Mark Emmert has some explaining to do. No, wait. He already tried — and failed.
“I never saw an audit issue that was a problem at all, and we certainly wouldn’t have kept it from people,” the president of the NCAA told USA TODAY Sports about the multimillion-dollar debacle he left behind at Connecticut.
“Not that I’m aware of, and I have no reason to believe that’s a true allegation,” he said when asked if those who blew the whistle on an LSU football cheating scandal lost their jobs as a result.
Sure thing, Emmert. Your politician babble is sinking faster than the reputation of your organization. You’ve been exposed, and now it’s time to once again question the authority you and your crew have to come after guys like Missouri men’s basketball coach Frank Haith.
You see, we learned a lot about Emmert when ace USA TODAY SPORTS reporter Brent Schrotenboer dropped a bombshell of a story that dug deep into how Emmert handled issues that occurred while he was a university chancellor.
First, at UConn, he kept quiet while the rampant mismanagement of a billion-dollar construction wasted more than $100 million. Then, at LSU, he had his hands in what turned out to be a cover-up of systemic cheating by the school’s football team — something that led to two $110,000 settlements being paid to the former school employees who said they were forced from their jobs after exposing the corruption.
When asked about his previous involvement in the kind of problems the NCAA exists to curtail, Emmert responded the only way he knows how — evasion.
That shouldn’t fly anymore. Enough empty talk and blame passing. Enough of the NCAA calling for more accountability while being led by a man who takes none.
Emmert needs to resign. Or, his organization needs to stop attacking the careers of coaches and athletes whose missteps are minor compared to its leader — and that includes Haith.
The NCAA has done everything in its power to include the Mizzou coach in the Nevin Shapiro net of scandal it cast over the University of Miami. Despite an investigation that has had holes shot through it again and again, Haith’s charge — something called “failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance” — made its zombie-like progression all the way from Coral Gables to Columbia, Mo.
On Monday, the former Miami coach became the most-recent member of the club that’s fighting back. He has filed a legal motion asking the NCAA to dismiss its case against him. And as long as Emmert is in charge, that request should be granted.
The NCAA’s case against Haith is built on the story of Shapiro, a convicted felon currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for running a Ponzi scheme. Mistakes by Emmert’s workers who investigated — one paid Shapiro’s attorney to sneak in on subpoena power — further weaken its credibility. Now, it’s an embarrassment the NCAA needs to put out of its misery.
Suppose Haith is without-a-doubt guilty. Say the NCAA’s claim is correct, that Haith funneled money to Shapiro to keep recruiting violations quiet. Now, compare Haith’s alleged wrongdoing to what we just learned about Emmert — a man whose career ladder is littered with more-damning scandals.
See the rub?
It’s time to realize the sham in an Emmert-led organization punishing Haith for loose ties to a flawed investigation that’s rooted in a convicted criminal’s claims.
It’s time to drop the case against Haith, and clear the coach’s name.
An NCAA that doesn’t is an organization as hypocritical as its leader.
You can follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Fred or email him at Frederickson.Ben@gmail.com