It’s one thing to investigate player-booster misconduct, but the NCAA has gone a step further and issued an ultimatum to former Miami Hurricanes: If they don’t talk to NCAA lawyers by Friday, the NCAA will assume the allegations against them are true. Talk about thuggish behavior. Via the Miami Herald:
The NCAA has delivered a new and disturbing ultimatum to numerous former University of Miami football players: Either talk to us or we’ll believe Nevin Shapiro’s claims against you.
The NCAA last week mailed a letter to former players that allegedly committed NCAA violations by accepting gifts from Shapiro, including dinners, prostitutes, trips to nightclubs, cash and other perks. Shapiro told the NCAA that 114 players committed violations; Yahoo previously identified 72 of them.
Only players who were playing college football at the time the investigation was launched are required to speak to the NCAA. Thirteen current or former UM football players did so in 2011. So the players who were sent the letter last week are no longer playing college football; some are in the NFL.
The letter, which I obtained, gives the players a Friday deadline to speak to the NCAA. What’s surprising is that the NCAA states in the letter that it will conclude the players committed violations if they do not respond.
UM officials were privately hopeful that many of the allegations made against players who left UM several years ago cannot be corroborated. Unless the NCAA is bluffing, it appears it might take Shapiro’s word on these claims unless the players refute them.
In recent days, several players and their attorneys have been trying to decide whether to speak to the NCAA. Even Tuesday, one said he’s not sure what he will do. So it’s unclear how many players will speak to the NCAA.
Text of the letter to former players here.
I can see why the NCAA is doing this, as its needs to present as strong a case as possible when imposing its sanctions. But to take the word of Nevin Shapiro — a convicted felon and liar — over players who choose not to talk is, I think, a step too far.
The NCAA should make its case with the players it does have the right to interview, and it should forget about the others.