By Zac Ellis
The ongoing saga involving the NCAA's case against Miami has taken another bizarre twist: Dyron Dye, a Miami football player, told Coral Gables police that an NCAA official attempted to influence him into implicating the Hurricanes' athletic department as part of the governing body's investigation into the school, the Miami Herald reports.
Defensive end Dye and his attorney filed an incident report Friday in which Dye alleged that former NCAA investigator Rich Johanningmeier "coerced" him into providing answers that would aid the NCAA's case against the Hurricanes. The report stated that the incident occurred in the second of two interviews between Dye and Johanningmeier in August 2011.
According to the police report, obtained by the Herald through an open records request, Dye's attorney Darren Heitner said that “prior to the start of the second interview, Mr. Johanningmeier coerced Mr. Dye into providing favorable answers for his investigation.”
Dye could not recall specifics of the conversation but did report that he felt "intimidated" and said his football eligibility felt "threatened" by Johanningmeier.
The NCAA could accuse Dye of an unethical conduct violation for inconsistencies between his second interview with Johanningmeier and a previously filed affidavit on behalf of a former Miami assistant coach, Aubrey Hill. In the affidavit Dye said Johanningmeier "continually threatened me if I did [not] comply with him. I felt intimidated by Mr. Johanningmeier and I was also concerned regarding the possibility of losing my scholarship and athletic eligibility. ... I felt compelled to testify in a manner that would be consistent with the manner in which Mr. Johanningmeier was directing me in order to keep my eligibility. ... I feel it is unfair the NCAA has twisted my testimony to use it negatively against coach Hill.”
Former Miami players Olivier Vernon, Eric Moncur, Randy Phillips and Jacory Harris also signed affidavits on behalf of Hill, and Vernon told the Herald in an interview last week that when he was questioned by Johanningmeier, "he made it seem like he wanted you to answer it as to where you did something wrong. He flipped it on us ... Sometimes you blurt out something that you were pressured into saying. He pressured us a lot more.” Johanningmeier has been linked to two past lawsuits. He and the NCAA previously were sued for defamation by two former Alabama coaches before a court tossed out a $30 million judgment for one coach on technical grounds. Johanningmeier remains a factor in an ongoing lawsuit by former Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill where the NCAA investigator is accused of knowingly making false claims and using information from a biased Mississippi booster. Johanningmeier retired in May 2012.