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WKU's Morton resigns amid NCAA allegations

Thursday - 4/4/2013, 6:20pm  ET

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) -- Western Kentucky has announced that former Hilltoppers assistant Jake Morton has resigned as director of basketball operations.

The NCAA in February said Morton committed three recruiting violations as a Miami assistant between October 2008 and April 2009. The sports' governing body also said he accepted at least $6,000 in supplemental income from convicted felon and Miami booster Nevin Shapiro between October 2007 and October 2008.

Western Kentucky hired Morton as a Hilltoppers assistant in June 2011. He was re-assigned to director of basketball operations following the 2011-12 season.

School spokesman Michael Schroeder said Thursday that Morton resigned "to pursue coaching opportunities."

Morton, named along with former Miami assistants Clint Hurtt, Aubrey Hill and Jorge Fernandez in the NCAA's probe of the Hurricanes, has until May 20 to answer the allegations.

Former Hurricanes basketball coach Frank Haith, now at Missouri, was hit with a charge of failure "to promote an atmosphere for compliance."

NCAA has said that Fernandez, Hill and Hurtt provided misleading information to the governing body during the investigation, a violation of what's known as Rule 10.1 governing ethical conduct.

Miami is facing the charge that it had a "lack of institutional control" -- one of the worst things the NCAA can levy against a member school. The charge revolves around how the school allegedly failed to monitor the conduct of Shapiro, a convicted Ponzi scheme architect who provided cash, gifts and other items to players, coaches and recruits.

Shapiro is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

Hurtt, now at Louisville as the Cardinals' defensive line coach, faces allegations of receiving and providing impermissible benefits while at Miami. The NCAA in February sent Hurtt and the school a letter stating that he received a $2,500 loan and provided perks to Hurricanes recruits.

On March 22, Louisville coach Charlie Strong announced that Hurtt had been placed on administrative leave to prepare his response to the NCAA.

"We've given him that time and I think it's good that he's doing that," Strong said. "With the many distractions, he just can't do the job that we're asking him to do right now."

Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said in February that Hurtt "is due his due process" but didn't say whether he would be with the Cardinals next season.

As for Morton, Hill and Fernandez, they filed a motion asking that their cases be dismissed because of mistakes made by college athletics' governing body in its investigation of the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes' probe has revealed internal problems with the NCAA's handling of it by its own investigative staff.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said in January that the organization discovered "a very severe issue of improper conduct" -- specifically that the attorney for Shapiro was used "to improperly obtain information ... through a bankruptcy proceeding that did not involve the NCAA."

The three coaches believe that the NCAA's alliance with Shapiro's attorney, Maria Elena Perez, has created a scenario where they cannot "get a fair and reasonable proceeding." At least one of the people deposed by Perez as part of Shapiro's bankruptcy case appeared under subpoena, and his testimony would not have been otherwise available to NCAA investigators. College sports' governing body does not have subpoena power.

The investigators who were involved are no longer with the NCAA.


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