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5 posts from February 19, 2013

February 19, 2013

CANES HOOPS ROLLS ON: Miami Holds Off Virginia 54-50

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Winning ugly has been working for the Miami Hurricanes lately. So why change things?

For the third straight time since running North Carolina out of Coral Gables, the Hurricanes had a fight on their hands -- and held on.

Miami, ranked second in the nation behind Indiana, got a big bucket from center Reggie Johnson with 5.7 seconds left to beat Virginia 54-50 at BankUnited Center in Coral Gables Tuesday night.

"Our last three games have been a good indication as how good the ACC is,'' coach Jim Larranaga said. "The teams in our league have so much physical talent ... We knew we would have to execute very well in the final seconds.''

Virginia tied the score at 50 with 14.3 seconds remaining when Evan Nolte hit a 3-pointer.

Yet with time closing down, guard Shane Larkin -- who scored four points in the final minute -- worked the ball around and found Johnson all along under the basket. Johnson scored and Miami stole the ball on the inbound.

"We just basically ran the same play as we did against N.C. State,'' said Johnson, whose last second tip-in beat the Wolfpack on Feb. 2. "Every time we play Virginia it's a battle."

Miami's Durand Scott gave the Hurricanes -- now 22-3 and 13-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference -- their final cushion by dropping a pair of free throws with 4.1 left.

Earlier in the evening, Indiana beat No. 4 Michigan State -- which UM topped here on Nov. 28.

"Our focus is on us,'' Larkin said when asked about Indiana. "Every thing will settle itself. If we stick to what we do, we'll be happy.''

The Hurricanes have won 14 straight and hasn't lost since losing in a consolation game to Indiana State in Hawaii on Christmas night.

Early Tuesday game, the Canes looked more like the high-flying team that drubbed Duke and North Carolina by average of 26.5 points and less like the UM squad that had to fight to escape Tallahassee and almost lost at Clemson on Sunday night.

Miami was red-hot from the onset in front of another raucous, capacity crowd of 7,972 at the on-campus arena. The Hurricanes opened by scoring on consecutive shots in the first minute and hit their first five from the field.

Like the Seminoles and Tigers before them, the Cavaliers (18-8, 8-5) refused to go away.

Virginia trailed 16-9 but kept chipping away as Miami struggled to score for long stretches in the opening half.

The Cavaliers cut Miami's lead to 2 by halftime and took their first lead of the night with 13:06 remaining when Evan Nolte hit one of two from the stripe.

Miami quickly retook the lead when Rion Brown was fouled while jacking up a 3-pointer. The junior knocked down all three free throws to make it 31-29 with 12:45 left. Miami then made a big defensive stop and fed it inside to Johnson who was fouled while scoring.

The Hurricanes' big man missed the free throw but pulled down a defensive board on Virginia's next trip up the floor.

Moments later, Brown sank Miami's first 3-pointer of the night to give the Hurricanes a seven-point lead -- their biggest since early on.

Virginia, again, wasn't finished as it closed to within a point at 44-43 with 3:33 remaining.

The Canes shooting went cold but a runner from Brown with 3:05 left gave Miami a three-point lead it held heading into the game's final minute.

Virginia's Joe Harris scored to tie it at 46.

With 42.2 seconds left, Larkin's lay-up gave Miami the advantage at 48-46. With 32.8 seconds left, Harris was fouled while missing a layup and hit the front end of his free throws.

Larkin pulled down the rebound on the second and was fouled; with 28.4 seconds left, Larkin calmly hit both to give Miami a three-point lead.

The Hurricanes go for their 14th win in conference play Saturday at Wake Forest.

"It's always important to build and it's easier to build on victories than losses,'' Larranaga said of the close calls.

"You can learn a lot from losses because it shows your limitations and weaknesses. But it's much better -- the guys feel better, their self-esteem grows -- after a victory. This last week has been a really great experience.''

"These guys have been through an awful lot,'' Larranaga said. "They're hungry. They've earned this. None of these wins have been given to them.''

Miami plays two of the ACC's lower teams in the Demon Deacons (4-9 in the ACC) and then play host to last place Virginia Tech on Feb. 27. The Hurricanes then visit Duke for the much-anticipated rematch against the Blue Devils.

The Hurricanes won at Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time last season.

Shalala releases statement on NOA


“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.”

AP reports UM receives notice of allegations from NCAA

A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press the NCAA has delivered the long-awaited notice of allegations to the University of Miami, a move that essentially wraps up the findings of a two-year investigation into the school's athletic department.

The AP released the news at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Details of the NOA are not expected to be released by UM. The school is not obligated to release the information because it is a private school.

Next up: The sanctions phase, where UM's penalties will be decided. The Hurricanes have already self-imposed several sanctions, including sitting out two bowl games and a conference football championship game.

