CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — The NCAA’s enforcement staff has agreed to strike at least some of former Miami quarterback Kyle Wright’s testimony from its case against the Hurricanes, a person with knowledge of the move told The Associated Press on Friday night.
In its response to Miami’s motion that was filed two weeks ago asking for the case to be brought to an immediate end, the NCAA’s investigative arm said it would remove some of Wright’s testimony “in an abundance of caution” according to the person, who spoke with AP on condition of anonymity because neither the association nor the Hurricanes authorized the move to be revealed publicly.
It’s a victory for Miami, though the size of that victory will only be known as the case continues. It’s also unclear if the NCAA will drop all of Wright’s testimony, or just a portion.
In its motion, which was based in part on what the school said was ill-gotten testimony from Wright, Miami asked the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions — the group that would actually hear the case, not the investigators who shaped the case — to bring the long saga to an end.
As of now, the case is still scheduled to be heard by the Committee on Infractions starting June 14.
Miami argued that some of the questions Wright was asked in a February 2012 interview with NCAA investigators were based on answers given in depositions that were conducted as part of a bankruptcy case by the attorney for former Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro, whose claims of providing impermissible benefits to Miami athletes, recruits and coaches for nearly a decade are the root of the scandal.
Those depositions were conducted under subpoena power, a tool the NCAA does not have. The NCAA has said it removed information gleaned in those depositions from the notice of allegations against Miami, though the Hurricanes argued that process did not go far enough.
“In an abundance of caution, the enforcement staff will suppress (Wright’s) transcript as well as strike through any allegations relying solely on the information the student-athlete reported,” read a portion of the NCAA’s response.
Miami cited six allegations that Wright helped investigators substantiate in a February 2012 interview.
Wright, according to Miami’s motion, acknowledged getting extra benefits “only after (now-retired NCAA investigator Rich) Johanningmeier asked him specific questions regarding the benefits” that the former quarterback received from Shapiro, a convicted felon serving a 20-year term in federal prison for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme.
And the NCAA, Miami contended, only knew about those benefits — like a trip to a Snoop Dogg concert at Detroit in 2005 and an overnight trip to the Bahamas — because of the deposition that Shapiro attorney Maria Elena Perez conducted of former Miami equipment-room staffer and Shapiro confidant Sean Allen in December 2011.
That was one of the depositions Perez conducted while receiving payment from the NCAA for the work performed.
The AP previously learned that Wright, a Miami quarterback from 2004 through 2007, was alleged by the NCAA to have received “VIP access and beverage service” from Shapiro at Miami nightclubs between 2002 and 2009. Wright also allegedly was entertained at Shapiro’s home, received invitations to bowling-alley outings from the former booster, and dined with him at a Benihana restaurant.
Wright, also according to the notice of allegations against Miami, received at least $1,824 in impermissible benefits “in an effort to secure signing with Axcess Sports,” an agency Shapiro was aligned with.
Wright finished his four Miami seasons with 38 touchdown passes and 31 interceptions.
Miami has already missed three postseason football games because of the scandal, and school officials have said repeatedly that self-imposed sanctions like those and a scholarship reduction mean the Hurricanes have been penalized enough.