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More tidbits from UM/NCAA case; Heat chatter; Broadcast notes

Notes on a Monday night/Tuesday morning:

### In UM’s motion to dismiss the case against the Hurricanes and the NCAA enforcement staff’s response, one of many caustic and fascinating exchanges between the sides details how the NCAA spread what appeared to be misinformation regarding its interview with former Canes quarterback Kyle Wright and how it came about.

To refresh: Wright was interviewed by now-retired NCAA investigator Rich Johanningmeier on Feb. 24, 2012.

Brynna Barnhart, the NCAA’s assistant director of enforcement, told UM that Wright called the NCAA to initiate an interview – not the other way around – and that Johanningmeier knew what to ask Wright because he received a tip from a confidential source about improper benefits.

UM asserted that the NCAA asked questions of Wright that it wouldn’t have even known to ask if it hadn’t used testimony from a bankruptcy court hearing with Sean Allen. Allen’s deposition and subsequent NCAA interview were tossed, as most of you know, and any information from other interview subjects that was gleaned from using Allen’s testimony was also supposed to be tossed.

Barnhart told UM that the interview happened only because Wright called the NCAA “out of the blue.”

But when UM called Wright on Feb. 25 of this year, Wright said the NCAA called him in February 2012 – not the other way around – and he agreed to the interview after hearing about Allen’s deposition from a “third party.”

UM asked the obvious question: If Johanningmeier had a tip from a confidential source about improper benefits, why would he not call Wright on his own? Why would the NCAA need to wait for Wright to call them “out of the blue?, as Barnhart claimed?

The NCAA’s claim simply didn’t add up.

In its motion to dismiss, UM said Barnhart “repeatedly misled the university” and “should be immediately removed from any continuing involvement with the university’s case.”

In its response to UM’s motion to dismiss, NCAA interim vice president of enforcement Jonathan Duncan said the NCAA originally struck Wright’s comments about a bachelor party from the evidence it used because it knew details came from the Allen interview.

But the NCAA has now agreed to strike all of the Wright interview “based on new information developed during [UM’s] subsequent interview of Wright on Feb. 25, 2013.”

Duncan then staunchly defended Barnhart, claiming she told UM only what she was told by the two former investigators on the case: Johanningmeier, who retired last summer, and Ameen Najjar, who was fired last May.

Barnhart said she was not involved in the interview with Wright and merely was repeating what Johanningmeier and Najjar told her. Of course, Najjar has his own credibility issues.

“It is clear Barnhart did not intentionally mislead [UM] and the committee on infractions should deny the request that she be removed from the case,” Duncan said. “It is insulting and incredulous that [UM] would attack her.”

### Though the infractions committee – which will decide what, if any additional punishment will be given to UM – has said it does not believe it has the authority to dismiss the case before a hearing in mid-June, UM insists there is precedent.

UM cited a case involving Pittsburgh in the late 1970s.

“Individuals involved in the enforcement at the time recall the case was dismissed by the Committee of Infractions on the basis of finding that evidence had been fabricated by a member of the NCAA staff,” UM wrote in its motion to dismiss. “The specific information that was found to be fraudulent impacted an individual allegation, but the finding so undermined the COI’s confidence in the enforcement staff’s evidence that the case was dismissed.”

UM added that ‘the scope of misbehavior by the enforcement staff [in the UM case] equals or exceeds the concerns that led to dismissal in the Pittsburgh case.”

The NCAA’s Duncan, predictably, disagrees, claiming his “enforcement staff was unable to locate any substantive information about the case because there is no public report available.” There’s no public report because the case was dismissed, Duncan. Of course you know that.

The infractions staff should consider that Pittsburgh case before deciding whether to drop the case against UM.

UM does not expect the case to be dropped before a hearing.

### Coveted four-star power forward Demetrius Henry "liked his visit" to UM this past weekend --- according to his AAU coach - and will choose among UM, USF and South Carolina later this month.

### On Monday, the Heat became the 16th team to win at least 65 games during the regular season. Of the previous 15, 12 have won an NBA title. Miami can become the 12th team to win 66 games by beating Orlando on Wednesday.

Also, Miami finished an amazing 15-1 on the second night of back-to-back games, equaling the 2006-07 Mavericks’ all-time record.

### Erik Spoelstra said his reserves have played so well that some of those players not a part of his usual rotation (including Mike Miller and Rashard Lewis) have made his playoff decisions tougher. Ray Allen, Chris Andersen, Norris Cole and Shane Battier are automatic to play, and it’s difficult to envision Spoelstra carving out regular minutes for a 10th rotation member.

### The Heat will open the playoffs against Milwaukee either Saturday or Sunday, with the schedule not expected to be released until Wednesday night. ABC – which has 3:30 p.m. games Saturday and Sunday – always has opted for the Heat when it has the opportunity, regardless of the opponent. This weekend, a tougher choice awaits for its two slots among the Heat series, Knicks-Celtics and the Lakers (if they make it) vs. the Thunder.

### Check the previous blog with a couple Monday Dolphins notes.

### Couple of broadcast items: HBO has a feature Marlins president David Samson on Real Sports at 10 p.m. Tuesday…. As expected, NBC replaced Tom Hammond with Dan Hicks as the voice of Notre Dame football... With the NBA canceling the Pacers-Celtics game Tuesday because of Monday’s tragedy in Boston, TNT will air Toronto-Atlanta instead.

### I'm on Twitter now, finally. Please follow me: @flasportsbuzz

 

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