The NCAA has no subpoena power, and has no power to get people outside of its jurisdiction (such as current athletes or coaches) to cooperate in an investigation. So, in the Miami case, the NCAA is using what little leverage it has with former Hurricanes players.
The NCAA, according to the Miami Herald, sent a letter to former Hurricanes players implicated in the Nevin Shapiro allegations telling them they either talk to the NCAA, or the NCAA will simply believe they are guilty of Shapiro's claims.
The Herald obtained one of the letters and printed it, here is the text from its report:
"The purpose of this letter is to apprise you that the NCAA enforcement staff is requesting to schedule an interview with your clients regarding their knowledge of or involvement in possible NCAA violations concerning the University of Miami, Florida, football program.
"Interviewing your clients is important in order for the enforcement staff to conduct a thorough investigation, and both the staff and the institution request you and your clients' cooperation in this matter. However, at this time, all attempts to schedule and execute interviews with [blank] have been unsuccessful. As a result, this letter serves as a formal and final request by the NCAA enforcement staff for interviews with [blank] to be completed by Nov. 23, 2012.
"If we do not hear back from you or your clients by that time, the staff will consider the non-response as your client's admission of involvement in NCAA violations. You may contact me at [blank] in order to arrange this interview. Your assistance in this matter is appreciated."
Assistant Director of Enforcement
That letter is sure to generate some opinions. While the NCAA is sure to get some heat for issuing this ultimatum, there isn't much else the NCAA can do in a case like this.
Without any real power, the NCAA is unlikely to get anyone to talk who isn't obligated to do so. So it appeals to former players in one way it can. If the players don't talk, they're putting their school in serious danger of significant sanctions. That is more convincing than just asking really nicely.
Is it intimidation by the NCAA? Probably. And it probably isn't fair of the NCAA to take Shapiro's side at face value without hearing the other side of the story. But if the former Hurricanes players have nothing to hide, talking to the NCAA shouldn't be a big deal, right?
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