UM President Donna Shalala said Monday she believes those punishments should be enough.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said Monday the case would go through to the Committee on Infractions, who will decide whether those sanctions would be enough.

The NCAA reviewed and threw out 20 percent of its investigation into UM that was bungled by enforcement officials, who paid Nevin Shapiro's lawyer for help. 

UM adds highly-touted Texas WR/TE Derrick Griffin to 2013 signing class

Just when you thought the Canes had wrapped up the 2013 Signing Class, Brennan Carroll's bat signal on Twitter went off again Tuesday evening.

Derrick Griffin, a 6-6, 210-pound receiver from B.F. Terry High School in Rosenberg, Texas who also is a budding basketball star, faxed a signed a National Letter of Intent to Coral Gables Tuesday afternoon, UM's sports information staff confirmed.

Griffin, listed as a four-star receiver by 247Sports and the third-best receiver in the country overall by Rivals.com, becomes the third player to sign with UM after National Signing Day. The 2013 signing class is now up to 19 players total.

His signing comes as a bit of a surprise since he hadn't even officially visited UM yet and had long been a commitment to Texas A&M and was also talking to Auburn. InsideTheU.com reported Griffin will take his official visit to UM this weekend.

"I had a [basketball] tournament down there for AAU and I liked the surroundings," Griffin told 247Sports.com. "I just really liked the area and what they are about as a program. They have sent a lot of top players to the NFL.

"The Miami coaches were really excited when I told them I wanted to commit. They were all yelling and telling me they were happy to have me as a part of their family now. That made me smile."

Griffin finished his senior season with 592 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on 36 receptions. He has been clocked at a 4.5 in the 40. He also becomes the second wide receiver in UM's 2013 class, joining Broward's top player, Northeast High star Stacy Coley.

Griffin could also end up playing basketball at Miami. Listed as the 26th-best small forward in the country by ESPN, Griffin is reportedly averaging 25 points a game for his high school team.

"This year Miami's basketball team is looking really good," Griffin told InsideTheU.com. "They are No. 2 in the country and they have a real chance to win a National Championship. I want to try and play college basketball too, so that is a big reason why I like them too."

A timeline of the NCAA's inquiry into UM, Shapiro, his lawyer and the conduct of the enforcement staff

In case you didn't have the time to read all 52 pages of the external review committee's findings into the conduct of the NCAA enforcement committee on Monday, here's a timeline of facts and events as it pertains to the UM investigation.

It might provide a clearer picture for you of who, what, when, where and even why as we move forward in all this. 


> August 2010: Former booster Nevin Shapiro tells our Barry Jackson he's prepared to write a tell-all book that will bring the University of Miami football program down. 

> February 2011: Shapiro sends email to Rich Johanningmeier, Associate Director of Enforcement at the NCAA. Shapiro makes allegations that over nearly a 10-year period he colluded with student-athletes and coaches to provide improper benefits. The NCAA buys Shapiro a disposable cell phone and expends roughly $8,200 to fund communications with Shapiro. At one point they transfer $4,500 to his prison to pay for the communication expenses.

> April 2011: Johanningmeier makes contact for the first time with Shapiro's attorney, Maria Elena Perez, after Shapiro requests she be informed of his cooperation with the NCAA investigation.

> April 21, 2011: NCAA asks for copies of Shapiro's FBI 302 reports. A week later, Perez tells the NCAA she is not able to provide copies of the FBI 302 reports but offers to "extract the information regarding any reported NCAA violations or the like." In a email later, Perez tells the enforcement staff she can prepare summaries of Shapiro's 302 reports at a rate of $575 per hour and provide a retainer for the agreement.

> May 2011: After speaking to Shapiro for months, NCAA enforcement staff members Ameen Najjar, who heads the NCAA's investigation, and Johanningmeier meet with Shapiro in jail twice. Najjar visits alone a third time. In one visit, Shapiro provides the enforcement staff with four boxes of documents related to his allegations.

> Aug. 2011: The enforcement staff briefs NCAA President Mark Emmert for the first time in the investigation. Shortly thereafter, Johanningmeier and Najjar meet with UM President Donna Shalala to present her with a notice of inquiry.

> Aug. 15, 2011: UM equipment manager Sean Allen is interviewed for the first time. He later tells The Miami Herald and other publications he lied through his teeth in the initial interview.

> Aug. 16, 2011: Yahoo! publishes its expose of Shapiro's allegations. A day later, UM coach Al Golden said he was blind-sided by the story and had no idea when he was hired UM was facing an investigation.

> Aug. 25, 2011: UM declares 13 football players ineligible and eight serve suspensions.

