Emmert Calls NCAA Enforcement Issues "An Embarrassment" After Firing Of Roe Lach
The NCAA yesterday released the findings of an outside investigation into the organization's probe of the Univ. of Miami “showing how its enforcement staff had run afoul of its own rules” in such a way that even NCAA President Mark Emmert "said he was embarrassed,” according to Steve Eder of the N.Y. TIMES. Emmert said, “Obviously, this is an outcome that nobody wants to see on their watch or anybody else’s.” He added, “This is something that is an embarrassment to the association and our staff.” The case “prompted the NCAA to oust” VP/Enforcement Julie Roe Lach, whom Emmert had “chosen to lead the enforcement division a little more than two years ago.” An NCAA spokesperson said that Roe Lach “would leave effective March 1.” Eder notes the report showed that NCAA enforcement staff members “violated internal protocols.” The case is “likely to increase public scrutiny of Emmert, who in two of the NCAA’s most high-profile cases since he took over in 2010 -- Miami and the child sexual abuse case involving Penn State -- has seemed to put distance between himself and results of the investigations.” Emmert said that “any discipline that he would face would be up to the executive committee.” Attorney Kenneth Wainstein, who conducted the outside inquiry, said that Roe Lach was “cooperative throughout the investigation.” Wainstein: “She was very upright, candid and cooperative, and seemingly very truthful with us.” Eder notes Roe Lach joined the NCAA “as an intern and worked her way up, becoming a director of enforcement in 2004.” A spokesperson said that NCAA Managing Dir of Enforcement Tom Hosty, who “had a supervisory role in the Miami matter that was similar to Roe Lach’s, will remain with the organization.” Roe Lach “will be replaced in the interim” by Jonathan Duncan, a lawyer from the firm Spencer, Fane, Britt & Browne who has “worked on NCAA matters for 15 years” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/19).
PLACING BLAME: USA TODAY’s George Schroeder reports the review found Roe Lach exercised "insufficient oversight” of the actions of former investigator Ameen Najjar. The review “absolved other NCAA officials,” including Emmert and COO Jim Isch, “of blame.” Isch “approved paying” attorney Maria Elena Perez to “glean information from depositions in [Nevin] Shapiro's bankruptcy proceedings.” But the review concluded Isch "was addressing only the fiscal issue and not any legal/prudential concerns." The report said that Emmert “didn't learn of the investigators' conduct until last fall.” The external review was “limited to the Miami investigation.” Emmert said that there are “no plans to review other pending or recently completed cases for possible malfeasance” (USA TODAY, 2/19). Former NCAA VP/Enforcement David Price, Roe Lach’s predecessor, said, “I still have the highest regard for Julie Roe Lach. I think she's one of the finest people I know. … It's a tragic day for enforcement, no matter how you look at it." YAHOO SPORTS’ Forde & Robinson noted Roe Lach is “just the latest departure within an enforcement staff that has seen significant -- and often acrimonious -- turnover in the last year” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/18).
Miami reportedly proposed a settlement last week, but the NCAA balked
GIVING CRITICS MORE AMMO: Emmert discussed residual damage from the investigation saying, “The damage is, first of all, for those people who were already skeptical or cynics, this feeds into their cynicism. For those of us who have great confidence in all the people around this building, it’s painful to have to deal with an issue that fails to live up to our standards and expectations. I think that’s the challenge for all of us that work here.” The AP reported the incident has been “an embarrassing blow to the NCAA.” Emmert: “This is not a good situation at all” (AP, 2/18). The NCAA recently passed a "rule saying head coaches are responsible for assistants' actions,” and Emmert was asked yesterday “if he then should be responsible for his assistants' deeds.” Emmert said, “I report to the executive committee. If they [feel] there are actions to be taken against me, they’re free to do that” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/19). In L.A., David Wharton writes the report “represents yet another black eye” for the NCAA, which had “already come under scrutiny for its handling of recent cases involving USC, UCLA and Penn State” (L.A. TIMES, 2/19). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Rachel Bachman writes Emmert’s “verbal firewall reflected growing heat on the NCAA” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/19).
