April 15, 2013 in Sports

NCAA: Hurricanes ‘grasping at straws’

Miami moved to have case against it dismissed
Tim Reynolds Associated Press
 

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The NCAA office that investigated Miami athletics believes the Hurricanes are “grasping at straws” such as making personal attacks against investigators in their efforts to get the case against them dismissed.

That stance, and others, are part of the response that was signed by Jonathan F. Duncan, the NCAA’s interim vice president of enforcement, in response to a motion Miami filed with the association’s Committee on Infractions to have the case brought to an end.

“Overall, the enforcement staff believes that the institution is again grasping at straws in an attempt to disqualify members of the enforcement team with the most knowledge about the case,” Duncan wrote in the response, a copy of which was obtained Sunday by the Associated Press.

In late March, citing impropriety by the NCAA throughout the investigation, the Hurricanes asked the Committee on Infractions – a group separate from the association’s investigative arm – to throw out the case.

Miami’s motion to dismiss included allegations that the NCAA used “impermissible and unethical” tactics when interviewing former coaches, that the association misled the school on other issues, and other claims of wrongdoing.

One of Miami’s biggest questions about the investigation has revolved around why the NCAA did not interview former Hurricanes athletic director Paul Dee, who died in May 2012.

Dee was Miami’s A.D. for much of the time that the former booster at the center of the scandal, convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro, was providing impermissible benefits to athletes, coaches and recruits.

Duncan’s motion suggested that the NCAA was targeting June 2012 as the right time to interview Dee, who had battled health issues for many years.

“Because Dee’s death was unexpected, the enforcement staff could not have predicted that he would not be available for an interview in June 2012,” Duncan wrote.

Duncan’s response also strongly defended investigators Brynna Barnhart and Stephanie Hannah.

Miami alleged that Barnhart misled the school about the circumstances surrounding a a February 2012 interview the NCAA conducted with former Hurricanes quarterback Kyle Wright, and that Hannah should have been disqualified from the case because the extent of her relationship with Shapiro attorney Maria Elena Perez was not revealed to the school.

“Not only are these personal attacks based on no evidence that would support the removal of Barnhart and Hannah from the case, they are also not a basis for dismissal of the case in its entirety,” Duncan wrote.

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