> Sept. 28, 2011: Perez proposes the idea of leveraging the subpoena process in Mr. Shapiro's ongoing bankruptcy proceedings to compel certain witnesses to provide the testimony they were seeking. Perez tells Najjar that Shapiro wants to help because it helped the Bankruptcy Trustee and because it would help Shapiro "get revenge on the University of Miami and its student-athletes who had turned their back on him."

Despite the advice of the NCAA's legal staff not to retain Ms. Perez, the enforcement staff proceeds with Perez's idea. The notes from the NCAA investigation case strategy meeting suggest the Bankruptcy Trustee did not intend to depose Shapiro's former bodyguard Mario Sanchez, Allen (UM's equipment manager) or Michael Huyghue, Shapiro's business partner at Axcess Sports Agency. That evening Najjar reports the idea to Julie Roe Lach, the Vice President of Enforcement, and Tom Hosty, the managing director of enforcement.

Lach later tells the outside counsel hired by the NCAA she could not recall Najjar's email had not heard of Shapiro's lawyer before that date. Hosty said he did not know about the UM case until August 2011, but he had been briefed on interviews with Mr. Shapiro and knew of Ms. Perez prior to receiving the September 28, 2011.

> Oct. 4, 2011: Perez provides the NCAA with a written proposal to conduct depositions of nine individuals including Huyghue, Allen and Sanchez and her "expenses and legal fees" are estimated to be at $20,000.

> Oct. 10, 2011: UM's counsel of Judd Goldberg and Michael Glazier knew of Perez's proposal before it is presented to the NCAA supervisors for approval. In a conference call with Najjar and Johanningmeier they raise three concerns: 1. That Perez would leak information because she was not bound by the NCAA's confidentiality policy; 2. Perez was not trustworthy; 3. Perez was not listed as an attorney in Shapiro's bankruptcy and did not have the authority to issue the bankruptcy subpoenas.

In another email, Najjar tells Perez the NCAA only wants to depose Sanchez, Allen, Huyghue and only two other individuals of the nine mentioned in her proposal. Another person not named by Perez, but named by the NCAA is basketball booster David Leshner.

Najjar then sends an email to Lach and Hosty about hiring Perez to conduct depositions of the six individuals he previously listed and informs them it could cost roughly $20,000 for the work. Najjar tells the outside counsel later he sought approval simply for the expenditure and to get the guidance whether the arrangement was permissible under NCAA bylaws.

Hosty replies to Najjar's email that same day saying: "Most intriguing. I don't know what we can afford from costs, but this could be a creative solution for bigger breakthroughs on evidence."

Lach emails Isch to green-light the funding. She then emails Hosty to clear the proposal with Naima Stevenson, a member of the NCAA's legal staff.

> Oct. 13, 2011: Hosty forward's Najjar's email to Stevenson asking her if she saw any legal issues. She promptly reviewed the email and said it raised two concerns: 1. Only the legal staff could hire outside counsel and 2. She saw the arrangement as an effort to circumvent the limits on the NCAA's authority to compel cooperation from third parties. She emailed Najjar and Hosty to touch base so she could receive additional information regarding the proposal.

> Oct. 21, 2011: After consulting with her boss, Donald Remy, Stevenson sends an email to Najjar advising him not to use Perez in the proposed manner and offered several explanations for why she and the legal staff believed it was inappropriate.

She warns Najjar using a criminal attorney to conduct depositions would be inappropriate. "Any information obtained through such a manner for use in the NCAA process would be subject to significant scrutiny to the extent any decisions were based on that information if those decisions were to be subsequently challenged," she wrote. Lach, Hosty and Najjar explained the advice "created a significant impediment to our investigation" and asked for a meeting.

> Oct. 25, 2011: After exchanging emails, Najjar and Stevenson agree to meet to discuss the Perez proposal. Stevenson, Remy and Najjar attended the meeting. Lach participated via phone. Remy spoke during the meeting and reiterated Stevenson's message, saying they could not retain legal counsel to represent the interests of the NCAA, but could attend any public depositions or copy transcripts thereof. They also cited concern Perez's proposal could be an inappropriate circumvention of the NCAA's investigative limits. Lach later couldn't recall the meeting and said she was out of the office that day sick. But Stevenson said Lach did "appear to accept" the legal opinion.

A review of Lach's cell phone records show she received a call from the NCAA and was on the phone during that meeting for 11 minutes. Najjar later said he had no recollection of that meeting, but did recall the email of rejection.

Minutes after that meeting, Najjar sends Perez a text message saying he ran into a legal problem retaining her but "there's a way around it.

> Oct. 27, 2011: Najjar has Perez send him her tax information so she can receive payment. Less than a month later he texts her to assure her "everything was approved." Lach later says it was her understanding from emails through Najjar that her and Hosty were told the legal staff had approved the circumstances under which Perez had been retained.

> November 19, 2011: UM self imposes a bowl ban and then announces it will extend the contract of coach Al Golden through the 2019 season.

