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NCAA announces problems with Miami investigation
Thursday - 1/24/2013, 9:27am EST
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Sports Writer
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - The NCAA's probe of Miami's athletic compliance practices is ramping up again.
Only this time, the Hurricanes aren't exactly the subject of the inquiry.
In a bizarre twist, the college sports' governing body is being investigated after NCAA President Mark Emmert acknowledged on Wednesday "a very severe issue of improper conduct" by former investigators working the long, complex Miami case.
The NCAA said its investigation was based, at least in part, on information that it should not have had access to, the testimony of those who appeared under subpoena to be deposed in the bankruptcy case involving former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, one of the most notorious Ponzi scheme architects in history.
The NCAA does not have subpoena power. Shapiro's attorney did, and used it _ and apparently entered into some sort of contractual agreement with the NCAA, one that apparently either was not or should never have been approved.
"We cannot have the NCAA bringing forward an allegation ... that was collected by processes none of us could stand for," Emmert said. "We're going to move it as fast as possible, but we have to get this right."
Speaking Thursday from Providence, R.I. in a telephone interview, Shapiro's attorney, Maria Elena Perez, told The Associated Press that she has done nothing wrong.
"The dubious party is not me. What I have done is 150 percent above board," Perez said.
Perez said she could not divulge the nature of whatever her contract status with the NCAA, though said she is planning to release a statement in the coming days after meeting with her own attorney.
"I am a victim of the enforcement staff," said Perez, who is a Miami graduate. "Me."
The revelations Wednesday mean the notice of allegations against Miami _ the NCAA's findings of wrongdoing, a document that was nearly completed and was expected to be released by the end of this week _ will be delayed for at least a few more weeks, if not longer. The long-term ramifications could be more damning for the NCAA, especially if the outside investigator they have commissioned to look into the mess finds more problems.
"As we have done since the beginning, we will continue to work with the NCAA and now with their outside investigator hoping for a swift resolution of the investigation and our case," Miami President Donna Shalala said.
Emmert said two depositions are involved in this allegation of improper conduct by former enforcement-office staffers. One of those two depositions was given Dec. 19, 2011, by former Miami equipment-room staffer Sean Allen _ who has been linked to Shapiro and many of the allegations that he made against the university.
Among the questions Allen was asked in that deposition:
_ "Did you ever witness Mr. Shapiro paying any money to any University of Miami football or basketball players?"
_ "Would it be fair to say that Mr. Shapiro did, in fact, confer various financial benefits on the University of Miami Athletic Program and its players?"
_ "Did you ever overhear any of the coaches or any other staff for the University of Miami providing Mr. Shapiro with inside information regarding, you know, the condition of any particular athlete for the purposes of Mr. Shapiro's gambling?"
It's unknown which of Allen's answers caught the NCAA investigators' attention.
What is known publicly now, and has been suspected by some for months, is that those investigators never should have known those questions were asked.
"How in the world can you get this far without it being recognized that this was an inappropriate way to proceed?" Emmert asked.
That's the question that the NCAA wants answered, and fast.
Emmert spoke angrily at times during a half-hour conference call to discuss the findings, in which he revealed that he briefed the NCAA's executive committee and the Division I board presidents with some information about the Miami matter. He said he developed a better understanding of what went on in the days that followed, which led to the hiring of Kenneth L. Wainstein of the firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP to conduct the external review of what happened.
Wainstein, Emmert said, will begin his probe on Thursday, with the NCAA hoping that he can finish within two weeks.
"We want to make sure that any evidence that's brought forward is appropriately collected and it has the integrity that we expect and demand," Emmert said.
It was part of a stunning day for Hurricane athletics: The 25th-ranked men's basketball team routed No. 1 Duke later Wednesday, 90-63.