1) Wednesday news item: Power forward Donnavan Kirk, who once played for UM but left for DePaul, says he is returning to UM for one final season of eligibility (this season). He said today he picked UM over Colorado State.
2) FOR POSTSCRIPTS ON GAME 3 OF THE NBA FINALS, AND EVERYTHING LEBRON JAMES HAD TO SAY AFTERWARD, PLEASE READ THE LAST POST.
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN (updated at 11 a.m. Wednesday after first paragraph with news from SI's UM story)
Tidbits heading into UM’s hearing in front of the NCAA’s infractions committee this week:
### A high-ranking UM source involved in the case said the school will be surprised if it’s socked with another bowl ban but is fully braced for the potential of scholarship reductions in football and basketball.
It’s widely believed UM would accept modest scholarship reductions but probably would appeal a bowl ban. But UM president Donna Shalala hasn’t discussed that strategy with her people, so that’s not definite.
### UPDATE: Here is what Sports Illustrated posted on their web site in advance of the release of its full article on UM and the NCAA later today. It talks about the NCAA's mishandling of the Miami case and Shapiro's gambling allegations:
“People are questioning the need and effectiveness of an enforcement staff in general,” says former NCAA enforcement rep Abigail Grantstein, “to the point that I wonder if the membership will say we don’t want it.” “The time is ripe to cheat,” adds an ex-enforcement staffer. “There’s no policing going on.”
Shapiro, whose initial allegations that he supplied improper benefits to more than 100 Miami football and basketball players between 2002 and ‘10 came to light and was mostly corroborated in an August 2011 Yahoo! Sports report, now claims that he used inside information from Hurricanes players, coaches and athletic department staffers to win bets on 23 Miami football games between 2003 and ’09. Shapiro supplied SI with financial statements and bank records from 2005 to ’08 that show dozens of five- and six-figure sums moving from Shapiro’s entities to Adam Meyer’s during the college football season. Meyer is the operator of a handicapping website AdamWins.com. Meyer’s lawyer, Joel Hirschhorn, told SI that Meyer would place bets for Shapiro when his client was in Las Vegas.
An example of Shapiro’s new claims: He told SI that several days before favored Miami lost 19-16 to N.C. State on Nov. 3, 2007, he learned from a coach that quarterback Kyle Wright would be benched due to a bad knee and ankle. Shapiro said he got his bet in before the benching became public, and the line moved from 13 points to 11. Records show that six days after the game, nine wires moved $1.18 million from one Shapiro business to another. Shapiro claims it was all money from the N.C. State game.
### Though UM previously sent a strongly-worded letter to the NCAA reiterating that it reserves the right to sue, several UM officials say Shalala is reluctant and will consider it only if UM is punished far beyond expectations.
### Though NCAA president Mark Emmert wants the case to be resolved sooner rather than later, UM has not been told whether the decision will be expedited and isn’t counting on that.
Sanctions typically are announced no sooner than six weeks after a hearing, and the North Carolina case took four months. Football coach Al Golden said he wants finality before camp opens in early August, but odds are against that.
### Shalala will lead UM’s contingent at the hearings, accompanied by legal counsel, senior UM officials and coaches Golden and Jim Larranaga -- neither of whom are accused of any violations. The former UM coaches who are there to defend themselves against charges – Clint Hurtt, Aubrey Hill, Frank Haith, Jorge Fernandez and Jake Morton – can sit in only during the hearings directly involving them.
Procedural issues will be heard Thursday; UM and at least four of the coaches again will ask for the case to be dismissed, which UM doesn’t expect to happen.
### All of the football allegations will be addressed in a marathon Friday session, and basketball charges will be dealt with Saturday. “If this were in a regular court, it would be thrown out,” one UM official said, requesting anonymity. “How [the enforcement staff] handled this was disgraceful.”
### UM announced Monday that it will not comment publicly to reporters before, during or after the hearings, which will be held in a downtown Indianapolis hotel.
### The allegations against UM are voluminous, but UM’s optimism that it won’t be pounded are rooted in a few factors. Here are five: 1) UM already has self-imposed two bowl bans and 10 player suspensions and believes that will greatly help its case. 2) UM privately is hopeful the enforcement committee will be receptive to its contention that convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro lacks credibility, a position strengthened when The Herald learned recently that he lied under oath in an unrelated matter.….
