One of the best tales in the Arabian Nights is that of Ali Cogia, Trader of Baghdad, who leaves his gold coins, hidden in a vase below a stash of olives, in the safe-keeping of his friend the Merchant, while Ali travels the Mideast for seven years. One month short of his return, the Merchant discovers and seizes the gold, then refills the vase with fresh olives. The revenant Ali demands gold from his Merchant friend, and a lawsuit ensues, heard by the Cadi (the local magistrate), who pronounces the Merchant innocent. An appeal is taken by the Merchant to the powerful Caliph, who that night walks the district incognito, and overhears a group of children re-enacting the trial of the Merchant and Ali which the children had witnessed. So impressed is the Caliph at the child-“judge’s” performance, which involved “requiring” the presentation of the vase to “discover” that the olives which should have been spoiled were, in fact, fresh, the Caliph commands the child to sit next to the Caliph on the actual appeal heard the next day, where the Caliph similarly finds fresh olives in the subject vase, and pronounces Ali the Trader guilty.
The Caliph also adjured the Cadi to “learn how to deal out justice from the mouth of a child.”
Why tell this story now? The decision by the Cadi was fundamentally flawed and utterly lacking in integrity — as is the one here by the NCAA. And the extent to which the decision defies reason or logical analysis raises issues as to whether the entire “captive” approach to resolving allegations of NCAA member bylaw violation (in which the entire investigation, fact-finding and law-application process is conducted “in-house”, as opposed to retention of more objective outside decision-makers) should be entitled to any presumption of legitimacy by the public.
Guess what? You MUST read the NCAA decision. It’s not hard, and can be skimmed. It’s not long, either. About 18 pages, but you really can just skim it. Then, attached to that, a “Timeline” (chronological summary) of about 8 or 9 pages, which can also be skimmed. Why do I suggest you read it? Because the body of the decision and the Timeline, compared to the substance of the overall conclusions and penalties announced by the NCAA, are almost in direct conflict. It’s almost as if two different people wrote the conclusions and the body. The tension between the two is almost unresolvable, so much so that the conclusions are actually substantially undermined by the body of the decision.
Many of the fact-findings are superb. The staff figured out that Bill Martin actively failed to do anything for at least nine months after January 2009, and that he acted only after the Freep forced his hand. The figured out that RR had an endless list of “perfect” training, from Compliance Head Judy Van Horn, about the very Bylaws which RR and UM admitted were daily violated for 18 months. They figured out that CARA records still don’t exist for substantial periods of time.
It appears the Paul Dees presence on the Infractions Committee may have been a UM stroke of luck, since Dees was the AD at Miami twenty years ago when they were severely sanctioned by the NCAA. This Committee believed every single excuse proferred by UM and all its witnesses, which is unheard of in any litigation.