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Pearl’s Verdict Vs. Haith’s Verdict…Trying To Compare NCAA Cases Is Folly

haith-pearlIn their perfect world, most sports fans would like to see the NCAA handle rules violations as follows: My school gets a pass; everyone else gets firebombed.  And it doesn’t matter what the violations are.  Us good.  Them bad.  Let us go.  Crush them.

In their perfect world, most members of the sports media would like to see the NCAA handle rules violations as follows: If you do X, you are punished with Y.  Anyone doing X gets Y.  End of story.  All Xs are met with Ys.

Trouble is, neither group gets its way on this one.  Why?  Because the NCAA has been happy to smack big and small schools alike in recent decades (sorry, fans) and no two NCAA cases are exactly the same and therefore no two NCAA rulings are going to be exactly the same (sorry, media).

The NCAA’s legal process is very much like our own legal system.  If I get pulled over for driving 75 in a 55 zone, I might get out of the ticket if I’m apologetic and respectful toward the officer.  If I’m belligerent, I’m getting that ticket.  Exact same crime… two different punishments.

Think about it.  No two murder trials are the same.  If this person kills someone and that person kills someone else, there’s no guarantee that both criminals will get the exact same jail sentence.

I say this because Frank Haith’s five-game suspension at Missouri — announced today by the NCAA — has opened the crypt on Bruce Pearl’s three-year show cause penalty that is set to expire before next season.  Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com — a man who co-hosted a satellite radio show with Pearl — writes today that both Haith and Pearl lied to the NCAA.  But one got what was effectively a three-year ban (and his assistants got one-year bans) and the other got a five-game suspension.  The easy verdict: The NCAA was out to get Pearl or Tennessee (as some Vol fans will most certainly suggest) while giving a pass to Haith and Mizzou.

Parrish runs through the backstory of Pearl’s downfall.  The coach had a few high school juniors to his house for a barbecue.  That’s a no-no.  And Pearl would have likely received a slap on the wrist had he just fessed up.  He did not.  And neither did his assistants.  For lying to the NCAA the head coach and his aides were slapped around pretty good.  Even though Pearl eventually called the NCAA back for a second interview and admitted to lying during the first go-round, it was show causes for everyone.

Parrish also breaks down what he read in the NCAA’s report on Haith and his failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance while at Miami:

 

“… the most important thing you need to know is that the NCAA made a ‘factual conclusion’ that Haith changed his story multiple times about why he issued unusual ‘advanced checks’ to three assistants.  According to the report, Haith initially said the check were issued because the assistants ‘had personal obligations and were financially struggling’ before ultimately acknowledging that he wrote the check to create cash designated to repay former booster Nevin Shapiro in hopes of ensuring he wouldn’t talk about a number of things, including an allegation that Shapiro had used money to help secure a commitment from a basketball report named Dequan Jones.”

 

Parrish’s point is simple to understand: Pearl lied about a secondary violation and got a show cause penalty.  Haith lied about paying a booster hush money yet he only got a five-game sit-down.

Tennessee fans — and Pearl and his assistants — have a right to wonder what the heck’s going on with this one.  Missouri fans and Haith — as we wrote earlier today — should be breathing a sigh of relief over Haith’s punishment.

But for us as outsiders, it’s important to remember that we weren’t in the interview rooms for any of these debriefings.  Perhaps the NCAA’s investigators felt Pearl was being more elusive than Haith.  There’s no way to know.

Also, Parrish leaves out a couple of points regarding the Pearl situation.  The ex-Tennessee coach had previously been slapped on the wrist while at Wisconsin-Milwaukee for having a junior prospect at his house.  More importantly, Pearl also placed a phone call to the father of current-Ohio State guard Aaron Craft — one of the juniors who attended Pearl’s Knoxville barbecue — before the man had his own meeting with NCAA investigators.  According to the NCAA’s notice at the time, Pearl reportedly reminded Craft’s father that it was an NCAA violation for his family to attend the barbecue and that he had given them all the choice of attending.  Craft’s father — under NCAA pressure to fess up or see his own son punished — told investigators that he believed that Pearl was trying to influence his statements to the NCAA.

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SEC Headlines 6/9/2013

headlines-sun3-150x150SEC Football

1. Does Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel have a baseball future?  Drafted in the 29th round by the Boston Red Sox.

2. Oddsmakers expect a lot of close Florida games this year. “Of Florida’s 12 games, six of them have a spread of six points or less.”

3. A new border war battle in the SEC - Arkansas vs. Missouri.

4. Former Tennessee defensive back Daniel Gray has made it official – signed his grant-in-aid with Utah State.

5. Kevin Scarbinsky on Mississippi State’s NCAA penalties: “The slight Mississippi State penalties are just another sign that the NCAA’s law-and-order division is a shell of its former self.”

6. Current Denver Bronco and former Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller on Johnny Manziel’s NFL chances: “Him and Russell Wilson are definitely the same height, and you see the type of success Russell Wilson had. I think he’ll definitely have success.”

