Can Miami’s Dyron Dye Sue the NCAA for Extortion?
Guest author: Benjamin Haynes, Esq.
University of Miami’s football player Dyron Dye was disciplined back in 2011 by the NCAA when the NCAA concluded that Dye had accepted impermissible benefits from a Miami Hurricane booster. Dye was required to sit out four games and was ordered to repay $738 in impermissible benefits. Now, as a senior, Dye is once again being investigated by the NCAA for potential rule violations stemming out of the same incident. On Tuesday May 28, NCAA investigators met with Dye for the third time. The reason for this third meeting was that the NCAA claimed that there are discrepancies between what Dye told the NCAA in 2011 about former Hurricanes assistant coach Aubrey Hill and what Dye wrote in a recently signed affidavit. Dye’s attorney, Darren Heitner, stated that “my client stands behind the statements he made in his affidavit, which we understand is supported by affidavits signed by other former players.” While Dye has already been penalized for receiving impressible benefits, this new allegation by the NCAA could result in further sanctions against Dye under NCAA Bylaw 10.1.
NCAA Bylaw 10.1 deals with unethical conduct. The rule specifically states that “unethical conduct by a prospective or enrolled student-athlete or a current or former institutional staff member (e.g., coach, professor, tutor, teaching assistant, student manager, student trainer) may include, but is not limited to, the following.” The rule then goes on to list nine separate categories which may constitute unethical conduct. For purposes of this article, the category which the NCAA may potentially try and claim Dye violated is “(d) knowingly furnishing the NCAA or the individual’s institution false or misleading information concerning the individual’s involvement in or knowledge of matters relevant to a possible violation of an NCAA regulation.” Dyron Dye’s discrepancies between his recent affidavit and 2011 statements could potentially constitute a violation of knowingly furnishing the NCAA with false and misleading information. However, these may be some valid defenses to these alleged discrepancies.
Dyron Dye wrote in his statement that he felt that the NCAA had twisted his testimony. In fact, many of the current and former Miami Hurricane football players that were interviewed by former investigator Rich Johanningmeier stated that the NCAA used means of intimidation and threats while interviewing the players. Those alleged threats, according to Dye’s affidavit, were threats of penalizing the players by making them ineligible and pulling their scholarships. If such allegations are found to be true, then the NCAA could potentially be sued for extortion.
Under Florida law, specifically Florida Statute 836.05, whoever maliciously threatens to accuse another of any crime or offense, or by such communication maliciously threatens an injury to the person, property or reputation of another, or maliciously threatens to expose another to disgrace, or to expose any secret affecting another, with intent thereby to extort money or with intent to compel the person so threatened to do any act or refrain from doing any act against his or her will, they shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree.
Therefore, under this Florida statute, Dye may be able to argue that the NCAA maliciously threatened, against Dye’s will, to injure his property or reputation if Dye did not testify in a manner consistent with what the NCAA was directing. In fact, Dye stated that he “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.” One would think that the NCAA’s primary goal in conducting such an interview would be to get the absolute truth of the situation, and not stoop to the means of threatening teenagers and young men in order to have facts twisted in the NCAA’s favor.
It is expected that more former Hurricane players involved in this incident will come forth and state that the NCAA threatened scholarships and eligibility to them as well. The more players that come out and corroborate Dye’s testimony, the stronger case Dye will be able to build when defending himself amidst a 10.1 ethical violation allegation, and potentially seeking an extortion cause of action against the NCAA.
Benjamin Haynes, Esq. wrote this article. Haynes is a former Division 1 Basketball Player at Oral Roberts University and currently practices law in the State of Florida. Follow him at @BHaynes32.