The Associated Press is reporting that an NCAA investigator wrote a letter to the judge responsible for sentencing rogue Miami Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro, apparently vouching for Shapiro's character and suggesting that the booster may find future employment from the NCAA. Former NCAA investigator Ameen Najjar submitted a letter dated June 3, 2011 to U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton, praising Shapiro's role in unearthing inappropriate activity by boosters:
"Throughout the course of our interactions, it is my belief that Mr. Shapiro possesses a unique depth of knowledge and experience concerning representatives athletics interest ('Boosters'), agents and the provision of extra-benefits to student-athletes," Najjar wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.
The letter, which was written two months before Yahoo!'s Charles Robinson broke the news of Shapiro's alleged inappropriate support of Miami Hurricanes athletes, does not specify which schools Shapiro had helped investigate. It was written on NCAA letterhead and signed by Najjar as director of enforcement.
Najjar was prominently involved in the NCAA's investigation of Miami, and reportedly hired Shapiro's bankruptcy attorney to ask questions on behalf of the NCAA in an attempt to circumvent the organization's lack of subpoena power. Miami assistant equipment manager Sean Allen, who CBS Sports identified as Shapiro's "right-hand man" and who was subpoenaed to testify in Shapiro's bankruptcy trial, identified Najjar in the courtroom before testifying and asked that he be removed. Even after Najjer's removal, Allen was asked pointed questions about his role in the Miami program by Shapiro's attorney as part of that testimony. Najjar was later dismissed by the NCAA while the Miami case was pending for undisclosed reasons.
Najjar's attempt to rehabilitate Shapiro in the eyes of the judge was all for naught, as the former Miami booster was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to repay $82 million in restitution to his victims.