7. Auction for Nick Saban lake house property delayed three weeks because of  ”a surge of late interest.”

SEC/College News

8. Mark Story:  ”Most Wildcats fans I encounter seem almost giddy over the state of UK athletics.”

9. Chad Jones played football and baseball at LSU.   Drafted by the NFL’s New York Giants in 2010, he was drafted by MLB’s Cincinnati Reds on Friday.

10. Former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro reportedly claiming he used inside information from Miami coaches to bet on football games.

11. Can college athletics be reformed? “The question is whether anyone is brave enough to pursue them.”

12. Academic fraud scandal cost North Carolina more than $500,000 – in public relations bills.

13. Want to buy Terrelle Prior’s 2008 Big Ten title ring?

SEC Basketball

14. Joe Walljasper on a current Memphis Tiger and former Missouri Tiger: “What do you do with a problem like Michael Dixon?”

Extras

15. Arizona State baseball player Cory Hahn’s career lasted three games – he was paralyzed in 2011.  The Arizona Diamondbacks made him their 34th round selection on Saturday.

16. 19-year old Hank Aaron’s pivotal 1953 season in Jacksonville. Hit .362 but committed 36 errors – as a second baseman.

17. Does Tennessee have the best looking girls in the SEC?

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SEC Headlines – 5/27/13 (Memorial Day Edition)

2008 Memorial Day Poster #2SEC Football

1.  LSU AD Joe Alleva on dumping permanent cross-division rivals: “I think there’s a shot, but I wouldn’t put very good odds on it.”

2.  Tiger coach Les Miles can’t stop crying about having to play Florida.

3.  We know you’re wondering — Who is Ole Miss’ 67th most important player?  Why backup quarterback Maikhail Miller, of course.

4.  Georgia’s Mark Richt says he’s discovered some real talent at previous summer camps… and the dates are set for this year’s UGA camps.

5.  The Dawgs’ fifth most important player for 2013 is linebacker Jordan Jenkins.  (No word on #67.)

6.  South Carolina AD Ray Tanner on why people in Columbia love Steve Spurrier: “He didn’t have to come here, and his intentions are to remain here.”

7.  Tennessee’s Butch Jones has quickly built a solid foundation of support.

8.  This writer believes it’s time for the SEC to go to a nine-game conference schedule.

SEC Basketball

9.  Tennessee has landed a replacement for departing point guard Trae Golden — former Memphis point guard Antonio Barton plans to transfer in and play immediately.

Extras

10.  Congrats to LSU, SEC baseball tournament champions after beating Vanderbilt.

11.  Nevin Shapiro has now admitted to lying on the witness stand during the trial that sent the ex-Miami booster to prison.  Shapiro’s claims about improprieties at Miami are at the heart of the NCAA’s case against the Hurricanes.

12.  New Rutgers AD Julie Hermann — under fire for alleged acts 16 years agogets some backing from former colleagues.

13.  Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson says he’ll be back in school and on the team by 2014.

14.  Cars were damage and 10 fans were injured when a cable for FOX’s overhead camera fell on the track during the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte yesterday.

15.  This Memorial Day, take time to remember the reason for the holiday.

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Boom! The NCAA’s Investigation Into Miami (And All Those Former Miami Coaches) Has Been Compromised

shocked-surprised-man-blackandwhiteLet’s get one thing straight right out of the gate — in college athletics, the NCAA serves as police department, prosecuting attorney, judge, jury, and appellate court.  So when the NCAA messes up its own investigation into a school or coaches, well, it’s up to the NCAA to decide just how badly it messed up.

Having said that, the NCAA called a press conference today to admit that it had screwed up its investigation into the University of Miami athletic department and all those many coaches now employed elsewhere (meaning: Missouri’s Frank Haith and Alabama’s Jeff Stoutland and Joe Pannunzio).  According to a press release put out by the NCAA:

 

“Former NCAA enforcement staff members worked with the criminal defense attorney for Nevin Shapiro to improperly obtain information for the purposes of the NCAA investigation through a bankruptcy proceeding that did not involve the NCAA.

As it does not have subpoena power, the NCAA does not have the authority to compel testimony through procedures outside of its enforcement program.  Through bankruptcy proceeding, enforcement staff gained information for the investigation that would not have been accessible otherwise…

As it relates to the Miami investigation, the NCAA will not move forward with a Notice of Allegations until all the facts surrounding this issue are known.”

 

NCAA president Mark Emmert added: “I have been vocal in the past regarding the need for integrity by NCAA member schools, athletics administrators, coaches, and student-athletes.  That same commitment to integrity applies to all of us in the NCAA national office… To say the least, I am angered and saddened by this situation.  Trust and credibility are essential to our regulatory tasks.  My intent is to ensure our investigatory functions operate with integrity and are fair and consistent with out member schools, athletics staff and most importantly our student-athletes.”

