Notre Dame Ignores Te’o’s NCAA Duty to Produce Records: Sham Investigation Buffaloes NCAA, Buries Evidence

As I noted in yesterday’s post (Notre Dame’s Sham Investigation: They Hung Te’o Out to Dry, and Violated NCAA Bylaws by Not Reporting), the January 20 South Bend Tribune article contained an important admission by Notre Dame’s top brass:

“University leaders initially were concerned that the hoax might involve NCAA violations, extortion, gambling or some effort toinfluence the outcome of the national championship game, Brown said. But the investigation revealed no such motives, he said.”

But despite those (legitimately) serious concerns, Notre Dame then performed only a teeny-tiny one-day electronic search to investigate. Any FBI agent, state cop, or small-time PI would tell you that gambling-related investigations are difficult, intense, and require interviewing many witnesses and collecting and reviewing a broad range of documents, including phone records. Moreover, those cases are often developed circumstantially, and most witnesses commonly initially deny any gambling involvement.

Notre Dame’s failure to even attempt to collect the most basic kinds of information required in order to make a good faith determination about whether any gambling-related elements might’ve been involved in the Te’o ‘catfish’ events makes their claim that their investigation “revealed no such motives” not just irrelevant, but laughable: their sham, miniscule investigation was, in fact, apparently designed to insure that no such motives were discovered.

Notre Dame not only conducted a sham investigation. They ignored a powerful tool at their disposal which would have allowed them to quickly get access to a huge body of of very probative data (which many commentators have mused would get to the bottom of many issues raised): Monti Te’os phone, text, email and other records.

Here’s how: NCAA Bylaw 10-1(a) applies to this investigation, and states as follows:

You have engaged in unethical conduct if you refuse to furnish information relevant to an investigation of a possible violation of an NCAA regulation when requested to do so by the NCAA or your institution.

Notre Dame has already admitted that it undertook an investigation of a “possible violation of an NCAA regulation” (i.e. bedrock NCAA regulations proscribing any kind of gambling-related activity.)

And Te’o’s phone, text, email and any such other records or even oral statements are all clearly “relevant” to any such investigation.

All AD Swarbrick, or President Jenkins, or the Notre Dame attorney had to do was request of Te’o that he produce all that information – and Te’o is guilty of an NCAA Bylaw 10.1 (a) ethical violation if he refuses to produce it.  It’s that simple.

I will fairly presume that the top Notre Dame brass were–and are-  well-aware of the mandates of NCAA Bylaw 10.1.

And I might also presume that Notre Dame’s top brass knew that, if Monti Te’o signed with an agent after the Bama game, and/or immediately dropped out of school (as frequently happens), there would be good reason for Te’o to, at that point, assert that he was no longer subject to NCAA jurisdiction, and had no obligation to respond in any way.

Seen in this light, the decision by Notre Dame’s top brass to not make such an immediate request of Te’o to produce relevant documents and evidence is shown to have been an intentional effort by Notre Dame to not just bury relevant evidence, but also insure that it would be very difficult to ever resurrect.

Once again: President Jenkins, AD Swarbrick, Notre Dame’s attorney didn’t want to know. And they made affirmative decisions to maximize the potential that no one would ever know. They apparently wanted probative evidence to disappear. We call that covering up. In violation of their duty under the NCAA Bylaws.

So Notre Dame’s failure to immediately make that simple request of Te’o for all “relevant” evidentiary records is further suggestion that Notre Dame conducted a bad faith investigation of very serious possible NCAA gambling-related violations. In addition, Notre Dame never alternatively even alerted the NCAA to allow NCAA staff to make that request of Te’o, and perform its’ own investigation. The NCAA should immediately and unilaterally initiate its’ own investigation of Notre Dame  and the Te’o ‘catfishing’ events.

About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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