NCAA investigator wrote letter on Shapiro's behalf

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — One of the investigators who worked the NCAA's inquiry of Miami athletics wrote a letter on former booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro's behalf just days before he was sentenced two years ago.

In the same letter, dated June 3, 2011, Ameen Najjar even suggested that the NCAA could eventually hire Shapiro.

Najjar, who is no longer with the NCAA, told U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton that college sports' governing body could have utilized Shapiro "in the future as a consultant and/or speaker to educate our membership."

Najjar also said that Shapiro assisted the NCAA with investigations involving a number of schools. Najjar did not specify the schools — not even Miami, where Shapiro is the central figure in the scandal that has dogged the Hurricanes' athletic department for at least two years.

"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.

Najjar left the NCAA last year and attempts by the AP to reach him in recent weeks have been unsuccessful. The NCAA did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

Najjar's was just one of a number of letters written to the court on Shapiro's behalf before sentencing, none of which appeared to sway Wigenton. Four days after the date of Najjar's letter, the judge gave Shapiro a longer sentence than prosecutors asked for on the securities fraud and money laundering counts he admitted to in a plea agreement in September 2010.

She also ordered him to pay more than $82 million in restitution to his victims.

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