NCAA Case a Reminder to CFOs about Ethical Conduct

The case between the NCAA and the University of Miami took an interesting twist, as the former CFO of Shapiro’s Capitol Investments just gave a revealing testimony. The case claims that an attorney by the name of Marc Levinson assisted Nevin Shapiro in violating state law, defrauding investors, and purposefully breaking NCAA rules. As far as the NCAA goes, Shapiro is accused of trying to take advantage of his relationship with University of Miami athletes, recruits, and perspective athletes.

Roberto Torres is the former CFO for Shapiro’s Capitol Investments and his latest testimony is quite revealing. According to former CFO Torres, Shapiro was partying on his private yacht with Miami athlete recruits. However, much of the evidence gathered from Roberto Torres has been deposed because he himself is serving a sentence of four years in prison for his participation in a $930 million Ponzi scheme that Shapiro ran.

This case and the role that Roberto Torres plays in it is a reminder to CFOs everywhere about the importance of ethical conduct. The chief financial officer and his team are ethical leaders in any organization because they are literally plugged into all areas of a business. Since they interact with every team and division, finance professionals often dictate the ethical culture of a company unknowingly. To positively promote ethical business, CFOs must consider 3 things:

  1. Reputation
  2. Transparency
  3. Code of Ethics

First and foremost, CFOs must remember to ensure that their reputation is upheld not only within the company, but externally as well. Just as Roberto Torres’s original information was discarded because he was serving time in jail for a Ponzi scheme, CFOs must remember that people will only take them as seriously as their reputation allows. Building trust, goodwill, and other factors for a healthy reputation takes time and healthy practices.

Second, CFOs that maintain transparency not only make it easier for the company to deal with “the numbers,” but also serve as an accountability check. This consideration will help keep the reputation of a CFO untarnished.

Finally, CFOs should always abide by their company’s Code of Ethics. While the code will inevitably vary from company to company, it will generally cover the same essentials such as honesty, integrity, maintaining professional skills to fulfill constituent needs, etc. By following these considerations, CFOs will be able to learn from the lesson that Roberto Torres, Shapiro, and the NCAA provide.