CORAL GABLES -- And now, the trial.
After more than two years of investigation, mudslinging and another investigation, one of the most talked-about NCAA compliance cases will head to its version of court.
The University of Miami will meet with the NCAA's Committee on Infractions starting Thursday in Indianapolis. The hearings are expected to span three days -- considerably longer than the typical one to two.
And as the UM administrators, lawyers and involved parties head to Indianapolis, another published report involving the key figure in the case comes out. Former Hurricane booster turned whistleblower Nevin Shapiro made new allegations against the program in the pages of Sports Illustrated published Wednesday.
His claims involve coaches feeding him insider information to help his gambling habit won't be part of this week's hearings, though. That's because Shapiro said he refused to meet with NCAA investigators after they declined to pay his lawyer, Maria Elena Perez, to attend the interview. He also grew frustrated with the investigators' handling of the case.
"I thought I was dealing with the FBI," Shapiro told SI. "Instead, I was dealing with a bunch of clowns. I gave the NCAA the body, the weapon and the DNA evidence on a platter, and they found a way to screw this up."
The NCAA could reportedly charge UM with $170,000 of the millions Shapiro claims he paid Hurricane athletes from 2002-10.
Despite the difficulty dealing with Shapiro, the NCAA still hit Miami with the dreaded "lack of institutional control" tag. The charges stem from years of alleged recruiting and extra benefit violations involving Shapiro. The actual notice of allegations, delivered in late February, has not been released since the private school and the NCAA are not bound by public record laws.
Any evidence presented during the hearing was to have been submitted two weeks ago for inspection by both sides. The enforcement staff will effectively be the prosecutor in the case, while UM and its legal team will defend itself against the allegations.
Britton Banowsky, commissioner of Conference USA and current Committee on Infractions chairman, will run the hearing.
"Similar to a court proceeding, all involved parties, including the institution and the enforcement staff, give opening statements," the NCAA's website reads. "Both the enforcement staff and the institution and other involved parties make presentations on each individual allegation. Committee members ask questions. After all allegations are discussed, each party offers closing statements."
The hearings are not bound to any time frame and can last as long as necessary.
"The committee deliberates in private to determine its findings and what penalties should be assessed," the NCAA website states. "The committee's report, prepared with the assistance of NCAA staff separate from enforcement, is released eight to 12 weeks after a hearing."
UM would have the right to appeal any further sanctions at that point. School president Donna Shalala has on multiple occasions insisted no further penalties were necessary. UM already took itself out of postseason play in each of the past two football seasons and multiple players served suspensions.
A separate appeals committee would hear the case if UM protested any additional penalties.
The hearings are closed to the public and UM officials have already stated they will not be speaking publicly about the case this week.
That would be a departure from the very public statements Shalala made in recent months. She was outspoken and critical of the probe that the NCAA admits had serious flaws after doing an internal investigation.
Miami in March filed a motion to dismiss the charges based mostly on the ethical red flags raised in the lengthy investigation. The school slammed the NCAA for its interview and evidence methods, while claiming the investigation was "corrupted from the start."
The NCAA responded a few week later by saying UM's motion was "largely based on assumptions, false accusations, misleading statements and meritless claims."
The motion was ultimately denied, which leaves both sides primed for a battle behind closed doors this week in Indianapolis.
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