In a comprehensive story in this week’s Sports Illustrated, senior writers Pete Thamel and Alexander Wolff go inside the Nevin Shapiro case at Miami and explore how the NCAA mishandled it. Here is some additional information that doesn’t appear in the story. For the complete magazine story and to buy a digital version of the issue, go here.
On May 11, 2011, all NCAA employees were required to attend a day-long meeting that began at the ballroom of the J.W. Marriott near NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.
When the employees returned to the NCAA’s offices that day, they found banners featuring corporate buzzwords like communication, accountability and inclusion had replaced banners of famous athletes and inspirational quotes. The sidewalks and bridge near NCAA headquarters featured similar messages.
The day marked the grand rollout of One Team One Future, one of NCAA president Mark Emmert’s internal initiatives to improve the work culture at the NCAA.
What unfolded epitomizes Emmert’s two-and-a-half-year NCAA tenure — plenty of flash with little tangible results. When NCAA employees arrived at their desks that day, their computer screen savers and phone backdrops were adorned with One Team One Future logos. But they weren’t quite prepared for the grand rollout, with Emmert’s introduction coming by a voice-of-God narrator amid a backdrop of music, strobe lights and video.
“It’s the Jim Carrey movie Yes Man, where he goes to that big inspirational thing,” says former NCAA investigator Abby Grantstein. “The culture of the NCAA wasn’t like that before, and you can’t change it in one day.”
She added that the message was clear: “It was like, ‘Get on the bus or go home.’”
SI spoke with more than 20 current or former NCAA employees about the troubles of the NCAA enforcement staff for a lengthy story in this week’s Sports Illustrated. A portrait emerged of a department battered by turnover, afraid of lawsuits and overwhelmed by scandal. One ex-enforcement official told SI, “The time is ripe to cheat. There’s no policing going on.”
In many interviews with NCAA officials about enforcement, the topic quickly shifted back to the leadership of Emmert, who is known internally at the NCAA as the “King Of The Press Conference.” That’s not a compliment.
One of the biggest criticisms of Emmert is his desire to be in the spotlight. (Emmert declined multiple requests to speak with SI for this story. Spokesman Bob Williams says Emmert’s increased public profile has been at the request of the NCAA’s Executive Committee.)
Even one of Emmert’s supporters could come up with few positives for One Team One Future, calling the rollout “mechanical.” The NCAA employee compared it to an Apple shareholder meeting. “Some of that may have rubbed people the wrong way,” the person said. “I think it reflects the approach and style that Emmert brought to the position, whether that’s good or bad, it’s the reality of it.”
The reality is that NCAA culture needs to change, as it’s entering a time of great transition. The enforcement staff is fighting the perception that it’s meek, and many of its most talented investigators have left the association.
When talking to a dozen college officials to get a pulse on Emmert, many struggled to answer the question, “What has he actually accomplished so far in his tenure?” Even the harsh sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal ($60 million fine, four-year bowl ban and the loss of 40 scholarships over four years) has painted Emmert in a bad light after he went on a television tour, which some perceived as a victory lap, to talk about the unprecedented action by the NCAA.
The NCAA has failed to pass most of the initiatives Emmert has trumpeted. Many agreed with the ideals behind Emmert’s ambitious agenda, including trying to give scholarship athletes a small amount of money to cover the full cost of school, and paring down the rulebook. But the lack of results have highlighted the growing schism between haves and have nots in Division I and further polarized the athletic directors who feel largely ignored and highlighted how out-of-touch Emmert is with his constituents. There’s been tremendous turnover in top-level NCAA jobs under Emmert, to the point where many administrators complain that they don’t even know who to call at the NCAA anymore. And therein lies the irony of Emmert’s One Team One Future attempt — ideals like communication, collaboration and inclusion sound great, but they’re missing among the membership.
“I’m really concerned,” said one high-ranking college administrator. “There’s a need for a healthy NCAA. It’s not healthy right now.”
