The University of Miami Nevin Shapiro Scandal, 18 Months, and Accountability

Posted on March 19, 2013 | in Football, Problem Solving, Quality, Sports | by
Nevin Shapiro

UM football coach Al Golden (Image from

A subject that is due for analysis yet I’ve left untouched is the Nevin Shapiro scandal at the University of Miami in Coral Gables. The NCAA violations resulting from the Ponzi scheme player’s involvement with the Hurricanes football program has the school on the verge of sanctions and penalties and mishandling of information also cost NCAA VP of Enforcement Julie Roe Lach her job.

I won’t dig too deeply into the details, but yesterday the NCAA announced that attorney Jonathan Duncan will become the interim VP of Enforcement…and that he has 18 months to clean up the mess.

Here’s a quote from Duncan to about his plan for program reform and restoring confidence in the NCAA enforcement model and staff:

We’re going to do that one good decision at a time, making sure all our staff members have the training and ongoing development that they need in order to do what is probably the hardest job in the national office.

And another:

I intend to make sure that the directors and managing directors and all those who are investigating cases understand we need to investigate cases in process and with integrity. I intend to ask them on a regular basis the status of ongoing cases. … I have asked them, all of them, to think about the tools in our toolbox, and let’s look at each of them and make a decision on which are fair and appropriate and which should be revisited.

While I concede that a lot of what Duncan says in his interview is political-speak and that swaying public opinion quickly (albeit ineffectively) is more readily done in a Wyatt Earp-style statement promising of sweeping changes, a few things stick out in his comments and the expectations placed in front of him.

He focused a lot on process integrity. The best way to institute processes with high integrity is to create a robust process that is easy to share and transfer but also is documented. The University of Miami and the NCAA got in trouble because the process for enforcement wasn’t robust and it certainly wasn’t standardized. If everyone involved in enforcement followed a solid process consistently there might not have been an opportunity for a Nevin Shapiro to slip through the cracks.

He also talks about tools in a toolbox, and staff members receiving training and development. However, training to what? A robust process that doesn’t yet exist? It’s easy for me to sit back from my location and say the NCAA is doing it wrong, which I don’t mean to do. The point is that a process is needed first before training folks in using that process. Maybe the NCAA has documented processes and policies already, but just aren’t all being followed. (Yes, the NCAA enforcement model needs its own enforcement model.)

And finally…18 months to get this done. This makes no sense to me. 18 months or else what? He is let go and someone else comes in to have a try? Is that an ultimatum for Duncan or for the NCAA? Is there a legitimate reason for 18 months or is that an arbitrary target? Who set this timeframe? How does this entity know that 18 months is an ideal timeframe? And if Duncan fails and is replaced after 18 months, wouldn’t all that time and effort under Duncan’s watch be then wasted? How can you set a timeframe for implementing a robust process if the right process isn’t even known?

This is a solid example of why leadership support AND buy-in to process management/optimization/enforcement is the most important key to a robust process’s success.

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