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NCAA gives ultimatum to players in UM investigation; Canes, Dolphins, Marlins, Heat chatter

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

The NCAA has delivered a new and disturbing ultimatum to numerous former University of Miami football players: Either talk to us or we’ll believe Nevin Shapiro’s claims against you.

The NCAA last week mailed a letter to former players that allegedly committed NCAA violations by accepting gifts from Shapiro, including dinners, prostitutes, trips to nightclubs, cash and other perks. Shapiro told the NCAA that 114 players committed violations; Yahoo previously identified 72 of them.

Only players who were playing college football at the time the investigation was launched are required to speak to the NCAA. Thirteen current or former UM football players did so in 2011. So the players who were sent the letter last week are no longer playing college football; some are in the NFL.

The letter, which I obtained, gives the players a Friday deadline to speak to the NCAA. What’s surprising is that the NCAA states in the letter that it will conclude the players committed violations if they do not respond.

UM officials were privately hopeful that many of the allegations made against players who left UM several years ago cannot be corroborated. Unless the NCAA is bluffing, it appears it might take Shapiro’s word on these claims unless the players refute them.

In recent days, several players and their attorneys have been trying to decide whether to speak to the NCAA.  Even Tuesday, one said he's not sure what he will do. So it’s unclear how many players will speak to the NCAA.

Here’s how the letter to one player attorney reads:

"The purpose of this letter is to apprise you that the NCAA enforcement staff is requesting to schedule an interview with your clients regarding their knowledge of or involvement in possible NCAA violations concerning the University of Miami, Florida, football program.

"Interviewing your clients is important in order for the enforcement staff to conduct a thorough investigation, and both the staff and the institution request you and your clients’ cooperation in this matter. However, at this time, all attempts to schedule and execute interviews with [blank] have been unsuccessful. As a result, this letter serves as a formal and final request by the NCAA enforcement staff for interviews with [blank] to be completed by Nov. 23, 2012.

“If we do not hear back from you or your clients by that time, the staff will consider the non-response as your client’s admission of involvement in NCAA violations. You may contact me at [blank] in order to arrange this interview. Your assistance in this matter is appreciated.”

Sincerely,

Molly Richman,

Assistant Director of Enforcement

### My opinion: Regardless of whether it's bluffing or not, the NCAA - by sending this letter to former players - is being heavy-handed and manipulative. Considering the NCAA has no jurisdiction over former players, it's offensive that it would threaten to believe a convicted felon without additional corroboration. A felon, for that matter, who's in jail for a crime involving lying (a Ponzi scheme).

CHATTER

### Keep this in mind: Shapiro claims player violations started in 2002, but the NCAA’s four-year statue of limitations doesn’t apply when there’s a longstanding pattern of willful violations that continues into the past four years. The NCAA previously told UM that it will consider invoking that “willful violators” clause.

### Though several high-ranking UM officials believed UM should play in a bowl game if it won the ACC Coastal, a UM official said the school went with the advice of outside attorney Mike Glazier, who thought it would mitigate future penalties but was given no assurance that UM would not have any more bowl bans. Though Penn State got a four-year bowl ban this year for the Jerry Sandusky tragedy, no school has had a recruiting-related three-year bowl ban since Oklahoma State (1989-91).

One upshot, a UM official said, is self-imposing lessens the chances of prematurely losing seniors- and juniors-to-be, who could transfer and play elsewhere immediately, if UM gets a one- or two-year bowl ban, respectively.

### Some former players are upset about UM’s self-imposed bowl ban --- “These players don’t deserve it and Miami could be punishing themselves for no reason!” Olivier Vernon told me --- but current players “were told to watch what we say,” Brandon McGee said. That's one reason why you haven't heard any current Canes voice displeasure.

### Seniors McGee and Mike James are expected to be drafted, and UM hopes a few juniors (including Seantrel Henderson and Curtis Porter) don't turn pro, too. UM lost five early entrants to the NFL last year, but Al Golden said Tuesday: "There's a stronger relationship with a lot of these young men [now].... A lot of guys understand from last year, perhaps guys would have gone higher if they had stayed. We want to make sure they have the facts, not just leaning on one side."

### Golden, on his WQAM radio show Tuesday night: "The thing people don't understand and accept is I want to be here for a really long time."

### Here’s what has changed in how teams are defending Ryan Tannehill: According to Matt Moore, he’s seeing more zone coverage and “looks that are better disguised.” Also key: Tannehill is being blitzed less; he faced only three blitzes against Buffalo and threw his only touchdown against one of them. His 2012 quarterback rating is 77.2 when blitzed, 66.5 when not blitzed.

“Teams are adjusting to what the Dolphins are doing. There’s not much separation from their receivers, so the windows are always tight that Ryan is throwing into,” ESPN’s Ron Jaworski said off air Tuesday.

### Coach Joe Philbin said Tuesday that owner Stephen Ross – who expected this team would be a playoff contender – “has been fantastic, very, very supportive” through this losing streak but “of course, I give him a 72-hour cool down period.” Ross, predictably, was down in the wake of the Bills loss, a friend said. But he likes this coaching staff.

