Miami has been “incredibly cooperative” in the Nevin Shapiro case, NCAA president Mark Emmert told CBSSports.com. But at the same time the NCAA’s highest-ranking official reiterated his view that the death penalty should be used as deterrent in certain cases.
Emmert was widely quoted after the Shapiro report broke in August saying, that, hypothetically, the death penalty was an option in the Miami case. He repeated that again recently without speaking specifically about Miami.
“My position hypothetically was, no, you can’t take that [death penalty] off the table,” Emmert told CBSSports.com in a one-on-one interview. “We’re going to need whatever penalty structure we need to get people to behave themselves. If that entails – in extraordinary situations – the death penalty, I’m not unwilling to put that on the table.”
When the depth of Shaprio’s influence was revealed, the scandal was called the worst in NCAA history. Since then, there has been competition for that label.
Emmert went out of his way to compliment Miami president Donna Shalala and her role in the ongoing investigation that the NCAA started in the spring. For a sitting NCAA CEO to comment on such a high-profile case as Miami’s is almost unprecedented. For him to drop in compliments in the middle of the case, well, it’s hard to remember if that has ever occurred.
“The reality is that Miami, the university, has been incredibly cooperative,” Emmert said. “[Miami] President Shalala is doing an incredible job of interacting with us. Donna is doing a great job. She is being very, very helpful.”
Emmert did not elaborate, only to say that the NCAA is determined to wipe out third-party influence in football. The Shapiro case is ongoing as is the one involving Houston mentor/talent broker Will Lyles.
Emmert also spoke on other issues:
Conference realignment: “We had a situation a few months ago where it felt like June 1914. Everybody had their hand on the trigger and waiting for somebody to flinch. People weren’t necessarily making rational choices for rational reasons. We watched friendships, collegiality and trust blown up. That’s not the way universities are supposed to handle themselves.”
Emmert was most likely talking about Texas A&M’s June-September fling that resulted in its move to the SEC.
“I’d love to see something like a waiting period almost. Kind of like what you had with the SEC – the Securities and Exchange Commission. If you buy a company you have to vet it out. We saw that with Missouri. ‘Yeah, we’re thinking about this.’ It was a pretty rational process.
“We don’t have a formal role in all that [conference realignment]. Universities have to be able to make those decisions. Nobody should tell a university who they’re going to be a conference affiliate with. What I want is a system or a process by which schools can make up their minds -- optimally, deliberately without any rancor and politics of it.”
Recent NCAA reforms: “This is really the first wave. I’m extremely pleased. It was heartening to see the kind of support a pretty big change in a short period of time garnered … We made a clear statement about where I’ll our values were. The next wave will be around the rulebook, be around the way we do enforcement and the way we insist on integrity.”
On some criticisms of those reforms: (Some critics have said the $2,000 stipend was instituted too soon and/or won’t make much of a difference.) “You know the history of the NCAA. In the past when we wanted to make some decisions we started down a good road but then you say, ‘There’s this wrinkle and that wrinkle.’ By the time you’re done, you’ve got mush. This time we’re saying this is where we want to be.”
On pending legislation to address the Cecil Newton situation: (There is pending legislation that would label a parent a booster/agent if that parent solicited money from a school for the child’s services.) “We’ll see it coming out of this current task force on enforcement and infractions -- language that defines third parties to include family members, guardians, etc. That will have a very, very positive impact … That will be an integral part of the wave of reform around those issues. As you know, the intrusion of third parties…is ubiquitous and can be extremely pernicious. We’ve got to get our arms around it.”
The NCAA’s role in football’s postseason: “We have to be involved all the way along. Even though we don’t govern [FBS] postseason football, we certainly have rules about it. We’re debating right now the length of the season. How long the bowl season should be. Everybody wants to shrink it a bit. As we’re doing that, we have to then work with the conferences to say, ‘All right, what are you thinking about with the BCS?’ “
His hiring of Nick Saban at LSU in 2000: (Emmert was then LSU’s president.) “His record at Michigan State was very impressive in that he had taken a team that was floundering and having a lot of NCAA problems. By the time he’d spent five years there they were ranked eighth or ninth in the country. They beat Michigan once in a while. That’s a tough place to win at, Michigan State.
“I didn’t know him I hadn’t met him but when I sat with him his football mentality, his analytical nature, the clear game plan for what you needed to do at LSU were just pretty stunning. It was a very, very easy choice.”