NCAA SHOULD TURN THE TABLES ONTO ITSELF: In Miami, Greg Cote writes the NCAA “should drop its case against UM and instead direct the scrutiny and punishment upon itself.” Emmert has “distinguished himself for hypocrisy” for “not holding himself to the same standard of responsibility he would demand of others.” The external review “produced a damning 52-page report that makes Emmert and his underlings look even worse than first thought.” The “key development” is that the NCAA staff “went ahead with payments to Shapiro’s lawyer to improperly obtain information even after being strongly and clearly advised not to by the NCAA’s own staff counsel” (MIAMI HERALD, 2/19). ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich wrote, “Maybe the NCAA will have another president by the time Miami’s case is over.” Dinich: “You would think that Miami’s proactive approach, coupled with the NCAA’s botched investigation, would add up to mistrial.” In a case that has “redefined hypocrisy, the NCAA won’t relinquish its role as judge, despite the fact it was just found guilty” (ESPN.com, 2/18).
WHAT ARE THEY WATCHING? ESPN's Jay Bilas said the NCAA “talks about integrity and accountability and responsibility,” but Emmert is “leaving it up to the people that he reports to off of a very flimsy, I thought, report.” Bilas: “I’ve never heard a leader who’s been on the job for as long as Mark Emmert has talk about ‘on my watch’ as much as he does. It begs the question, what are you watching? The way he talks, he’s not paying attention to anything." In this matter, if "responsibility and accountability stops” at Roe Lach, that is "unacceptable and wrong and counter to what the NCAA pontificates and preaches all the time.” Emmert has “created an environment where he is completely insulated from any responsibility on anything.” Bilas noted Emmert’s credibility is “non-existent” and said, “I don’t see how you can credibly move forward on important matters.” He added, “I do think there is some movement towards change, especially within the enforcement process.” The “right thing" for Emmert to do "would be to step down, but I’m not holding my breath for him to do the right thing” (“Mike and Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 2/19).
TIME TO MAKE A CHANGE: ESPN's Mike Greenberg said if Emmert is going to hold himself to the “same standards that you have demanded that people who have done far less,” than the only “noble thing in the world you can do here is resign.” Greenberg: "What has been done here by the NCAA supercedes almost anything that we’ve seen (committed) by schools. ... How in the world can (Emmert) with a straight face look at any coach from this point forward and say, ‘Well, whatever is going on in your program under your watch you should be responsible for’” ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 2/19). CBSSPORTS.com’s Dennis Dodd wrote Emmert “must step down.” Dodd: “Even if you believe the scandal stopped at Roe Lach, Emmert was her boss.” Dodd wrote, “We know that Emmert has to step down because if he didn’t know what was going on, he wasn’t doing his job. Not even close to it” (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/18). ESPN’s Skip Bayless said of Emmert: “He needs to go. Not to step down, but to be asked to step down. To me, he revealed himself to be more problem than solution for the NCAA. This sheriff is in desperate need of a new sheriff to police him.” ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith: “Mark Emmert has to go. ... It is clear that on far too many occasions, he has stood up as a paragon of virtue, like he is above reproach and so is the NCAA, only to find out they are anything but" ("First Take," ESPN2, 2/19). FOXSPORTS.com’s Reid Forgrave wrote one person “who escaped unscathed ... was the man whose desk is where the buck stops: Emmert himself” (FOXSPORTS.com, 2/18). The South Florida SUN-SENTINEL's Hyde asks, “At what point does one university president mutter over a burner phone to another university president, ‘Can we give the NCAA the death penalty?’” Hyde: “The entire NCAA system has been exposed. It doesn’t work” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/19). ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil wrote Emmert “continues to pontificate from his self-righteous pulpit.” This “isn’t to say that Emmert needs to be fired, but the king of the news conference does, like the captain of any sinking ship, need to accept some responsibility” (ESPN.com, 2/18).
BLOW UP THE OUTSIDE WORLD: SI.com’s Stewart Mandel asked, “At what point does Emmert -- or if not him, the NCAA's members -- finally admit the need to blow up the whole thing and replace it with something more effective?” Mandel: “Why not outsource the entire enforcement operation to a third party?” Someone “had to pay the price for hijacking a bankruptcy proceeding on the NCAA's behalf, and that someone became Roe Lach, an NCAA lifer who past colleagues have universally hailed for her integrity.” But replacing her “will do very little to solve the NCAA's enforcement woes” (SI.com, 2/18).