James takes over an athletic department that is under investigation for improper benefits provided by a booster and is awaiting sanctions from college sports’ governing body. He replaces Shawn Eichorst, who signed a five-year contract in October to become the University of Nebraska’s athletic director.
“Blake James has proven that he has the experience, skills, leadership and especially the love for the university that we need in athletics,” Shalala said in the statement.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association inquiry stems from a 2011 story on Yahoo! Sports in which former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro said he gave cash and benefits, such as cars and yacht rides, to at least 72 Hurricanes between 2002 and 2010. Such incentives are a violation of NCAA rules.
The Hurricanes, who have won at least a share of five college football national championships since 1983, finished the 2012 season with a 7-5 record.
Although they were eligible to play in the postseason, the school imposed a bowl ban for the second consecutive year to try to lessen future NCAA penalties.
The NCAA last August ordered eight Miami players to miss games and repay benefits from Shapiro, endorsing a decision initiated by the school.
In January, the NCAA acknowledged it broke its own rules for acquiring evidence during its investigation of Miami and begun an internal inquiry. It won’t make any rulings on the Miami allegations until its own review has been completed.
James, in his third year with the university, was the athletic director at the University of Maine from 2005 to 2010, where he focused on marketing, ticketing, retail and fundraising.
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