Morale is at an all-time low among the enforcement staff as several respected veterans — Dave Didion (Auburn), Marcus Wilson (Maryland) and Chance Miller (South Carolina) — have left for college compliance positions since April. On Tuesday the department received another huge blow when Rachel Newman-Baker, the managing director for enforcement, development and investigators, left for a compliance job at Kentucky. Newman-Baker is the highest ranking member of the department to leave since enforcement vice president Julie Roe Lach was fired in February in the wake of missteps in the Miami investigation.
“With Rachel gone,” another ex-NCAA staffer said, “there’s really only two investigators (Angie Cretors and LuAnn Humphrey) left with experience in major football and basketball cases.”
Last week, interim director of enforcement Jonathan Duncan told SI: “It’s been a tough time for the enforcement staff.”
One of the driving forces of the enforcement exodus came from seeing how Emmert’s office handled the Miami debacle. The NCAA knew about the issues regarding the financial arrangement between Nevin Shapiro’s lawyer and investigator Ameen Najjar for months, but Emmert’s remarks to the press — “a shocking affair” — came off as if he’d just been informed that morning and needed to express his outrage publicly.
Many staffers felt like Lach was the scapegoat, as the 52-page external report shows she directed Najjar’s request through the proper channels. Jim Isch, the No. 2 behind Emmert at the NCAA, also knew of the arrangement and offered financial support, but he faced no repercussions. No logical explanation of that disconnect was provided.
How the NCAA handled Tom Hosty didn’t help either; weeks after Hosty was demoted from managing director to director of enforcement, Isch informed the staff of the demotion at a meeting and walked out as jaws dropped to the floor.
“They know if the s— hits the fan, they’re not going to be backed up by anyone,” said one ex-investigator.
As the NCAA moves forward, the reality of Emmert’s future is tricky. “When you get to the position Mark is in right now,” said another college administrator, “it’s how and when you are leaving, not if.”
That’s easy to say, but that pace of change in both academia and in the NCAA is unbearably slow. As one former staffer said of NCAA business: “You realize that it takes 100 internal emails for you to get the one e-mail that says nothing.”
Academia is arguably worse, as the average search for a college president takes a year. There are few groups of powerful people more collectively risk averse than college presidents, who when deciding on whether to blow their nose insist on forming a sub-committee to dissect proper tissue texture. In other words, getting a group of college presidents together to make a bold move like firing Emmert is highly unlikely. Emmert could realize he’s in an untenable position and jump to another job, but that isn’t likely either (he reportedly makes $1.6 million per year).
It should be noted that Emmert does have supporters, particularly among Pac-12 presidents, as he came to office from Washington. He helped hire Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and counts Oregon State’s Ed Ray among his closest confidants.
But elsewhere, Emmert’s support is tepid at best. He proved helpless during realignment, has been overwhelmed by constant scandal and has been unable to get his reform measures through the muddled NCAA governance structure.
Even worse, public perception of the NCAA under Emmert is at an all-time low. (This stinging USA Today story that exposed Emmert’s messy handling of a large-scale construction project while at UConn didn’t help Emmert’s reputation.) The mass exodus of talented employees speak much louder than his corporate buzzwords. And that’s something that can’t be changed with flashy lights or new screen savers.football/news/miami-ncaa/#ixzz2W6TuD0TJ
Recently, a fellow member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, Keith Eckel, wrote an editorial in which he criticized a “well-funded and highly vocal constituency” that, in his view, has employed a “burn it all to the ground” approach to the business of the university.
While it is not entirely clear who Mr. Eckel is referring to in expressing his views, as the five current Trustees who recently joined a legal action against the NCAA and its President, Mark Emmert, we feel obliged to respond.
Institutions must grow and adapt to changing times and challenging circumstances and we are proud to be part of that effort at Penn State. We certainly do not subscribe to the “burn it the ground” approach of which Mr. Eckel speaks in his piece.
Our issue, and the reason we have joined others from the Penn State community in the recently filed legal action, is the complete failure of due process afforded Penn State by the NCAA.
