NCAA

Shapiro's attorney insists she did nothing wrong

Shapiro's attorney insists she did nothing wrong

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) Nevin Shapiro's attorney said Thursday that she did nothing wrong during the former Miami booster's bankruptcy proceedings, instead insisting that the NCAA's problems during an investigation of the Hurricanes' athletic department were self-inflicted.

Further, the attorney, Maria Elena Perez, said she's one of the victims of the NCAA's mistakes.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Perez said that the NCAA had representation present during two depositions in the bankruptcy case of her client, who is currently serving a 20-year prison term for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme. The NCAA said Wednesday that it has ordered an outside review of the Miami investigation after finding ``a very severe issue of improper conduct'' by former investigators working the Miami case.

``The NCAA continues to sit in the (depositions) that are relevant to them,'' Perez said in a telephone interview. ``There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I'm not an employee of the NCAA. I'm not bound by NCAA rules. What I did was exercised in due diligence for my client, Nevin Shapiro.''

It has been two wild days for Miami athletics, starting Wednesday afternoon with the NCAA's announcement that the Miami investigation would be reviewed, followed Wednesday night by the 25th-ranked Hurricanes' stunning 90-63 win over No. 1 Duke, and then the hiring on Thursday of James Coley to be the new football offensive coordinator - luring him away from Florida State, no less.

So it's business as usual at Miami. With the investigation, that's not at all the case.

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.

And one of the things the NCAA wants to know is exactly what the nature of the agreement between Perez and former investigators was.

``I cannot discuss at this juncture my relationship with the NCAA,'' said Perez, who added that she has retained her own counsel and plans to release her side of the story in the coming days.

Meanwhile, NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement Thursday lashing out at reports that the NCAA General Counsel's office approved what he called ``the inappropriate use of Nevin Shapiro's attorney to obtain depositions in the Miami case.''

``These reports are not true,'' Emmert said. ``In fact, evidence shows the General Counsel's Office specifically told the enforcement staff - on at least two occasions prior to any arrangements being made with the attorney - that they could not use Shapiro's attorney for that purpose. As a result, the external investigation is solely focused on the behavior within and the environment of the enforcement program.''

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 to depose people she said were part of the bankruptcy proceeding. However, the deposition of one of those who appeared under subpoena, former Miami equipment-room staffer Sean Allen, showed a number of questions that were directly related to Shapiro's involvement with Hurricane athletics.

``The dubious party is not me. What I have done is 150 percent above board,'' Perez said.

The Hurricanes' athletic compliance practices have been probed by the NCAA for nearly two years. Allegations of wrongdoing involving Miami's football and men's basketball programs became widely known in August 2011 when Yahoo Sports published accusations brought by Shapiro.

Miami has self-imposed two football postseason bans in response to the investigation. The Hurricanes also would have played in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game this past season, meaning they could have qualified for the Orange Bowl.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford on Thursday lauded the way Miami has cooperated with the NCAA throughout the inquiry, which started about two years ago.

``Miami's cooperation throughout this process should be commended,'' Swofford said. ``They've been forthright and diligent in their efforts to fully cooperate with the NCAA. While it's unfortunate and extremely concerning that this has transpired, we respect the actions taken by President Emmert to launch an external review of the enforcement process.''

Perez said she was upset with the speculation that she colluded with the NCAA against Miami.

``I don't understand what all this madness is about,'' Perez said. ``This is much ado over nothing. ... Everyone is going to know exactly what happened. I have not done anything that is not above-board. In fact, I will take it a step further. I am a victim of their enforcement staff's misconduct. This is insane. This is ridiculous. This is outrageous.''

2018 Big South Tournament Bracket, How to watch, Dates, Preview, Location

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2018 Big South Tournament Bracket, How to watch, Dates, Preview, Location

The Big South conference had a surprising start to their league play this year with preseason favorites UNC-Asheville and Winthrop losing two of their first three games.  Since, things have settled down in the Big South with those two squads separating themselves from the pack late in the season.

This 2017-18 season, the Big South is a single bid conference but does have opportunities to get a couple of teams into the NIT. Depending on how this tournament plays out, there may be two or three teams in the second biggest tournament in the country.

READ MORE: NCAA TOURNAMENT BUBBLE WATCH

Like always the tournament will be hosted at multiple sites. The first round will be on campus-sites with the No.7 and No. 8 teams hosting their respective games. From there, the remaining teams will head to Asheville, NC for two rounds as the Bulldogs earned the No. 1 seed. The highest remaining team will then host the championship game.

Home-court advantage will clearly be a factor for which ever team hosts, but it has also been a theme of the Big South. Combined, the entire conference is 88-38 at their home court. Only Liberty has a winning record on the road at 5-4. The host of the quarterfinals and semifinals, UNC-Asheville, is 13-1 at Kimmel Arena. The lone loss being against Liberty.

Only one year in this format, Winthrop won the championship in 2016-17 as the hosts.

