to the allegations. A hearing would follow in the summer and then a decision would come sometime between the fall and the end of the year.
Haith’s attorney, Michael Buckner, wasn’t exactly thrilled with Goodman’s report:
“Until my client, Frank Haith, receives a notice of allegations from the NCAA, the CBSSports.com report is premature. The NCAA’s investigation in the University of Miami enforcement case is ongoing…
It is unfortunate that CBSSports.com’s unnamed source believed violating the NCAA confidentiality rule was worthwhile. The report did not advance anyone’s interests (except the source’s) and is making a mockery of what is supposed to be a fair process.”
Buckner went on to say that “any allegations asserted by Nevin Shapiro against my client cannot be supported.”
NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn has said the NCAA does “not have a comment at this time.”
Armed with all that background info, there are still two major questions in need of answering…
What happens to Haith?
If history is any indication, there’s a good chance Haith will not be coaching Missouri this time next year.
If Goodman’s source is correct, the NCAA believes Haith gave investigators false information. Due to the NCAA’s lack of subpoena power, lying to its investigators is as big a sin in the eyes of the governing body as paying a player. For that reason, the misleading of investigators almost always results in a show-cause penalty… and show-cause penalties always result in dismissals for football and men’s basketball coaches. Head coach or assistant coach, winning coach or losing coach, a show-cause ban is the closest thing to an NCAA death sentence.
Most often, school administrators do not want a coach living under a show-cause cloud to tarnish the institution’s name. And in Haith’s case, a clause in his contract gives MU the right to fire him for “any behavior of the Employee that brings him into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule or any behavior that is unfavorable to the reputation or moral or ethical standards of the University.” Haith’s contract even covers “any violation which occurred during prior employment of the Employee at another NCAA member institution.”
If he’s hit with a show-cause penalty, it shouldn’t be too tough for Missouri to fire Haith for “cause” and escape without paying him one penny of buyout cash.
For those Tiger fans who would prefer Mizzou just ride things out with Haith, are you prepared to have Haith’s situation brought up during every single broadcast of an MU basketball game? Are you prepared for a national debate — played out from ESPN to your favorite local talk radio station — over whether or not Mizzou embarrassed itself by keeping an “unethical” coach on its payroll? Do you believe your school’s administrators and biggest boosters are prepared for that kind of negative publicity?
Tennessee’s boosters and administrators weren’t when it came to the highly-successful Pearl. Ohio State boosters and administrators weren’t when it came to their highly-successful football coach, Jim Tressel. The people charged with running an institution of higher learning typically don’t stand by a coach if his firing alone will snuff out wave after wave of bad press.
This, of course, all hinges on whether or not Goodman’s report is correct and whether or not Haith could convince the NCAA of his innocence during a hearing.
Now, there is one difference in this potential show-cause case and most others — Haith’s violations came at another school. A show-penalty essentially prevents a coach from committing violations at one school, getting that school in trouble, and then moving on to another school unscathed. If a coach is given a show-cause penalty, any school wanting to hire him would have to go before the NCAA and show cause for why that school should not be hit with penalties for hiring the coach in question.
In Haith’s case, he’s already been hired by Missouri. But for those thinking that’s a loophole, refer back to the previous paragraphs regarding the tarnishing of a school’s image. Quite simply, the stink created by just looking for a loophole — even if the coach is 43-9 like Haith — has been too great for all other major programs to ignore. And if Mizzou did fight to keep Haith — and Haith was not able to talk his way out of the NCAA doghouse — the Tiger program could still be penalized. Not for the issues in Miami, mind you, but for hiring and keeping someone hit with a show-cause penalty (for his issues in Miami).
This was an issue at Tennessee and at Ohio State. Once the NCAA dropped tough penalties on Pearl and Tressel rather than stiff penalties on their programs, fans of both schools wondered why their coaches couldn’t have survived considering how small the schools’ penalties turned out to be. But the schools’ decisions to fire both coaches led to lighter sentences for the schools. Had Tennessee and/or Ohio State kept their coaches, the schools likely would have been hit with much harder sanctions.
If the NCAA feels that Haith is a dirty coach and it wants to punish him for his deeds at Miami, it can punish him for those deeds while he’s at Missouri. For example, if Mizzou ignored the show-cause penalty and chose to keep him, there would be nothing to stop the NCAA from hitting Haith with a three-year recruiting ban. How do you think the Tiger basketball program would fare if its head coach couldn’t hit the road, scout AAU games, or even meet with recruits during their official visits to campus?
If Goodman’s source is correct and Haith can’t talk his way out of this, Missouri’s coach in 2013 probably won’t be walking the Tiger sideline in 2014.
What happens to Missouri?
The Tiger athletic department recently announced a $200 million plan to renovate and upgrade athletic facilities across its campus over the next decade. New revenue from the school’s move to the Southeastern Conference will help to pay for those projects. But revenue from the cash cow sport of football will be key as well. And Missouri’s football program appears to have a steep learning curve ahead of it after a rough first year in the SEC.
Upon its entry into the league, Missouri’s basketball program was expected to serve as the Tigers’ calling card. Indeed, Haith’s team — despite injuries and suspensions — is one of three league teams that would most likely land an NCAA bid if the tournament began today. But if Haith goes, how big of a step backward does Missouri basketball take?
If football struggles again next fall and the school is forced to make a change at the top of its basketball program, how safe, then, is athletic director Mike Alden? Alden is the man who made the surprising hire of Haith when Mike Anderson jetted from Columbia for Arkansas. While the Yahoo! Sports report that blew this story sky high was still months away, the NCAA was already five months into its investigation of Miami when Alden tabbed Haith (much to the disappointment of many MU fans). Did Alden do enough due diligence on Haith before hiring him?
According to Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton in August of 2011, the school’s background check on Haith was thorough. “Everything came back very clear, very positive,” he said shortly after the Shapiro’s allegations made national headlines. “(It) left us assured that his was an individual (Haith) that would provide the leadership we desire at the University of Missouri. We feel good about the process.”
Alden had better hope the power brokers in Columbia still feel good about the process today, 17 months later.
Pinkel — fairly or not — will enter the 2013 season on warm-to-hot seat. The threat of serious NCAA penalties might lead to Haith’s ouster. If Pinkel and Haith are in hot water, there boss, Alden, likely will be, too. And to complicate matters, it’s Alden who’s driving the bus on that expensive renovation project we mentioned earlier.
These are troubled times for Missouri. And they look to get a little bit worse before they get better.