3) Twenty of the charges were uncorroborated by anyone besides Shapiro – including the biggest one (a $50,000 payment to Vince Wilfork). At least two others were corroborated only by his former girlfriend, who has a felony conviction on her record.
UM believes it has a decent chance of not being penalized for at least some of those and other charges, especially because “the enforcement staff acknowledged it discredited the testimony of former student athletes to accept the word of a convicted felon.”
4) UM hopes it can convince the eight people hearing the case to put far less weight (as in: little or none) on photos of Shapiro with athletes than the enforcement staff did, asserting they prove nothing.
5) An involved UM official believes there’s some sentiment on the infractions committee (which hears the case) to not simply shrug off the numerous examples of dubious conduct by the enforcement staff in investigating the case (using Shapiro’s lawyer to get depositions, writing a note on Shapiro’s behalf to his sentencing judge, etc.).
### One source on the UM/coaches side said he is concerned, however, that generally there isn’t enough arm’s length between the infractions committee and enforcement staff, and that they have socialized at times in the past, including going to baseball games.
### A quick synopsis of the charges, as the Associated Press has reported: The NCAA claims Shapiro provided $170,000 in impermissible benefits to athletes, recruits, coaches and others from 2002 to 2010, and more than half of that total ($90,000) was used to get Wilfork and Antrel Rolle to sign with his sports agency.
Forty-eight players received VIP access and beverage service from Shapiro at Miami nightclubs; 38 were entertained at Shapiro’s home; 18 received invites to bowling alley events and seven dined with Shapiro at Benihana.
### The NCAA did not include the salacious allegations in the Yahoo! story that Shapiro paid for prostitutes or an abortion for one player.
Among some of the more colorful accusations: Shapiro paid for Devin Hester’s $3000 engagement ring; purchased a $700 television (Shapiro said it was for Andrew Williams and Sam Shields); bought Heat tickets for Williams, Andrew Johnson and others; bought a used washer/dryer set for Wilfork; and directed his girlfriend to give no-show jobs for a couple months to Tavares Gooden and Bryan Pata, who was shot and killed in 2006.
### In response to the lack of institutional control charge, UM will tell the committee that it hired an investigator (Wayne Black) to check into Shapiro about a decade ago, and he found nothing; and also that no UM athletic department official had prior knowledge of his violations.
UM told the NCAA: “Charging the university with lack of institutional control, because two administrators who had no day-to-day athletic responsibilities or expertise in the area allegedly had knowledge of Shapiro’s sports company, is unreasonable and illogical.”
### The NCAA proposed scholarship reductions during settlement talks with UM in February, but before UM could make a counter offer, NCAA general counsel Donald Remy called UM and the ex-coaches and said talks were off, suggesting that the enforcement committee didn’t support it. UM also was led to believe Emmert didn’t have support from the two boards that he reports to.
### The NCAA’s shoddy work extends to simple things, too, such as calling DeMarcus Van Dyke by the wrong name in the Notice of Allegations (Marcus) and referring to Reggie Johnson “Reggie Mitchell” in emails to UM.
UM baseball player/quarterback David Thompson will undergo arthroscopic surgery for the second time on his right (non-throwing) shoulder on Wednesday. And though his father Ed said David hasn’t decided whether to play only baseball, he said: “This doesn’t bode well for football. There is a point where you have to become realistic. He knows how far behind he is in football.
“It’s a discouraging setback. We’ll know more after the surgery. We’re hoping it’s a 6-to-8 week recovery.” Thompson had surgery on the shoulder last June but has had occasional pain in recent months.
### The Dolphins remain open to upgrading over Jorvorskie Lane at fullback, and two moves Tuesday provided more indication of that. First, Miami booked a Wednesday visit with three-time Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach, who was cut by the Ravens this week.
Miami also claimed fullback Evan Rodriguez off waivers from Chicago Tuesday. Rodriguez angered the Bears with two offseason arrests: one on Miami in March for disorderly intoxication (charges dropped) and May for 2012 and speeding. A fourth-round pick from Temple in 2012, he played in 12 games for Chicago last year and caught four passes for 21 yards.
### No mystery around the Dolphins’ running back job: Lamar Miller said he has been with the first team all offseason, with Daniel Thomas running No. 2.