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UM will push for settlement; Coley tells FSU he is taking Miami job; NCAA/UM fallout

A couple of Thursday updates:

1) In the wake of the NCAA's embarrassing revelation this week, UM intends to push hard for a settlement with the NCAA, provided president Mark Emmert is willing (which is questionable) and provided the terms are fair and friendly to UM, according to multiple sources.

"They haven't come to us," one UM official said of the NCAA. But "it's smart to get something done. We've suffered plenty. They would negotiate something reasonable."

But it would be highly unusual for a settlement to happen. Typically, a school receives its notice of allegations, then responds three months or so later in front of the infractions committee.

NCAA President Mark Emmert would need to make the decision to circumvent that process in this case.

The upside for Emmert to do that: Putting this embarrassment behind him. If UM goes in front of the infractions committee, the NCAA would likely be subjected to more negative publicity because UM would point out evidence that could be tied to improper investigative practices by the NCAA.

The downside: A settlement with UM would anger other schools that were not afforded the same opportunity. Also, Emmert said the depositions in question --- the ones that will be tossed out -- were only a small fraction of the evidence against UM.

If the NCAA is willing to do a settlement, UM --- which already has self-imposed two bowl bans -- might be willing to accept very modest scholarship reductions, according to the speculation of a UM official. But we haven't gotten to that point, so it's premature to say anything conclusive about what UM would be willing to offer.

John Infante, a widely-quoted NCAA expert, said he doubts Emmert will be willing to do a settlement. But UM will at least broach the issue.

2) Offensive coordinator James Coley informed FSU he is leaving to take the same job at UM, according to multiple sources.  An announcement could come today.

FSU agreed to match - but not surpass - UM's $500,000 offer. But FSU would not allow him to call plays; Fisher enjoys doing that himself.

At UM, Coley will run the offense and call plays. He has called plays only one season in his life - for a talent-deficient FIU team that finished 1-11.

Coley, a Miami High graduate, also liked the idea of returning home to Miami, where he has family.

Coley's move also should help UM in recruiting.

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Wednesday night update: Coley and NCAA news fallout:

 

Manny Navarro and I have confirmed that FSU offensive coordinator James Coley has interviewed with Al Golden and has told multiple people that he has been offered the UM offensive coordinator job. Coley is very intrigued because he would get to call plays - something he wouldn't be able to do at FSU.

One friend of Coley told me he expects Coley will take the UM job, while another said Coley indicated he had not decided as of Thursday afternoon.

FSU has agreed to match the $500,000 that Coley says UM would pay him, but Jimbo Fisher will not allow him to call plays. And Coley wants to call plays. Still, Fisher has been trying hard to pursuade him to stay.

### I've spent part of the afternoon re-reading Sean Allen's 170-plus page deposition with Nevin Shapiro's attorney to determine exactly what evidence from Allen will be tossed out if the NCAA removes that deposition from its case against UM, as NCAA President Mark Emmert indicated would be the case.

Here's my story on that topic:  

Sounding very much like an NCAA investigator, the attorney for Nevin Shapiro sat across the table from former UM equipment manager Sean Allen and peppered him with dozens of questions about alleged NCAA rules violations involving the University of Miami.

In the process of that deposition 13 months ago, attorney Maria Elena Perez extracted considerable incriminating information against UM – information that Allen has said he never would have disclosed if he had not been under oath.

The deposition was taken under the auspices of a bankruptcy court hearing – a proceeding designed to recoup money that Shapiro took from investors in a $900 million Ponzi scheme that led to Shapiro being sentenced to a 20-year jail term.

But a review of the deposition on Wednesday revealed that many of Perez’s questions had nothing to do with financial issues, and dozens had more to do with alleged violations by UM than any attempts to trace money that could be recouped.

That deposition with Allen --- and another Perez deposition with former sports agent Michael Huyghue – likely will be removed from the NCAA’s evidence against UM presuming an NCAA investigation confirms its belief that the information was improperly obtained, NCAA president Mark Emmert indicated Wednesday.

Perez submitted a bill for payment to the NCAA --- which the NCAA would consider a conflict because she was representing Shapiro.

What’s potentially problematic for UM, however, is that Allen met with the NCAA after that deposition and was asked to recap and confirm allegations that he made during the deposition. It’s unclear if Allen’s responses during that interview will be used.

Allen met with the NCAA in August 2011 but previously told The Miami Herald that he was not truthful during that meeting. He said he was truthful during the deposition only because he was under oath.

