In defense of the defense

The police botched the crime scene.

This defense is as old as, well, police and crime. It's been around long before you actually thought of Orange Juice when you heard OJ.

In this case, the "police" is the NCAA. While there are several main players in this "crime," the one we're most concerned with is Frank Haith.

This is a good, old-fashioned cluster-mess, with more twists and turns than a pretzel. But here's an attempt to make sense of the nonsensical.

* A guy named Nevin Shapiro allegedly paid $10,000 to the family of DeQuan Jones, a top-25 recruit Haith landed while with the Hurricanes. And Haith, the NCAA said, knew about this.

* Like anything the NCAA does --- and just like the government --- it takes way too long and way too much money to make a decision. But Monday, it was believed Haith would finally receive a Notice of Allegations this week --- from something that allegedly occurred in 2008.

* It was believed Haith would be charged with "unethical conduct and a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance," because the NCAA believed he was lying to them. The punishment could have resulted in a multi-year penalty and, potentially, cost Haith his job with Missouri.

"It's a blessing that it is coming closer to an end," Haith said.

Hold on.

* Oops, the police botched the crime scene. The investigation is now on hold, according to an NCAA statement released Wednesday. A portion of the statement said:

The NCAA national office has uncovered an issue of improper conduct within its enforcement program that occurred during the University of Miami investigation. Former NCAA enforcement staff members worked with the criminal defense attorney for Nevin Shapiro to improperly obtain information for the purposes of the NCAA investigation through a bankruptcy proceeding that did not involve the NCAA.

(MY NOTE: Remember the word "Former" in the previous sentence.)

As it does not have subpoena power, the NCAA does not have the authority to compel testimony through procedures outside of its enforcement program. Through bankruptcy proceedings, enforcement staff gained information for the investigation that would not have been accessible otherwise.

"I have been vocal in the past regarding the need for integrity by NCAA member schools, athletics administrators, coaches, and student-athletes,â?? Association President Mark Emmert said. "That same commitment to integrity applies to all of us in the NCAA national office."

The NCAA, as you know, goes crazy when a kid receives a pair of free shoes or a plane trip home for the holidays. They get on their high horse and chase down these "bad" guys and girls across the country, then makes them sit in the corner.

Now this. Perhaps we should have a congressional committee look at the NCAA. We'd have an answer by 2019.

* Here's the last --- but perhaps most interesting --- part of this deal, which has several layers of stupid. Enter Abigail Grantstein.

Grantstein was the lead investigator in the Haith case, as well as a case concerning UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad. Muhammad was being investigated for "violations of NCAA amateurism rules."

Hold on, it gets better. Here's part of a story from The Los Angeles Times last November.

A conversation overheard on an Aug. 7 commuter flight from Chicago to Memphis, Tenn., has prompted attorneys representing UCLA basketball player Shabazz Muhammad to call for the NCAA to drop its investigation and declare him eligible.

The conversation came to light in an email from an attorney who said she was seated behind a man who was speaking loudly about the work of his girlfriend, an "attorney with the NCAA."
The girlfriend, whom he identified as "Abigail," was investigating Muhammad. The man made it clear that the NCAA would find Muhammad ineligible and not allow him to play this season, the email said.

Wait, it gets even better. Muhammad had visited Kansas and seemed ready to sign a letter-of-intent with the Jayhawks. But six weeks later, he signed with UCLA, and the NCAA investigation started shortly thereafter.

Grantstein grew up in Kansas and is a graduate of the University of Kansas law school, and it's widely known she has close ties to the Jayhawks basketball program.

Remember, Grantstein was also investigating Haith, the new coach at Missouri. This just in: Tigers don't like Jayhawks, Jayhawks don't like Tigers. And Jayhawks don't like Bruins who could have been Jayhawks.

The NCAA has since fired Grantstein because of "unethical conduct," according to reports. Coincidence, or do you smell something here?

Truth, indeed, is stranger than fiction. You can't make this stuff up.

"To say the least, I am angered and saddened by this situation. Trust and credibility are essential to our regulatory tasks,â?? Emmert said in Wednesday's statement.

"My intent is to ensure our investigatory functions operate with integrity and are fair and consistent with our member schools, athletics staff and most importantly our student-athletes."

The Muhammad investigation has since been dropped and he's been cleared to play --- he scored 27 points in UCLA's 97-94 win over Missouri last month.

Haith should also be cleared, because the "police" have obviously botched and contaminated this "crime" scene --- not to mention the heavy odor of bias.

The defense rests.
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