Haith, others may wait months for Miami resolution
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Sports Writer
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — When Frank Haith first spoke this week about the allegations against him as part of the NCAA’s investigation into Miami, the Missouri basketball coach talked about how relieved he is that the long process is nearing an end.
That may be wishful thinking.
The NCAA has told Haith and others involved in the Miami matter that their cases may not be heard until July — so any penalties that are forthcoming might not arrive until next fall, at least.
On Wednesday, Missouri released documents that the NCAA sent Haith as part of the notice of allegations against Miami, where he coached from 2004 through 2011. Two key dates jump out in the NCAA’s planning: May 20, when responses by those named in the allegations are due, and an undetermined period in July — when the governing body for college athletics is planning to convene its Committee on Infractions.
That is, “unless all parties ... agree to a shortened response time,” the NCAA said.
And that could happen. If not, this long saga — which most people weren’t aware of until August 2011, though in actuality started nearly a year earlier — may just keep dragging along.
That doesn’t mean progress isn’t happening. Miami President Donna Shalala is expected to talk to the infractions committee during their meeting later this week — she’ll be on the phone and it’s not expected to be “a formal hearing for Miami at this point,” said a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the information was not to be publicly released.
The AP reported Tuesday night, when the NCAA’s allegations were delivered to Miami, that Haith was hit with a charge of failure “to promote an atmosphere for compliance.” Missouri confirmed that Wednesday.
The charge stems from his actions when former booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro — whose claims sparked this investigation — allegedly wanted money in exchange for not going public with accusations that he paid to help the Hurricanes recruit a player. The same accusation also included Jake Morton, a former member of Haith’s staff at Miami.
“After learning of the threat, Haith failed to alert anyone in the athletics department administration about Shapiro’s threat, ask reasonable questions of Morton to ensure that Shapiro’s claim lacked merit or disclose the fact that Morton engaged in financial dealings with Shapiro,” read Haith’s portion of the notice of allegations. “Rather, Haith gave Morton funds that Morton then provided to Shapiro.”
Missouri has been told by the NCAA that it does not face any possible sanctions, but that Haith’s ability to coach may be affected “if he is found in violation” of rules.
“Missouri, while not a subject of this NCAA investigation, will continue to monitor the process,” the school said in a release.
Haith is one of a handful of former Miami coaches who were named in the report. Another former member of his staff, Jorge Fernandez, is one of three former Hurricanes assistants who the NCAA believe provided false or misleading information during the probe into the Hurricanes’ athletic department.
Also on that list with Fernandez: Former football assistants Clint Hurtt, now a coach at Louisville, and former Miami and Florida football assistant Aubrey Hill.
The NCAA said all three violated “principles of ethical conduct” as part of the notice of allegations served against the Hurricanes, according to a person who spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity because the allegations were not yet released publicly.
Other coaches are named or referenced in the allegations, but only Hurtt, Hill and Fernandez are facing the ethical-conduct charge, commonly known as NCAA Rule 10.1.
Miami is facing the charge that it had a “lack of institutional control” — one of the worst things the NCAA can levy against a member school. The charge revolves around how the school allegedly failed to monitor the conduct of Shapiro, a convicted Ponzi scheme architect who provided cash, gifts and other items to players, coaches and recruits.
Shalala’s stance is that Miami has already suffered enough through self-imposed sanctions. She declined to comment further on Wednesday.
The NCAA alleged Hurtt and Hill provided meals, transportation and lodging to a small number of recruits, current players, or both. Both were interviewed by the NCAA during the probe and allegedly denied providing those extra benefits, statements the NCAA said were contradicted by players.
Hurtt also took a $2,500 personal loan from Shapiro, which was repaid. The NCAA also believes he sent about 40 impermissible text messages to recruits.
Fernandez, the NCAA alleged, “knowingly provided extra benefits” in the form of an air ticket. The NCAA said Fernandez denied using air miles for the tickets for a men’s basketball player and a high school coach, despite evidence to the contrary.
Several other former Miami coaches are named in the allegations as well, including Morton, who the NCAA said accepted “supplemental income” of at least $6,000 from Shapiro. Morton is now on the staff at Western Kentucky.
Also named in the report is former Miami football assistant Joe Pannunzio, who was found to have sent about 30 impermissible text messages. Pannunzio is now on the staff at Alabama, and is not believed to be facing major penalties.
Some of the allegations in the NCAA’s letter are more than 10 years old, including one in which Shapiro allegedly bought a suit for former Miami star running back Willis McGahee to wear to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in 2002.
Other allegations include that he paid for dinners at Benihana, televisions, sneakers, Miami Heat tickets, bowling parties, one player’s engagement ring, a used washer-dryer set for current New England Patriots lineman Vince Wilfork, and that he directed his girlfriend to give two former Hurricanes no-show jobs for a couple of months.