Friday, April 20, 2018
Colleges

NCAA's investigation of Miami Hurricanes finds problems — with NCAA

CORAL GABLES — After nearly two years, the NCAA has announced some of the wrongdoing discovered during its investigation of Miami's athletic compliance practices.

The alleged rule-breakers: former NCAA employees.

The NCAA, facing increasingly fierce scrutiny regarding its role as the administrator of college athletics, said Wednesday that its enforcement staff improperly obtained information in its high-profile investigation involving Miami. NCAA president Mark Emmert said the UM investigation is on hold after the NCAA discovered "a very severe issue of improper conduct" — specifically that its investigators contracted with a criminal defense lawyer for the booster at the center of the Miami case to obtain information they should not have been able to access. The NCAA had been examining allegations that the booster, Nevin Shapiro, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, as well as other benefits, to dozens of Miami athletes.

The NCAA does not have subpoena power. At least one of the people deposed by attorney Maria Elena Perez, who couldn't be reached Wednesday, as part of Shapiro's bankruptcy case appeared under subpoena, and his testimony would not have been otherwise available to NCAA investigators. The investigators who were involved are no longer with the NCAA, Emmert said, adding: "How in the world can you get this far without it being recognized that this was an inappropriate way to proceed?"

Emmert called the conduct of the investigators "shocking" and "stunning," saying the NCAA could not tolerate such "grossly inappropriate" behavior.

Miami already has self-imposed the suspensions of eight involved football players, withdrawn from two bowl games and an ACC title game, and voluntarily reduced scholarships.

Notice of allegations — the charges that Miami will have to defend itself against during the sanctioning phase of the probe — are now on hold until an outside review of the NCAA's procedures in this case are completed.

The question isn't whether it's good news toward a softening of Miami's impending judgment from the NCAA. It's how good the news is.

Emmert said any talk of throwing out all charges is "premature." He said only a "small portion" of the investigation was affected. But does a tainted portion call into question other evidence?

"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," UM president Donna Shalala said.

Emmert said the NCAA was trying to find out why part of the investigation was based on depositions specific to the bankruptcy case. One of those depositions was given Dec. 19, 2011 by former UM equipment-room staffer Sean Allen, who has been linked to Shapiro and many of the allegations he made against the university.

During that deposition, the phrase "University of Miami" was uttered at least 58 times in questions or answers. UM was not part of the Ponzi scheme that led to Shapiro's legal downfall.

Kenneth L. Wainstein of the firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP was hired to conduct the external review of what happened. That review will begin today, with the NCAA hoping it will finish within two weeks.

The admission comes at a challenging time for the NCAA. This month, Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania sued the organization over its handling of the Penn State child sexual abuse case, saying that it was "overreaching and unlawful" in how it punished the university and that it violated antitrust laws. The NCAA has also been criticized for recent cases involving UCLA, USC and North Carolina.

"Isn't NCAA making head coaches responsible for assistants' actions?" ESPN college analyst Jay Bilas tweeted. "Uh, Mr. Emmert, about this happening on your watch … "

Comments
Report: Florida Gators’ Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Report: Florida Gators’ Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Florida Gators defensive lineman Cece Jefferson will be out four months after having surgery on his right shoulder earlier this week, according to a report Wednesday evening from the Gainesville Sun.Jefferson, a 6-foot-1, 242-pound senior, injured th...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Tuesday evening's news that quarterback Jake Allen plans to transfer from the Florida Gators isn't a surprise.Allen, a former three-star recruit in 2017, was fourth on the depth chart. The St. Thomas Aquinas product didn't seem to fit new coach ...
Published: 04/18/18
Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

When former Wharton High star Auden Tate hears his name called sometime next week, he'll join a surprisingly small group.Recent Florida State receivers drafted into the NFL.Over the past decade, only two Seminoles receivers have been drafted: Rashad ...
Published: 04/18/18
Police suspected FSU’s Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Police suspected FSU’s Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Tallahassee police suspected Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois possessed marijuana with the intent to sell it when they executed a search warrant on his home last week, according to an affidavit.The case — which culminated Thursda...
Published: 04/17/18
Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Even as Florida State was finishing its first recruiting class under Willie Taggart, the Seminoles were already talking about what they could do in the new staff's first full cycle, for 2019."I can only imagine having a year here to be able to recrui...
Published: 04/17/18
Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

TALLAHASSEE – Florida State running back Khalan Laborn's breakout 140-yard output in Saturday night's spring game was a sign of what could be for the former blue-chip recruit.It was also a reminder of what almost wasn't for the Seminoles.With a...
Published: 04/16/18
New Orlando football team will welcome Steve Spurrier on Tuesday night

New Orlando football team will welcome Steve Spurrier on Tuesday night

Steve Spurrier will make one of his first appearances in his new role with the Alliance of American Football tomorrow in Orlando.The league will welcome Spurrier as the coach of its Orlando team at an event at Ember (42 W Central Blvd.) at an event f...
Published: 04/16/18
Five takeaways from Florida State’s spring football game

Five takeaways from Florida State’s spring football game

TALLAHASSEE – Judging by the crowd for Florida State's spring game on Saturday, Seminoles fans are excited about the dawn of the Willie Taggart era.The official attendance of 53,974 — a new record for a spring game — inclu...
Published: 04/14/18
Five takeaways from the Florida Gators’ spring game

Five takeaways from the Florida Gators’ spring game

GAINESVILLE —It took some time, but the offense scored points in bunches, much to the delight of the 53,015 in attendance at Florida's spring game.And the Gators had fun doing it, pulling out all the stops with gadgets and celebrations that bro...
Published: 04/14/18
FSU quarterback Deondre Francois faces marijuana complaint

FSU quarterback Deondre Francois faces marijuana complaint

Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois agreed to a pre-arrest diversion program after police found 17 grams of a cannabis/tobacco blend in his bedroom Thursday afternoon.The Tallahassee Police Department previously received a report of drug activ...
Published: 04/13/18