The takeaway?  Everyone involved in the Miami mess might just walk thanks to a technicality.

Think of our favorite police procedural on television.  Cop X goes into a house looking for someone/something and finds evidence of a murder.  But Cop X didn’t have a proper warrant.  So the evidence discovered can’t be used in court.  And the murderer walks.

This isn’t television and none of the Miami coaches (current or former) have been accused of killing anyone, but the gist is the same.  Some NCAA investigators apparently overstepped their bounds while evidence-gathering and now they’ve compromised the NCAA’s case against Miami, Haith, Stoutland, Pannunzio or any other ex-Hurricane coach who stood to receive a notice of allegations.

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An NCAA Show-Cause Penalty Would Likely Lead To Haith’s Ouster At Mizzou

Image: Miami Hurricanes head coach Frank Haith watches his team play the North Carolina Tar Heels during their NCAA men's basketball game at the 2011 ACC Tournament in GreensboroFor 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…

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Bama’s Pannunzio Further Implicated In Miami Case

Alabama’s first-year director of football operations, Joe Pannunzio, has been further implicated in the University of Miami scandal that grabbed headlines last month.  As the NCAA digs into everything that happened at The U, they’re finding that “a few former players” are rolling over on past Hurricane assistants… including Pannunzio.

The father of one current Miami player told The Miami Herald this week that his son told investigators that he met cash-tossing booster Nevin Shapiro via Pannunzio:


“How did my son meet this creep?  He would never have met Shapiro without Pannunzio.  To have one of the coaches deliver him up to this guy, it’s incredible.”


Nick Saban said in August that Pannunzio and fellow ex-Hurricane assistant Jeff Stoutland — now Bama’s O-line coach — both passed background checks before being hired last offseason.

Anybody wanna bet that Pannunzio and Stoutland won’t be working in Tuscaloosa after this season?  (From the looks of him, Pannunzio might be able to land a gig taping guns behind old-fashioned toilet boxes for the Corleones.)

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Now The Focus Turns To Coaches Involved In Scandal

While the NCAA is clearing Nevin Shapiro-named players left and right, Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News has turned his attention to the ex-Miami coaches accused of rules violations in the Yahoo! Sports report.  Specifically, Solomon tracked down attorney Michael Buckner — who often deals in NCAA cases — and asked him about how Alabama should handle the cases of director of football operations Joe Pannunzio and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.

Buckner’s answers would also likely apply to Florida’s handling of receivers coach Aubrey Hill, who was also named in the Miami investigation.

“If I was Alabama, I would conduct my own internal inquiry in conjunction with the enforcement staff.  If there are alleged activities going on with current staff members at other schools, are they continuing those activities at Alabama?  Alabama can’t afford any significant allegations at this point since they’re on probation.”

While Florida isn’t on probation, they should obviously want to know what type of activities Hill has been up to since joining Will Muschamp’s staff.

Focusing again on Bama’s new coaches, Buckner said:

“If what was in the report was true, then I think (Stoutland and Pannunzio) would be prominent in any notice of allegations.  Whether that rises to a major for them, that’s the question.  Normally, that would just be a secondary, although the enforcement staff can use patterns of secondaries to be a major.  It’s what’s not in the story that the enforcement staff is going to have to uncover.”

Here’s what’s interesting about all this from our perspective — had the NCAA not cleared so quickly the players named in the Miami probe, it probably would have been best for Georgia and Florida to sit Orson Charles, Andre Debose and Matt Patchan until they all received proper NCAA clearance.  Had the schools played those athletes and the NCAA later ruled that they were ineligible, the schools probably would have been forced to vacate or forfeit games.  (Since the NCAA has deemed them all eligible, this is no longer a concern.)

However, in the case of coaches, there is no such threat of forfeited victories.  So as long as Alabama and Florida are sure that their coaches are clean in their current work, those schools need not worry about what the NCAA might dig up on Stoutland, Pannunzio and Hill from their Miami days.  Their actions in Coral Gables won’t come back to harm their current employers (except in terms of reputation).

Consider that another little oddity of the NCAA rulebook.

In theory, players caught cheating can be ruled retroactively ineligible and schools playing them can be made to forfeit games… thus it’s usually safer to sit players facing questions.  Coaches caught cheating can not be ruled retroactively “ineligible,” so schools might as well keep them on staff until the NCAA’s findings are in.

Fair?

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Debose, Patchan In The Clear At Florida

There’s good news in Gainesville this morning as the University of Florida has announced that the two Gators mentioned in the Yahoo! Sports probe of Miami’s football program will not face eligibility issues.


“We have been in communication with the NCAA and there are no eligibility issues with Andre Debose and Matt Patchan as it relates to recent reports.  Andre, Matt nor the University of Florida will have any additional comments regarding this matter.”


Florida officials had already put out a statement backing receivers coach Aubrey Hill who was also named in ex-Miami booster Nevin Shapiro’s many, many claims.

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