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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

November 15, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Another big hit to the NCAA’s enforcement credibility . . .

On a flight over the summer from Pittsburgh to Denver, I happened to be in an aisle seat, a row behind, and across from, a passenger who could charitably be described as chatty. He struck up a conversation with a woman across from him, which would have been OK but for three things — he didn’t stop for most of a three-hour flight, he was obnoxiously loud, and I was trying to work. (The sweep of the hassles associated with flying never ceases to amaze me.)

Well, a similar doofus must have been flying just about three days later on a Chicago-to-Memphis route, but his indiscretions could have much more serious fallout. It has to do with the NCAA investigation of Shabazz Muhammad at UCLA and an attorney who alleges she was seated behind a guy who was blabbing about how Muhammad wasn’t going to be eligible this year. And how did he know? According to the attorney, the man’s girlfriend — “Abigail,” as named by the woman overhearing this — was investigating it, and she told him.

Turns out the lead investigator on the Muhammad case is one Abigail Grantstein, assistant director of NCAA enforcement.

Here’s the LA Times story of the events.

If the attorney behind the man is found credible, this is a hell of a problem for NCAA enforcement — not just for the Muhammad case, but for its image.

The story immediately called to mind events around the Rick Neuheisel/gambling saga that resulted in his firing from the UW back in 2003. When a pair of NCAA investigators came to interview him, they managed not to properly activate a tape recorder and thus weren’t able to recreate the entire conversation.

Then there was an e-mail — a key piece of evidence by the Neuheisel team against the NCAA — between two high-level NCAA administrators, in which one wrote that NCAA gambling chief Bill Saum “wants to make an example of Neuheisel. Saum should not be the person to decide a coach’s fate to give him clout over institutions.”

Saum was reassigned not long after the Neuheisel trial in 2005. Whether there’s a link between that action and his stance on Neuheisel can’t be proven.

In any case, you’d like to think overzealousness, and loose lips, wouldn’t be part of the NCAA investigative process.

I understand that these people are human, just like the rest of us. People make mistakes, and some of those people are NCAA investigators. And husbands and wives talk over dinner, as do boyfriends and girlfriends.

But isn’t it a given that sensitive subjects ought to stay at the dinner table, rather than be broadcast in the confines of a crowded airplane?

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