### Chris Leible, one of Jose Reyes’ agents, said Reyes was “shocked” about being traded and confirmed a Fox report that the Marlins had orally promised he would not be traded. “He was told many times he wasn’t going anywhere,” Leible said, declining to say who told Reyes that. (Another friend of Reyes said it was Jeffrey Loria who told him.)

Mark Buehrle also was angry and told associates that he, too, was told he wouldn't be traded, an associate said… The Red Sox pursued Reyes before the Toronto deal but offered only marginal prospects and wouldn’t pay most of his salary.

### Marlins executive Larry Beinfest suggested he would explore adding a power-hitting center fielder (either a cheap free agent -- good luck with finding one of those -- or through a trade) but otherwise would go with a combination of Justin Ruggiano, Gorkys Hernandez and Bryan Petersen in center. Chris Coghlan also might get yet another chance.… Beinfest said Wade LeBlanc, Brad Hand and Tom Koehler will compete for the fifth rotation spot behind Ricky Nolasco (Beinfest won’t guarantee he will be back), Jacob Turner, Henderson Alvarez and Nate Eovaldi.

### Though the Heat’s Mario Chalmers continues to allow too many blow-bys defensively, his improved passing is encouraging: His career-best 3.1-to-1 assist to turnover ratio ranks 10th among starting point guards. Last season, his 1.56-to-1 ratio was third-worst.

“We need Chalmers to be low turnover,” Shane Battier said. “He still has a tendency to go off the reservation and get crazy at times, but he’s better. He makes less young-player mistakes.”

Comments

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Ken

Isn't that what the NCAA did with USC when Reggie Bush refused to cooperate with the investigation? And the accuser was also a convicted felon.

Allen

Nothing new here. That's exactly what they did to Derrick Rose. He wouldn't cooperate, they assumed he was guilty and Memphis got tagged.

Mainecane

I want to see the NCAA track down and Interview the strippers and prostitutes to go along with the righteous words of a convicted Felon. What happened to our Constitution? Donna, call the Attorney General's office!

Brian

If the explayers went and said nothing happened would the NCAA believe them?

FanAboutTown

The university has one of the best law schools in the country and has graduated hundreds, if not thousands, of top-notch attorneys. It is time for some of them to step up and not allow their alma mater and their fellow alumni to be bullied by the NCAA. I think this letter by the NCAA is grounds for a law suit in and of itself. To state in writing that they will believe a convicted felon and impose sanctions that may well cost the university millions of dollars, not to mention to damage their reputation, is really quite unbelievable and even illegal. This is a form of extortion and should not be allowed to go unchallenged.

Herbert Walden

The NCAA is out of control at all thses schools, they are part of the problem of not paying players in college. The mega conferences need to all join in and do their own disciplne and not use or disolve NCAA. Make a committee of coachs odd number say 5 from coast to coast to do a better job than NCAA. Any lawyer will tell you a crimnal will lie over and over take his or her word you are just as bad, it takes proof.

tigrjm76

Dear "standupfortheU"--you enumerated several instances where the NCAA hasn't (or at least hasn't yet) stepped up with appropriate penalities....Certainly the unc and Auburn mentions hold water. Alabama did a "mea culpa" concerning the clothing merchant who'd long been supplying their players with suits,etc and self-imposed some penalties.
But I'm curious as to the Clemson reference "giving cash and gifts". There's been absolutely nothing in the media regarding such an issue and there's been no substantive NCAA investigation at Clemson since the very late 80's. So where's this coming from???
Incidentally, everyone associated with UMiami athletics for the last 30 years needs to be VERY glad the NCAA doesn't have legal power including subpoena capabilities.

UCheat

'canes don't have the truth to stand behind so they stand behind a wall of lawyers and obfuscation. You're just making it worse.

You think the NCAA views all these lawyers and denials as cooperation?

Gary

NCAA let this dyke be opened! Notre Dame going their own way with a TV contract, no punishment for the Mississippi State - Auburn raffle for Cam Newton etc! Now they are giving an ultimatum because they may or maynot believe Shapiro! This is hysterical! the best defense is a good offense! If I'm UM now I try to deal w/o the former players testimony and if the NCAA won't I threaten the NCAA in court!

Linda Berkland

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Penn State alumnus and of course, support any and all actions against the NCAA. It just strikes me as ironic that no one outside the PSU community cared that the NCAA imposed unprecedented sanctions against a team that never broke one rule and has NEVER even been investigated by the NCAA. They buckled to pressure based on a report which has since been shown time and again that it's not worthy to be used as toilet paper. But when they step out of line with some other program, all of the sudden something needs to be done! I applaud any and all universities efforts to get this dictatorship under control. Even if UM is guilty of these offenses, the NCAA needs to be held accountable for how they conduct their business!

Juan de la Cruz martinez

It sounds like a collection agency letter

Magic Marc

If they hit us too hard UM should appeal the punishment and shed light on the NCAA's crap for evidence and crappy investigative tactics.