> Dec. 7, 2011: Perez provides Najjar a list of seven individuals she is prepared to depose.

> Dec. 13, 2011: Perez contacts Najjar to inform him Allen's deposition had been set for Dec. 19, 2011 and Huyghue's deposition was scheduled for Dec. 28, 2011. She also noted a deposition for Leshner on Dec. 27, 2011 and was in the process of trying to serve a fourth witness, Mario Sanchez.

Najjar and Perez also discuss the preparation of questions for the depositions. She tells Najjar that if he is unable to attend he should send questions. Although, she noted, "I believe Mr. Shapiro has all the questions covered."

> Dec. 18, 2011: Najjar provides Perez with a list of 34 areas they would like for her to "explore" with Allen. It was focused on identifying student-athletes who may have received prohibited entertainment and gifts from Shapiro. Najjar's list of areas to explore included questions such as "When Allen was employed/associated with Axcess Sports, which UM players did he recruit for Axcess and what monetary benefits did he provide or was aware were provided for them?"

UM's counsel of Goldberg and Glazier later say Najjar was reluctant to disclose information about the depositions and noted that Najjar never mentioned to them that Allen's deposition had taken place.

> Dec. 2011 to July 2012: Perez sends four invoices to the NCAA (Dec. 20, 2011; Jan. 3, 2012; Jan. 10, 2012; July 13, 2012) requesting reimbursement for court reporter fees, copying costs and conference room rental for a total of $8,467.

> May 2012: Johanningmeier retires from the NCAA. Najjar is fired. Stephanie Hannah takes over the investigation.

> July 20, 2012: Yahoo! reports links Golden to using Allen to help him recruit local players.

> Aug. 2, 2012: Perez sends nine invoices requesting payment of billatable time spent on the NCAA's investigation from Oct. 11, 2011 to July 31, 2012 at an hourly rate of $350. She requests a total payment of $57,115.

> Aug. 29, 2012: Hannah forwards Perez's email to Lach who says the NCAA agreed to pay far less, roughly $15,000.

> Sept. 18, 2012: The NCAA pays Perez for six invoices of her work, totaling $10,500.

> Sept. 28, 2012: Hannah reviews Pere'z invoices with Stevenson for the propriety of certain charges. Stevenson is surprised to learn that Najjar had retained Perez after she and Remy had told him not to. Stevenson meets with Lach and they agree to discontinue all work with Perez in the bankruptcy proceedings.

> Fall 2012: The Enforcement and Legal staff undertake a series of measures to review what happened and agree to pay Perez a final amount of $18,000. To ensure that the parties at risk of the investigation suffer no prejudice from the use of the NCAA's bankruptcy proceedings, the NCAA's Enforcement and Legal staffs decide to remove any information directly or indirectly derived from the work of Perez.

> Oct. 2012: The Legal Staff, in consultation with the NCAA President and Chief Operating Officer agree to remove evidence derived directly or indirectly from the Perez depositions. Remy explains the decision to exclude information was not based on a particular NCAA administrative Bylaw or policy, but instead inspired by the criminal law concept of excluding illegally obtained evidence and its "tainted fruits" to ensure that investigative targets are not prejudiced by any improper investigative techniques.

The staff determines any statements made by Allen in his voluntary interviews with the NCAA, both those that occurred before and after his sworn deposition, would be excluded as well the 13 subsequent interviews of others. They also determine portions of 12 additional interviews conducted after Allen's deposition would be excluded.

> Late November 2012: UM self imposes another bowl ban and announces it will also skip the ACC championship game in football.

> Jan. 11, 2013: The enforcement staff notifies UM and the subject parties of its conduct involving Perez and its decision to exclude any evidence directly or indirectly derived from them.

> Jan. 22, 2013: NCAA retains Cadwalader to conduct an outside investigation of its NCAA enforcement staff and its conduct with Perez.

> Jan. 23, 2013: The NCAA holds a press conference and issues a press release describing the enforcement staff's missteps in conjunction with Perez.

> Feb 18, 2013: Cadwalaer attorneys release their 52-page finding to the public. Lach is fired from the NCAA.

Based upon the review of over 75 interview transcripts and voluminous other records (including bank accounts, receipts, photographs and other records) it is the opinion of Cadwalaer the NCAA's investigative record on UM is not based on evidence that was improperly derived directly or indirectly from the depositions done by Perez. The outside hired counsel estimates 20 percent of the case against UM has been tossed out.

Emmert says the NCAA will continue with its case against Miami and there will be no settlement. He says the Committee on Infractions will have to determine the validity of the case.

UM President Donna Shalala releases a statement firing back at the NCAA, showing signs for the first time in the 22-month investigation the school may actually be digging in its heels for a fight and taking legal action. Shalala says in her statement she wants a quick resolution to the matter.