TOURNAMENT INFORMATION:

When is the Big South Tournament?

The Big South Tournament will be Tues. Feb 27, March 1-2, and the Big South championship is on March 4.

Where is the Big South Tournament?
The Big South tournament will primarily be hosted at Kimmel Arena in Asheville, North Carolina. The higher seeds will host the first round match-ups. The Big South Championship will also be at the highest seed’s home court.

How to watch the Big South Tournament?

The Big South Tournament will be televised as a part of ESPN’s family of networks, excluding the first round. The first round can be seen on the Big South Network, the quarterfinals and semifinals will be streamed on ESPN3, and ESPN will televise the Big South Championship.

Who is the defending Big South Champion?

The Winthrop Eagles won the 2016-17 Big South Championship after hosting the main portion of the tournament. It was the Eagles 11th Big South Championship in their history, the most ever in the Big South.

2018 BIG SOUTH TOURNAMENT BRACKET:

First Round – Tuesday, Feb. 27

No. 9 Presbyterian at No. 8 Charleston Southern 7:00 pm (Big South Network/ Roku)
No. 10 Longwood at No. 7 High Point                     7:00 pm (Big South Network/ Roku)

Quarterfinals - Thursday, March 1

7/10 Winner vs. No. 2 Radford                     1:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
No. 6 Gardner-Webb vs. No. 3 Winthrop   3:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
8/9 Winner at No. 1 UNC Asheville              7:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
No. 5 Liberty vs. No. 4 Campbell                  9:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)

Semifinals - Friday, March 2

TBD vs. TBD                          6:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
TBD vs. TBD                          8:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)

Big South Championship - Sunday, March 4

TBD vs. TBD                          1:00pm, higher seed host (ESPN)

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PREVIEW:

Even as the No. 3 seed and losers of their last two games, Winthrop is probably still the favorite heading into the tournament. Their offense is one of the highest scoring in all of college basketball (80.7 ppg), with Xavier Cooks scoring 17.6 ppg (3rd in Big South). However, the Eagles’ offense is not powered entirely behind three-point shooting, it is done with balance on both sides of the ball. They have the best two-point shooting percentage in the league (47.3 percent), lead the Big South in rebounding averages, blocks, and field goal defense. In addition, their guards’ three point shooting ability is pretty good too at 37.5 percent and making 9.5 deep balls a game.

However, when they go quiet from long range or another team matches their three-point shooting for a contest, they are susceptible. Also as defending champs, they have been here before and are motivated to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

As the Big South tournament hosts, UNC Asheville will have a leg up on the competition, but they have not been as dominant as a top seed should be. The Bulldogs are one of the most consistent teams in the conference with all five starters scoring in double figures each game. If one is betting, they are the safe bet to win it all based on what is mentioned above.

While Radford was a pleasant surprise throughout league play, do not anticipate that they will be a contender. They are eighth in scoring in the conference (68.2) and around the same mark when it comes to shooting. Their defense has bailed them out as probably one of the top defensive units in the league, but their leading scorer is a post player, Ed Polite Jr.  (13.6 ppg) and if shut down in the paint, there is no offense.

Liberty is the darkhorse in the Big South Tournament. The do boast the best defensive numbers in the conference (64.0 points against per game) and have a high-powered offense, although it is spotty.  Two players are shooting well above 40 percent or better from behind the arc. Dominating the boards, they limit other team’s second chance opportunities. Do not bet against the Flames in a one-on-one contest.

PICK: No. 3 Winthrop

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Another test

The Wizards continue their difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break against a very dangerous Sixers team. Philly has proven to be very streaky this season, but right now they are rolling. They come to Washington having won their last seven games dating back to Feb. 6 when they beat the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wizards are also playing well, having won eight of their last 11, despite their loss to the Hornets on Friday.

The Sixers are currently seventh in the East and appear on track to make the playoffs. If they keep rising the standings, they could meet the Wizards, who are currently fourth, in the first round. 

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Season series

Speaking of the playoffs, this game could end up looming large for postseason seeding. The Sixers have won two of the three matchups between these teams this year. If they win on Sunday, they will take the season series and own the tiebreaker over Washington.

If the two teams tie head-to-head and end up with the same record at the end of the season, it will then come down to conference record. The Sixers currently have a better record against East teams than the Wizards. But if they can beat Philly this time, the Wizards will have a chance to secure the conference tiebreaker down the stretch of this season.

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Sixers are tough to guard

The Wizards have found out the hard way this season just how difficult it can be to match up with the Sixers, who are led by two emerging stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is 7-foot-1 with rare abilities to stretch the floor and beat opponents off the dribble. Simmons is 6-foot-10, yet can lead the fastbreak with rare speed and vision to find his teammates with crisp passes.

The mobility for their size is almost unmatched and it has not been easy for the Wizards to answer. In their last meeting earlier this month, Simmons had 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Embiid had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Wizards have to try to limit those guys while also dealing with other challenges like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and J.J. Reddick.

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