Already under fire as a result of its unscrupulous tactics in recent high-profile cases, the NCAA's enforcement arm may have made yet another damaging misstep.
Missouri coach Frank Haith has filed a petition with a Florida federal court in hopes that a judge will help him determine if the NCAA accessed his bank records by improper and possibly illegal means, CBSSports.com reported Monday afternoon. The NCAA obtained Haith's bank records while investigating former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro's claims that the ex-Hurricanes coach provided money to help recruit top prospect DeQuan Jones.
Haith voluntarily turned over some bank statements to the NCAA during its investigation according to the CBS report, but the petition alleges other information may have been obtained improperly by accessing microfiche copies of Haith's checks without permission. Haith apparently became aware of the possible improprieties when he tried to obtain the microfiche copies of those checks at the NCAA's request only to find out they already had been viewed by another party.
A judge will determine the merits of the petition and whether Haith will be able to issue subpoenas to the bank and speak with witnesses who can confirm how the NCAA got the information in question.
If it turns out, the NCAA acted wrongly here, it will represent another gut punch to the credibility of an organization that has sustained too many of those recently.
In January, the NCAA admitted to "a very severe case of improper conduct" when it put the Shapiro's lawyer on its payroll even though his client was one of the figures under investigation. The lawyer had the ability to access information enforcement staffers could not because he is able to issue subpoenas and force key witnesses to testify.
Earlier in the year, the NCAA also botched an investigation into extra benefits accepted by Shabazz Muhammad when the boyfriend of the lead investigator was overheard on an airplane claiming there was no chance the UCLA freshman would play this season. Abigail Grantstein, the lead investigator in both the Muhammad and Haith cases, has since been fired.
It's too soon to determine if Haith's petition will uncover yet another example of NCAA corruption, but the events of the past few months certainly make the Missouri coach's suspicion more credible.
The NCAA once received criticism for not being able to effectively police college sports. Now it can hardly police itself.