Under its own constitution and bylaws, the Association owed Penn State certain fundamental rights and the adherence to rules and procedures designed to provide fairness to a member institution. These rights were not only due to the University, but to intended beneficiaries of the membership agreement, including student-athletes, coaches, faculty and administrators.
In discharging our legal and fiduciary responsibilities as trustees, it is not incompatible that we may challenge and seek relief from the unprecedented and unlawful actions of the NCAA, and at the same time embrace the governance improvements that have arisen therefrom.
It comes down a distinction between the flawed and unsupported factual findings contained in the Freeh Report leading to the rushed imposition of crippling sanctions against Penn State — which we do not accept, and the Freeh Report’s recommendations for improved governance, leading to an enhanced environment for learning and academic pursuits at this great institution — which we enthusiastically accept and support.
Peter A. Khoury
Anthony P. Lubrano
Ryan J. McCombie
Adam J. Taliaferro
By Matt Morgan — email@example.com
Paterno family lawyer Wick Sollers, Paterno family spokesman Dan McGinn and former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh announced the lawsuit late Wednesday on the NBC Sports Network program “Costas Tonight.”
The suit, to be filed Thursday in Centre County court, will challenge the NCAA, President Mark Emmert and the former chairman of the executive committee, Edward Ray, concerning the consent decree that led to heavy penalties against the university last summer. An exclusive interview aired close to midnight Wednesday.
The suit seeks to overturn the sanctions, provide compensatory and punitive damages from the NCAA for improper conduct and breach of contract and reimbursement for legal costs, according to a news release from the family. The family will donate any net monetary gains to charity.
The six counts against the NCAA include breach of contract, civil conspiracy, defamation and commercial disparagement.
Sollers said on the show that the complete adoption of the Louis Freeh report and the binding nature of the consent decree needs to be challenged. The consent decree bound the university to sanctions including a $60 million fine, scholarship reductions, a four-year bowl ban and the loss of more than 100 wins for the football program.
“The reality is that consent decree was imposed through coercion and threats behind the scenes and there was no ability for anyone to get redress,” Sollers said. “There was no board approval, there was no transparency, and there was no consideration of this consent decree.”
Host Bob Costas also re-examined the Freeh report as it relates to Paterno.
The family challenged the Freeh report in February, with individual reports from Sollers, Thornburgh, former FBI profiler Jim Clemente and Fred Berlin, an expert on sexual disorders.
The suit will also include Penn State trustees Ryan McCombie, Anthony Lubrano, Alvin Clemens, Peter Khoury and Adam Taliaferro, faculty members Peter Bordi, Terry Engelder, Spencer Niles and John O’Donnell former players Anthony Adams, Gerald Cadogan, Shamar Finney, Justin Kurpeikis, Richard Gardner, Josh Gaines, Patrick Mauti, Anwar Phillips and Michael Robinson and former coaches William Kenney and Jay Paterno, according to the release.
Penn State as a whole will not take part, spokesman Dave LaTorre wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon.
“The university is not a party to any lawsuit against the NCAA that may be filed by the Paterno family,” he said.
LaTorre said Penn State remains committed to complying with the consent decree regarding the NCAA sanctions against the school and working with athletics integrity monitor George Mitchell to move the university forward.
McGinn said the suit will help to “correct the record.”
“When I speak of the damage, it’s not just to the Paterno family, the Paterno name; it is to Penn State, a great institution that has a great history and tradition in sports,” he says on the show. “It’s to the alums there, the students, the faculty, and the community. The NCAA wreaked enormous damage to this community, and this is just one way to get the record right.”
Attorneys representing the plaintiffs are Wick Sollers, managing partner of King & Spalding’s Washington, D.C., office and Paul Kelly, a partner in the Boston office of the Jackson Lewis firm.
The NCAA declined comment Wednesday, Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy said in a statement. He said the organization will continue to work with Penn State toward successful completion of the agreement.
Representatives of the family of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno tonight are expected to announce a lawsuit against the NCAA filed on behalf of the Paterno family and Penn State, according to a report in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News.
