March 10, 2013
At this point, would you expect anything else? Because it appears the numerous missteps taken by members of the NCAA's enforcement staff in handling the Miami investigation are just part of the story.
Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reports that former NCAA Director of Enforcement Ameen Najjar wrote a letter two years ago on behalf of ex-Miami booster Nevin Shapiro to U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton suggesting the NCAA could eventually hire Shapiro.
The letter, obtained by the AP, was dated June 3, 2011, four days before Wigenton sentenced Shapiro to 20 years in prison for his participation in a $1 billion Ponzi scheme. In it, Najjar says Shapiro could be a consultant/educator for the NCAA, perhaps implying a lighter sentence be in order.
"Throughout the course of our interactions, it is my belief that Mr. Shapiro possesses a unique depth of knowledge and experience concerning representatives athletics interest ('Boosters'), agents and the provision of extra-benefits to student-athletes," the letter reads.
Najjar, as you may recall, was singled out in an external report from the NCAA for orchestrating a plan where Shapiro's attorney, Maria Elena Perez, would depose witnesses in a bankruptcy suit for information relevant to the Miami investigation in exchange for money. The NCAA's legal team didn't sign off on the idea, but Najjar (aka "Maverick") went through with the plan anyway, telling former VP of Enforcement Julie Roe Lach that it was given the green light.
Lach was terminated last month. Najjar no longer works for the NCAA.
As far out as it sounds, the idea of employing an ex-booster to gain insight and educate member schools isn't a terrible one in general. But considering what Shapiro was facing combined with the fact that Najjar didn't appear to be a real "by the books" kind of guy? Yeah, probably not the best course of action.