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2 posts from February 19, 2013

February 19, 2013

Tuesday night UM/NCAA update with UM statement

A few notes on the UM/NCAA story, amid confirmed news that UM has received its notice of allegations:

Here's the UM statement from Donna Shalala:
“The University of Miami deeply regrets and takes full responsibility for those NCAA violations that are based on fact and are corroborated by multiple individuals and/or documentation.  We have already self-imposed a bowl ban for an unprecedented two-year period, forfeited the opportunity to participate in an ACC championship game, and withheld student-athletes from competition.

"Over the two and a half years since the University of Miami first contacted the NCAA enforcement staff about allegations of rules violations, the NCAA interviewed dozens of witnesses, including current and former Miami employees and student-athletes, and received thousands of requested documents and emails from the University.  Yet despite our efforts to aid the investigation, the NCAA acknowledged on February 18, 2013 that it violated its own policies and procedures in an attempt to validate the allegations made by a convicted felon.  Many of the allegations included in the Notice of Allegations remain unsubstantiated. 

"Now that the Notice of Allegations has been issued, let me provide some context to the investigation itself:

"Many of the charges brought forth are based on the word of a man who made a fortune by lying. The NCAA enforcement staff acknowledged to the University that if Nevin Shapiro, a convicted con man, said something more than once, it considered the allegation “corroborated”—an argument which is both ludicrous and counter to legal practice.  ·        

"Most of the sensationalized media accounts of Shapiro’s claims are found nowhere in the Notice of Allegations.  Despite their efforts over two and a half years, the NCAA enforcement staff could not find evidence of prostitution, expensive cars for players, expensive dinners paid for by boosters, player bounty payments, rampant alcohol and drug use, or the alleged hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts given to student-athletes, as reported in the media.  The fabricated story played well—the facts did not.   ·        

"The NCAA enforcement staff failed, even after repeated requests, to interview many essential witnesses of great integrity who could have provided first-hand testimony, including, unbelievably, Paul Dee, who has since passed away, but who served as Miami Athletic Director during many of the years that violations were alleged to have occurred.  How could a supposedly thorough and fair investigation not even include the Director of Athletics?   ·        

"Finally, we believe the NCAA was responsible for damaging leaks of unsubstantiated allegations over the course of the investigation.    Let me be clear again: for any rule violation—substantiated and proven with facts—that the University, its employees, or student-athletes committed, we have been and should be held accountable.  We have worked hard to improve our compliance oversight, and we have already self-imposed harsh sanctions.  

"We deeply regret any violations, but we have suffered enough. 
The University and counsel will work diligently to prepare our official response to the Notice of Allegations and submit it to the Committee on Infractions within the required 90-day time period. 
We trust that the Committee on Infractions will provide the fairness and integrity missing during the investigative process.”

 ### One source familiar with the NCAA’s initial draft of UM’s notice of allegations --- which became the basis of the final version --- said the charges “could have been worse but they’re still pretty bad. It’s more than a slap on the wrist. It will be upsetting. But there’s nothing shocking in there.”

### A UM official said before Shalala's statement that the NCAA “has given Shapiro far too much credence and run with a lot of what he said.”

### In recent weeks, the NCAA told UM that it likely would be accused of lack of institutional control, and it is believed that was included in the final notice of allegations.

### There has been a lot of haggling in recent weeks between UM and the NCAA about what should and should not be included in the allegations, and how they're framed.

### Former UM coaches were told to expect their allegations Tuesday night or Wednesday. Clint Hurtt, Aubrey Hill and at least one former basketball assistant were told a couple weeks ago that they likely would be charged with unethical conduct under the NCAA's 10/1 law.

### The NCAA used multiple people to corroborate some of Shapiro’s claims, including several former UM players who were compelled to speak to the NCAA and others that were not.

### Also corroborating some of the allegations were some people who were granted immunity -- players recruited by UM but did not attend UM, and players who transferred from UM.  

### Shapiro gave the NCAA four boxes of evidence, including credit card receipts and bank statements.

### According to an NCAA source, UM has asked the NCAA for permission to appear before the 18-person infractions committee during a scheduled infractions committee meeting on Saturday. The NCAA has expressed reluctance to allow UM on the calendar on such short notice.

UM wanted to meet with the committee on Saturday to deal with preliminary issues.

UM then would have a formal meeting with the infractions committee in April or June. After that full hearing in front of the infractions committee, UM would expect to receive its punishment within two to four months.

### One UM source believed UM would likely appeal penalties that extend beyond a slap on the wrist, such as another postseason bowl ban.

