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Missouri stands behind Haith despite NCAA penalty
Question of the Day
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Missouri coach Frank Haith was suspended for five games by the NCAA on Tuesday after it was found that he inadequately monitored his former assistants’ interactions with a disgraced Miami booster and then tried to cover up a five-figure hush money payment to keep potential violations hidden.
The Committee on Infractions report also found that Haith provided inconsistent answers during multiple interviews with investigators, including conflicting accounts of when he reported the shakedown attempt by since-imprisoned felon Nevin Shapiro to Hurricanes athletic director Paul Dee.
In a statement released by Missouri, Haith said he “strongly” disagreed with the report “and the inference on how the program was run at the University of Miami” but won’t appeal the findings. He told reporters in Columbia he plans to donate 18 days’ worth of his salary from his suspension to the Boys and Girls Club of Columbia. His base annual salary is $450,000, though he earns a guaranteed $1.6 million each year.
Instead, the two-year NCAA investigation found that Haith, the former Hurricanes basketball coach, failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance.
Shapiro, who is now serving a 20-year prison term for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme, had basketball season tickets with a courtside seat and had donated an estimated $500,000 to Miami. He initially demanded a large loan from Haith after he experienced financial trouble or the return a $50,000 donation from a benefit bowling tournament he had hosted. The coach refused.
Morton, who joined Western Kentucky as an assistant coach in 2011 but resigned in April as its director of basketball operations, then loaned Shapiro at least $6,000, which he later repaid. The NCAA also said that Haith helped Morton and two other assistants pay $10,000 to Shapiro’s mother and “attempted to cover up the booster’s threats to disclose incriminating information.”
Haith’s statement was accompanied by supportive statements from Chancellor Brady Deaton, the university’s top compliance officer and athletic director Mike Alden, who also joined Haith at a previously scheduled preseason press conference.
“After all this time, Coach Haith, his family, the University of Missouri, our student-athletes and our fans deserve closure,” Alden said. “I’m proud to have Frank Haith as our men’s basketball coach.”
“We’re looking forward to working together for a long time,” added Alden, who hired Haith in 2011 after the former Texas and Wake Forest assistant spent seven years at Miami in his first head coaching job.
The allegations from Haith’s time in Coral Gables surfaced several months after his surprise hire by Alden from a .500 program that had reached the NCAA tournament just once under his watch.
While much of the 102-page report focuses on the Miami football program, the NCAA inquiry also opens a rare public window into the seamier side of cultivating big-money boosters _ even those, like Shapiro, with substantial baggage.
Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports that he steered a $10,000 payment to secure recruit DeQuan Jones’ commitment to Miami in 2008 with Haith’s knowledge. The NCAA said it found no conclusive evidence to support that claim, though it noted multiple phone calls among Haith, Morton and an unidentified “high-profile prospect” on the same day Shapiro’s mother was paid.
The report also said an associate athletics director in charge of fundraising guided Shapiro toward the Miami men’s basketball program after the booster became disenchanted with the football team’s losing 2007 season. Haith and Morton told NCAA investigators they shared several meals with Shapiro, attended a concert together and visited a strip club “to create donor relationships.” Haith also sought legal advice from Shapiro when one of his players got into trouble.
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