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Could the NCAA’s latest gaffe create a change to enforcement practices?

Jan 23, 2013, 3:57 PM EDT

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The NCAA suffered yet another embarrassing blow on Wednesday as it was revealed that they may have botched the seemingly-ironclad case that Charles Robinson and Yahoo! handed them involving Miami booster Nevin Shapiro.

You can find more details about the NCAA investigation into violations that occurred during an NCAA investigation of possible NCAA violations — That sentence just about sums it up, dontcha think? — and how it could affect current Missouri and former Miami coach Frank Haith here, but in short: the NCAA got access to bankruptcy proceeding they weren’t supposed to get access to, and they did so while Shapiro’s attorney was billing them for work he did.

This is yet another embarrassment for the NCAA’s enforcement staff. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that one of the main reasons Shabazz Muhammad was only forced to sit out threes games this season was because of a conversation that was overheard on a plane where the boyfriend on an investigator was bragging about how Shabazz would never be allowed to play. That occurred just days before a judge ruled that the investigation into for USC football coach Todd McNair was “malicious” and “over the top”.

And based on what NCAA president Mark Emmert said on a teleconference on Wednesday afternoon, it may be the last time we see an investigation go this way.

“I’m very concerned about it,” Emmert said of the recent problems involving the NCAA’s investigative arm. “The reality is there is alwasys going to be criticisms of an enforcement process. When it comes to credibility and integrity, we have to make sure that it absolutely is at the forefront of mind in all of these activities. When you have several issues that call that into question, you have to pause and make sure you have those things right.”

Emmert has called in an outside law firm to review the NCAA’s investigation. He’ll also be asking that law firm to review the NCAA’s enforcement processes as a whole.

“I’ll ask this firm also to continue their work to look into whether or not we have similar problem of any kind in the enforcement operation and the broader regulatory role,” he said. “It’s the whole regulatory envirooment that needs to operate in a way that gives us great confidence, and right now that isn’t the case.”

He’s saying the right things.

The NCAA has a major PR problem if their investigations into improper conduct involve their own improper conduct. How can anyone trust that anything the NCAA does is above board after watching them repeatedly backtrack over recent months? The majority of the people that are paying attention believe that the NCAA’s current structure is a joke, and they aren’t helping themselves at all with black eyes like this continually popping up.

You have to think that something is going to change as a result of this news.

But we’ve thought that the NCAA has to change the way they handle rules violations for a long time. Why would things be any different now?

Perhaps the best question to ask is this: Why now? From CBSSports.com’s Bruce Feldman:

AsĀ CBSSports.com reported in September, the NCAA came to South Florida on Dec. 19, 2011 — the day that former Miami assistant equipment man Sean Allen testified after having been subpoenaed in Shapiro’s federal bankruptcy case. Allen told CBS that he spotted NCAA investigator Ameen Najjar in the room. Allen requested that Najjar be removed from the room. The NCAA investigator was told to leave, but clearly Najjar and the NCAA had been working with Shapiro’s attorney.

So the NCAA was tagging along with Shapiro’s attorney back in Dec. of 2011, but it took until the week that the Notice of Allegations were supposed to be released for the NCAA to realize they did something wrong? Who found out about the fact that the NCAA paid Shapiro’s attorney? Did someone get into the NCAA’s ear? Were lawsuits threatened?

Will that be enough to get the NCAA to make changes?

Because I can’t imagine how much longer the schools are going to be willing to put up with this kind of thing for much longer.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

 

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