The announcement will come on Bob Costas’ “Costas Tonight” show on the NBC Sports Network after the Red Wings-Blackhawks hockey game. Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers, former Pennsylvania Gov. Dick Thornburgh and Paterno family spokesman Dan McGinn are expected to appear on the show, an NBC spokesman told The Patriot-News. Costas also reportedly will discuss the Freeh report and question its validity on the show. Thornburgh, the former U.S. attorney general, contributed to the Paterno family’s review of the Freeh report.
The Paterno family lawsuit comes after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA about the severe sanctions imposed on Penn State and its football program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. Corbett will learn in the next few weeks whether his lawsuit will be allowed to continue.
A Pennsylvania state senator also has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA seeking to keep all proceeds from the $60 million fine imposed on the university within the state for use.
The university itself is not involved in any of the lawsuits. Penn State signed a consent decree last summer accepting the NCAA sanctions on the school and the football program.
By Ben Jones
Bob Costas will give Louis Freeh and his independent investigation of Penn State and the Jerry Sandusky scandal another look Wednesday night Vice President of Communications Adam Freifeld told StateCollege.com, Tuesday.
The Freeh Report, headed by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, was commissioned by Penn State’s Board of Trustees to investigate former University officials and former head coach Joe Paterno’s role in the handling of allegations of child sexual abuse against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
“The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims,” the Freeh Commission report reads. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”
While in large part the Freeh Report was accepted as the most accurate picture of the Penn State scandal, growing numbers of people beyond the Penn State community have begun to question some of Freeh’s assumptions and conclusions.
The Paterno family released a response to the Freeh Report this past February.
Currently Freeh is facing criticism following the release of a report in a case involving Universal Entertainment Corporation.
“The Freeh report’s “factual findings and inferences lack objectivity and lack factual support,” Former U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said to the Wall Stree Journal. “Freeh’s law firm “viewed itself as an advocate first and an impartial investigator second” in preparing the Freeh report. Freeh and his colleagues “cherry-picked evidence and stretched to reach conclusions that would be helpful to the Wynn Resorts Board.”
Costas conducted an interview with Sandusky in early November of 2011 on NBC’s Rock Center and has been one of many voices throughout the lengthy unfolding of the Penn State scandal. Freifeld would not comment on the exact nature of the programming slated for Wednesday night.
The program is scheduled to air following Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Detroit Redwings and Chicago Blackhawks. That game is slated for an 8:00 p.m. start.
There is something that is not understood in today’s college football atmosphere. You see, it’s not supposed to be cool to play football at Penn State University. Playing on the gridiron in Happy Valley is supposed to be the furthest thing from a teenager’s mind. This is because people in positions of power within the school made unspeakable mistakes in the past–and have since been removed– that these athletes had absolutely nothing to do with, so they, and the current coaching staff, is supposed to suffer because of that,or so says the NCAA at least.
However, there’s one problem. Someone forgot to tell this to head coach Bill O’Brien, his coaching staff, and the top-tier prospective football recruits in the country.
This upcoming season was supposed to be the time period where Penn State began to feel the Berlin Wall of recruiting failures begin to fall upon them. The domino effect of their inevitable downfall and disappearance into obscurity was supposed to begin with nearly every considerable recruit in the nation refusing to go to the central-Pennsylvania institution. People referred to Penn State’s punishment dealt to them by the NCAA as this era’s version of the ‘Death Penalty.’ Top-level talent not going there was intended to render the program to the point of near irrelevancy by the time the five-year probation concludes.
Today, yet again, Bill O’Brien and his staff once again displayed that they will do everything in their power to make sure that the NCAA’s intended outcome for the football program never comes to fruition.
O’Brien and staff secured the commitment of four-star safety Marcus Allen from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, adding to an already impressive 2014 incoming class. Stuff like this wasn’t supposed to happen.
Although I was never one to pay too much attention to recruiting rankings, in this case, Penn State’s current 2014 recruiting rankings given their situation are nothing short of incredible. Popular recruiting site 24/7 has the Lions listed with the number 15 class for 2014, ESPN has them at 14, and Scout.com has them all the way up at 11–nearly cracking the Top 10.