Tuesday report: UM braced for more aggravation and a battle; Heat All-Star break report

On the morning after another dark day for the NCAA, and an upsetting one for UM, the UM administration is braced to receive more aggravation in the next day, two or three, when the notice of allegations is sent along to UM officials.

UM is fully aware there will be plenty in the NOA that will be upsetting. That’s because the NCAA is using evidence former UM recruits who went to school elsewhere and players who transferred from UM (several of both groups were granted immunity in exchange for throwing UM under the bus), several ex-Canes who talked (several voluntarily and several others because they were compelled by NCAA rules), and lots of documents and other information provided by convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro, among other things. At least one former assistant coach has admitted wrongdoing.

The words "lack of institutional control" have been discussed in the UM/NCAA talks, but we do not have confirmation that they will actually appear in the notice of allegations. That remains to be seen, but UM is braced for that very real possibility.

UM will fight this hard. “It’s going the distance, and we’re going to defend ourselves aggressively,” one UM official said.

We’ve posted two things below: My story from today’s paper which supplemented the main story on the topic, and a look at where every key Heat player stands at the All-Star break.


For 18 months, the University of Miami’s philosophy has been to cooperate with the NCAA in its investigation. But that approach essentially ended Monday, when the NCAA both declined UM’s overtures to settle the matter – even amid the NCAA’s admission that it handled part of the case improperly.

UM president Donna Shalala called the NCAA’s conduct “unprofessional and unethical” and said the “process must come to a swift resolution.” Another UM official, not authorized to comment publicly, called the NCAA’s handling of the case “shameful” and said the school now would defend itself “aggressively.”

Last week, UM proposed a settlement, but the NCAA balked and school officials were left with the impression that NCAA president Mark Emmert believed he did not have the support of two key boards – made up of university presidents - to settle with UM and circumvent the usual process for recruiting cases.

A UM official said the school does not believe another postseason ban in football is warranted. And UM said it will not self-impose an NCAA Tournament basketball ban.

It remains to be seen if UM would appeal modest scholarship reductions in football, but Shalala said Monday that UM deserves no additional penalties.

UM is expected to receive its notice of allegations in the coming days, after which it would have 90 days to respond before the infractions committee. The NCAA’s next infractions committee hearing is scheduled for April. After that session, UM likely would not receive its penalties for at least two months.

But the NCAA didn’t announce North Carolina’s penalties until four months after its hearing. Central Florida appealed its football bowl ban last September and is still awaiting a response 15 ½ months after receiving its allegations.

“I bet leaders at Miami feel like some dumb asses for not fighting and taking a stand against the NCAA,” former UM football star Alonzo Highsmith, now a Green Bay Packers executive, tweeted Monday. “We got rolled over and got played by everyone.”

Kenneth Wainstein, whose law firm conducted the investigation into the NCAA’s improper conduct in the UM investigation, said 20 percent of the evidence against UM has been tossed, including the Sean Allen and Michael Huyghue depositions, 13 interviews and parts of 12 others that used information from those depositions, and two other interviews with Allen.

The investigation determined that NCAA enforcement staff members knowingly circumvented legal advice to hire Nevin Shapiro’s criminal defense attorney. Among details in the 52-page report:

### The NCAA paid Shapiro’s attorney at least $19,500 (mostly for legal services, some for out of pocket expenses) and transferred $4500 to Shapiro’s prison account for phone calls. NCAA officials visited Shapiro three times in prison, and he gave them four boxes of documents, including bank and credit card records and yacht records.

### Naima Stevenson, the NCAA’s associate general counsel, learned last September that investigator Ameen Najjar – a former police officer who was fired by the NCAA last May for undisclosed reasons – disregarded the legal department’s advice and struck a deal with Perez late in 2011 for her role in assisting the case. Emmert was then informed last September.

Najjar said he told Perez the enforcement staff would not pay her for billable hours, but they could reimburse her for costs and expenses. But Perez said Najjar told her the NCAA would pay her for “costs and fees.”

### When Stevenson learned last September that Perez was paid for the depositions, the NCAA began removing evidence tied to those depositions but did not inform UM it was doing that until Jan. 11.

### UM attorneys knew Najjar was using Perez to gets depos but didn’t know the NCAA was paying her until the NCAA told UM on Jan. 11.

### Najjar told his supervisors that using the bankruptcy proceedings to subpoena Allen and Huyghue was necessary because “I do not believe we will be able to secure interviews” with them otherwise. And other people interviewed “gave seemingly false or incomplete information in their unsworn interviews.”

### Perez also wanted to subpoena UM basketball booster Dave Leshner and Shapiro’s bodyguard, Mario Sanchez, but neither materialized.