Among the highlights of what Allen told Perez in the deposition, which Allen said was attended by an NCAA official:

### Asked by Perez if he ever witnessed Shapiro paying money to UM football or basketball players, Allen said: “Yes. I don’t remember the specifics. It was relatively small amounts… low hundreds.”

He also said: “I vaguely remember Nevin giving [former UM running back] Tyrone Moss some sort of money for his baby or something like that.”

#### Allen said Shapiro gave him $3000 to entertain Ray-Ray Armstrong, Dyron Dye and Andre DuBose during an unofficial recruiting visit to UM. “Nevin said, ‘Take those guys out to a strip club and make sure they have a good time,’” Allen said. Armstrong and Dye ultimately attended UM; DuBose went to Florida.

### During the deposition, Perez presented numerous pictures to Allen showing Shapiro with several UM coaches and players, including basketball coach Frank Haith, assistant coach Jake Morton and football players Kellen Winslow, D.J. Williams and others.

Asked if Shapiro provided entertainment to UM players, Allen said: “Yes. Kellen, D.J. We would go on the boat. There would normally be food and drinks on the boat. They would go out to the club occasionally with Nevin.”

### Allen said he gave money to UM players who were being recruited by Axcess Sports, an agency co-owned by Shapiro and Huyghue. Allen confirmed those players included Tavares Gooden, Jon Beason and Devin Hester. “We’re talking small amounts of cash, maybe $50 here, because it was my own money.”

### Asked Shapiro’s motivation in giving players money, Allen said: “One, I think he enjoyed being around them. The other part is he ultimately wanted them to sign with Axcess Sports.”

### Allen, who worked for Axcess, said he brought UM players to Shapiro on behalf of Axcess, including Gooden, Hester and Kyle Wright. “I’m sure I’m missing someone. It was more bringing them around Nevin, and he was the one that would talk to them about that sort of stuff.”

### Allen told Perez that Shapiro would give money to the winners of bowling events at Lucky Strikes on Miami Beach, and UM players participated in those tournaments.

### Asked if he ever took players to Shapiro’s suite, Allen said: “Yes, one time that I remember: Jeffrey Godfrey and I believe Teddy Bridgewater was with him.” Both were high school players at the time, and neither attended UM.

“Miami was never serious about [Godfrey],” Allen said. “Jeff and I were at Nevin’s house one time and I remember Nevin giving him a pair of old white used sneakers. I want to say Nevin gave me $100 or something and said, ‘Go out to eat.”

### Allen said said he took Bridgewater to meet with UM coach Al Golden soon after Golden took the job.

### Allen said he “can say with certainty that Nevin paid” for a meals and a strip club outing with Haith and Morton.

### Perez repeatedly pressed Allen after he said he had no recollection of giving or witnessing Shapiro giving Morton $10,000, money that Shapiro claimed was ultimately to be forwarded to a family member of basketball player DeQuan Jones.

“I don’t want to trick you,” Perez said at one point. “I just want to understand what you’re saying.” Allen said: “I don’t remember doing it…. Possible it could have happened. I just really don’t remember.”

### Allen told Perez that Shapiro “had me take [former UM quarterback] Robert Marve to look at Escalades; Robert was paying for it.” He also said he saw former UM defensive back Randy Phillips at Shapiro’s home “multiple times.”

The deposition with Huyghue did not produce any significant incriminating information against Miami, according to a Herald analysis of the document.

Gary Freedman, a partner in the firm that is serving as the bankruptcy trustee in the case, said he was not aware that Perez was allegedly being paid by the NCAA until the news broke Wednesday.

“That was a shock to me,” he said. “I assumed anything she was doing was being done for the benefit of the client. [Allen and Huyghue] could have objected to the subpoena. I don’t believe they did.”

Freedman said the depositions with Allen and Huyghue were the only ones that Perez conducted and “we have not used the transcripts to try to recover money. We haven’t found the need.” The trustee has recouped $35 million in the case, Freedman said.

Though Freedman and partner Joel Tabas were aware the depositions were conducted, Freedman said Perez did not need their permission to do them.

He said in the Southern District of Florida, attorneys can issue subpoenas in bankruptcy court without the court’s permission. “Maria was representing Nevin,” Freedman said. “She wasn’t representing us.”

Asked if what Perez did was wrong, Freedman said: “I don’t know. I don’t know the agreement she had with her client or the NCAA. It wasn’t on my radar screen. As far as getting mad, it doesn’t affect anything we’re doing. [But] it could be a distraction.”

 

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