How is this happening?
With promises of across-the-Atlantic Ocean games to supplement the absence of a bowl game, adequate preparation for a career at the next level from a man who has worked with the best in the game in Bill Belichick, and schooling from one of the most impressive academic institutions in the country–that’s how this is happening.
If you are the type to give the majority of your stock to recruiting rankings, then Penn State’s recruiting successes so far have them in prime position to field one of the more impressive programs every fall for the next few years to come. Again, not exactly what NCAA President Mark Emmert intended when he stood at the podium and announced the crippling sanctions early last Summer.
In 2017 when Penn State is scheduled to arise from the proverbial grave they were put in by the NCAA, they were supposed to literally be a zombie-like figure in regards to being an actual contending football program. If this kind of recruiting success keeps up, you might almost be able to pencil them in for a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game.
Does any of this sound familiar?? At least the Board of Trustees knew who to hire to cover THEIR Butts–even if it meant throwing Penn State and Joe Paterno and State College under the bus. The Board of Trustees was interested in ONE Thing–keeping themselves protected at the expense of everyone else. Failure of their fiduciary duties and so much more!!
Universal Entertainment Corporation announced that Judge Michael Chertoff, the former U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, has issued an assessment castigating last year’s report by Former FBI Director Louis J. Freehconcerning the affairs of Japanese gaming entrepreneur Kazuo Okada and his
affiliated companies. According to Judge Chertoff, the Freeh report was”structurally deficient, one-sided, and seemingly advocacy-driven.” Moreover, its conclusions, “simply are not credible.” Instead, Judge Chertoff found
Freeh’s report to be “deeply flawed” and “lack[ing] basic indicia of a credible
Freeh’s report was prepared on February 18, 2012 at the behest of Wynn Resorts, Limited. At the direction of Steve Wynn, Wynn Resorts turned around and used the report that same day to rationalize the forcible redemption of 24,549,222 shares of Wynn Resorts held by Aruze USA, Inc., a company whose ultimate majority owner is Mr. Okada. At the time, Aruze USA was the largest single shareholder in Wynn Resorts, owning close to 20% of Wynn Resorts’ outstanding stock.
Although Aruze USA’s shareholdings had a market value of at least 2.7 billion U.S. dollars at the time, Wynn Resorts provided Aruze USA with just a non-transferrable, fully subordinated, $1.9 billion, ten-year note in exchange. Wynn Resorts’ stock price rose $6.71, or 5.9%, per share the next day, providing tremendous financial gains to Steve Wynn and the other Wynn Resorts Directors who had just stripped Aruze USA of its shareholdings based on the Freeh report.
Statement from Kazuo Okada
In response to the independent analysis provided by Judge Chertoff, Universal Entertainment founder and Chairman Kazuo Okada said, “This confirms what I have maintained since the day the Freeh report was issued and the Wynn Board moved to strip us of our stake in a company we helped found — that the Freeh report was prepared carelessly and improperly, and contains a number of clear errors. It’s obvious that this biased report was part of Steve Wynn’s campaign to eliminate me as a rival to his power within Wynn Resorts.’”
According to the summary, the Freeh report’s most significant shortcomings include:
-- Timing that implies that Wynn Resorts commissioned the report for a clear purpose: to justify ousting Mr. Okada from the Board and redeeming Aruze USA's 20 percent stake in the company at a substantial discount; -- Consistently pairing grave and far-reaching conclusions with scant and unreliable supporting evidence and incomplete investigation and analysis, including broadly alleging a "practice and pattern" of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations without sufficient detail to meaningfully evaluate these incidents; -- Reaching legal conclusions through deficient legal analysis, including asserting a bad faith, possibly criminal violation of Philippine law while ignoring key aspects of the legal analysis Wynn Resorts commissioned from a local law firm; and, -- Failing to provide any meaningful explanation of its process and citing documents that are of dubious provenance or otherwise unreliable, as well as relying on potentially biased interviewees. Excerpted from the Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2013