### Perez told Najjar that Shapiro wanted to help partly because “conducting these depositions would help Shapiro get revenge on UM and its student athletes and coaches who had turned their back on him.”

### Najjar showed up to the Allen deposition in December 2011, but Allen’s attorney asked him to leave the room. Najjar provided 34 “areas” the NCAA wanted Perez to discuss. Shapiro also wrote some questions.

### Perez spoke to the NCAA in 2011 and 2012 about using Luther Campbell’s defamation suit against Shapiro in Florida state court as a vehicle for securing witness testimony and documents, but she never gave the NCAA records because of a dispute over payment.





Miami opens its post-All-Star break schedule Wednesday at Atlanta. Sizing up where each of the key players stand heading out of the break:

### LeBron James: Start with this: No player in history has ever produced the collecting numbers that James is averaging this season: 27.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and shooting 56.5 percent from the field. And there’s this: James had made 69 percent of his shots over the past seven games – including 51 for 61 in the paint and 14 for 26 on threes.

“He’s the most versatile player of all time,” Magic Johnson said. “Kudos to him for improving his game.”

### Dwyane Wade: Spoelstra contends he’s playing more efficiently than ever before.  His scoring average (21) is nearly four points below his career average, but he’s shooting a career-high 50.5 percent, best among two guards. And he seemingly has regained his lift after offseason knee surgery.

“They can’t win without Wade,” Lakers forward Antawn Jamison said. “He’s still one of the best players in the league.”

### Chris Bosh: The offensive numbers are impressive: His 55.5 shooting percentage is well above his first two seasons with the Heat (49.6 and 48.7). And in the final five minutes of close games (margin of five or less), Bosh has made 18 of 21 shots – easily the best in the league.

His 7.4 rebounding average would be a career low, but he enters Wednesday with three consecutive double figure rebounding games --- the first time he has achieved that all season.

### Mario Chalmers: His shooting percentage has dipped from 44.8 to 41.3, and he can exasperate with his uneven play. But this is encouraging: Given more responsibilities to set up the offense, Chalmers has 29 assists and just six turnovers in his past nine games, and his overall turnover average has dipped from last season (2.2 to 1.4). And he has the Heat’s second-best plus/minus ratio (behind James), with Miami outscoring teams by 364 with Chalmers on the court.

### Udonis Haslem: Despite starting 31 games, he’s averaging just 19 minutes – about 10 below his career average. His rebounding (13.6 per 48 minutes) is down only slightly from recent years, and the Heat’s best plus/minus lineup features Haslem with The Big Three and Chalmers.

On the down side, he’s shooting just 32 percent on all attempts beyond two shoot. His once reliable mid-range jumper remains elusive.

### Shane Battier: For most of the season the Heat has allowed fewer points per possession with Battier on the floor than any regular, along with part-timer Joel Anthony). But what has been particularly helpful has been his three-point shooting: 39.9 percent, compared with 33.1 the past two seasons.

He has been especially deadly on corner threes (46 percent), and Spoelstra said the Heat’s ball movement is at its best when Battier is getting those shots.

### Ray Allen: The ride has been bumpy at times, including a recent 4 for 28 slump. His three-point percentage stands at 41.1, down from 45.3 in Boston. But he’s shooting 53 percent in clutch situations.

### Chris Andersen: He’s still working on his conditioning and has collected at least four foul in four of his 10 games, despite limited minutes. The Heat is minus-eight with Andersen on the floor, but his energy has made a difference at times, and his rebounds per 48 minutes (15.5) is a bit ahead of his 14.1 career average.

### Norris Cole: The turnovers are down from his rookie season (from 1.6 to 1.1 per game) and he is an improved shooter from 16 to 23 feet (44 percent). Though he is finishing at the rim better than a year ago, he’s shooting just 26 percent (12 for 45) on shots from 3 to 16 feet. But he’s undoubtedly a better player than the one who struggled the second half of last season.

### Rashard Lewis: After falling out of the rotation for more than a month, Lewis has begun receiving regular, albeit uneven, minutes as Miami’s 10th man. He is shooting 41.8 percent on three-pointers, but Miami has been outscored by 67 with Lewis in the game.

### Joel Anthony: His minutes have been dramatically curtailed since Andersen’s addition, but he still figures to play in spots, usually when Andersen is in foul trouble. His defense remains an asset, but his 9.2 rebounds per 48 minutes is fourth-worst among NBA centers.

### Mike Miller: He hasn’t been used in seven of the last eight games – he missed one of those with the flu – because Spoelstra more often has opted for Lewis’ size over Miller’s diverse skill set. But he could still be a factor in the playoffs, depending on matchups.