Dana Young

The NCAA has a key role to play in college basketball and football: stop schools from paying the student-athletes like professionals. The school presidents didn't want bidding wars so they agreed among themselves not to pay the student-athlete outright or indirectly, as in you buy my momma a house and give my papa a job and me, just get me a nice car, with free gas and parking, and I'll tackle, dunk, run, shoot, whatever for u, until I flunk out or you can fix it so I can make my grades, or until I get a better offer from the pros. I can see the big picture as they see it and the role the NCAA has to play in this regard.

However, somewhere along the line, it seems the NCAA outgrew its mandate. The NCAA investigators approach it with the vigor of a religious zealot and squash the student-athlete like a bug if someone gives him a boat ride, or a lap dance, or runs a bowling for dollars tournament, or gives them free tattoos or pin money for an autograph. In many ways, they act like rent-a-cops making marijuana busts. They focus so much on the little things that they lose sight of the big picture and in the end, they create nothing but a mess and ruin a sport. I have more of a problem with John Calipari and Kentucky Basketball than I do with anything that the administration at Ohio State or Miami might have failed to control and it seems that Kentucky is playing by the rules. The NCAA's approach is way out-of-whack.

Why is it that Miami has been under investigation for nearly 18 months? Why is the NCAA sending this letter out now and not 17 months ago? When you have absolute authority, you do what you want when you want and protect your self-interest. That's wrong. Making players who did nothing wrong suffer the penalty for a School's past failures is even worse.

UCheat

Because Dana, they've lawyered-up and have advised all former players not to cooperate. Why would they advise thusly? Roaches don't like the light of day.

Every former coach, player, administrator or locker room attendant has been fired or advised to leave; why do you think that is?

There sure is a lot of smoke here for a program that's being picked on by the NCAA infractions committee.

Penguin

Excellent article!

In order to be credible, the NCAA needs to act fairly. Thus far, it has not met this standard.

Investigating this matter as slowly as it has, so that the threat of sanction looms from one season to the next, is in itself a violation of notions of fairness. No one should have to deal with undefined allegations of wrongdoing for such an extended amount of time.

The NCAA's sending this letter in an effort to strong-arm persons over whom they have no other potential power also violates notions of fairness. No court in this country could treat a witness this way. I can't imagine who at the NCAA thought that the letter was a good idea. Note to sender: shame on you.

I can only hope that this is a desperate act that reflects that the NCAA does not have enough to sanction UM very heavily. And, too, that the NCAA will understand from the reaction to news about this letter that it needs to close this investigation soon, and in an ethical manner.

BP

You know Miami fans are dumb because they still think all Nevin has are stories, when the fact is he kept documents, receipts, evidence, etc. You don't run a million $$$ ponzi scheme and keep poor records. This is also why Charles Robinson at yahoo only discussed 72, not the 114, because evidence on some is weak or not there, but on the main 72 was verified.

And it's not extortion or anything illegal like that because these former players face no penalties even if they are deemed to have committed the violation. Slander? If they did not do anything wrong then why wouldn't they speak? Defense attorneys have been "had" in this case, the NCAA can do this because it's no criminal court, the same rules don't apply. If Miami doesn't like the NCAA, FEEL FREE TO LEAVE.

If you don't punish the current program, just like penn state, then it teaches schools you can do WHATEVER you want and face no long term consequences as long as all people in charge are fired. That is the most dangerous precedent that could come from this.

Gio

You are all under the assumption that the NCAA only has Nevin's testimony as evidence. This is a sorry excuse for journalism. "NCAA is out of line".. clear homer bias.

Lt. Lois Einhorn

BP - ALL the evidence Shapiro has is available on Yahoo!, it's a bunch of nightclub recepits that don't prove anything.

sygma

Thank God they didn't trade their stuff for tattoos.

UCheat

Why is everyone acting guilty when there's nothing to hide? hmmm.

Can you say 'repeat offender'....I knew you could.

Mike

Why doesn't the NCAA ban schools from accepting donations for athletic purposes. Double standards!

bocefus

what idiots-the guys in the nfl do not give a rats ass about scum. all they have to do is lie and deny-works for every lawyer on the face of the planet. dat ain't me in dat picher-dats my brudders mamas cousons unca.he jus loo like me.

Chris

It's not blackmail at all.

The NCAA feels they have enough to believe the Shapiro reports in full. They are giving players a chance to refute (speak on their behalf). The former players won't because the NCAA has zero jurisdiction on them.

So what will happen is the charges will stand on Miami (who they do have jurisdiction on) and the NCAA will drop the hammer on them. And rightfully so.

AnonymousCane

Incredible and a great piece of reporting! This is not the last we will hear about this. UM law school has too many loyal grads and I know a few who will be outraged at this attempt at manipulation by the NCAA. Just incredible I expect this from Chavez or Chavez light's administration or Castro's Cuba but not here in the good ole used to be USA!

NC_Cane

Wow, the NCAA and Obama have a lot in common.....

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