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NCAA announces problems with Miami investigation

NCAA announces problems with Miami investigation

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.

Emmert said the NCAA was trying to find out why part of the investigation was based on depositions specific to the bankruptcy case against Shapiro, who will have to repay $82.7 million to his victims as part of his sentence. And the timing of this also is curious. Several people who were to be named in the NCAA's notice of allegations against Miami have been told that the document was in the final stages of preparation - and one person who spoke with the AP said at least one person who was to face a charge of wrongdoing was told the letter was scheduled for delivery to Miami on Tuesday.

Now it's anyone's guess when that will happen.

Emmert said the NCAA learned of the alleged misconduct, in part, through legal bills presented by Shapiro's attorney for work that was not properly approved by the organization's general counsel's office.

``One of the questions that has to be answered, unequivocally, is what was the nature of that contractual arrangement and what was all the activity that that individual was involved with,'' Emmert said. ``There is some uncertainty about all of that and it's one of the first orders of business for the firm that we've hired to investigate.''

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, who is serving a 20-year term in federal prison for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

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.

``In my two-and-a-half years I've certainly never seen anything like this, and don't want to see it again,'' Emmert said.

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'It's like losing a brother': The human aspect of the NHL trade deadline

'It's like losing a brother': The human aspect of the NHL trade deadline

The NHL trade deadline is always a fun time for fans. It's a time for buyers to bring in the final key pieces of a Stanley Cup roster or maybe those one or two players needed to complete a run to the playoffs. For sellers, it is time to move players away and begin looking towards the future. It's a time when everyone with any interest in hockey pours over rosters, cap hits and stats trying to determine who could fit where like pieces on a chessboard.

The feeling is much different for the players.

"It's difficult," Nick Jensen said of the trade deadline. "It's a whirlwind. Everything's going on, you're kind of comfortable at the place you're at, you have a place where you played for a while and your family's there and all of a sudden, for me, I got traded and that night I was gone and I never really looked back."

To the players, the trade deadline is not just about shuffling names from roster to roster, this is real life. A player's life can change with one phone call and the news that he now has to pack his bags for a new city and get there in a matter of days, sometimes hours.

The uncertainty of the trade deadline affects every player of every team. Obviously there are those like Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom who know they are not going to be traded, but that doesn't mean friends can't be traded for or away. Whether your team is in a rebuild or a Cup contender, there's a chance the roster could look very different by 3 p.m. on Monday for any team in the NHL.

"It can be a little distracting at times for the whole team in general if you're a team that you think was going to be making some moves, but it can also especially be distracting if you're a guy that's being talked about being traded," said Jensen who was traded to the Caps in 2019 as a deadline move.

Some players find themselves to be the unwilling trade chips of a deal as general managers try to tweak their rosters. The news of a trade, however, can sometimes be a welcome relief. That certainly has been the case for most deadline pickups for Washington in recent years.

From a competitive standpoint, typically the Caps have sought reinforcements from teams that know they will not be headed to the playoffs. Players come to Washington with the hope of competing for a Stanley Cup or perhaps of being able to find a better fit and a bigger role than the one they are leaving.

"I was in really bad situation [in Chicago]," said Michal Kempny, who was a trade deadline pickup for the Caps in 2018. "Every change was good for me. I just kind of waited what's going to happen and I got traded here."

"To come here and have some big-time meaningful games coming up, and be right in the thick of the race, it's a lot of fun," the newly acquired Brenden Dillon said.

But that's on the ice. The off-ice implications are a bit more complicated.

Off the ice, players have to think about their homes, their wives or girlfriends and their kids. Off the ice, players are faced with the realities of a world that is not built around the schedule of a professional athlete.

"My wife had just finally started living with me because she was in grad school before that so it was like oh finally we get to live together," Jensen said, "And then we lived together for like five months then I get traded and like oh here we go again. Dealing with when you get traded the stuff outside of hockey can be tough like that."

Initially, players do not have to worry about much in terms of housing. They are put up in a hotel and can adjust to their new surroundings. Then they are left to trying to adjust to their new team.

"It's kind of different.," Kempny said. "New city, new organization, new teammates. It's part of our job and those things happening every year to a lot of guys."

Adjusting to a new team can be especially difficult when it is one as tight as the Caps.

While players are certainly excited to join the organization, there also comes with it a level of intimidation of walking into the locker room.

"It feels like a tight-knit family in here, and there's a reason that they've had so much success not just this year but in years past," Dillon said. "I'm just trying to be a piece to the puzzle, come in and do what I can."

"I'm coming into a team where I got traded for a guy that was here that a lot of the guys were pretty fond of so that's kind of in the back of your mind too," Jensen said. "I know the guys really liked [Madison Bowey.] I heard he was a really great guy so I know losing guys at trades can be tough in that sense because you could grow as a family here and it's like losing a brother. Going in and trying to replace that can be tough too."

Adjusting to a new team, adjusting to a new system, adjusting to a new city and doing it while also trying to figure out where you're going to live and if and when your family may move with you is a lot for anyone to handle. The trade deadline comes with the added pressure of having to adjust quickly. A player who is traded in December still has over half the season left to play. It comes with all the same challenges, but there is more time for a player to get his game in order.

At the trade deadline, however, it's crunch time. There is only about a quarter of the season left to play and suddenly all the off-ice things that most people would refer to as "life" become a distraction from the task at hand, something in which the players have to shut out.

"The approach I always took is I always try to control the things that I could control and getting traded is out of my control," Jensen said. "I just focus on each game and take the same approach that you always take whether you're being traded or not being traded. If you focus on the stuff outside of your game, it's just a distraction, it's a waste of energy and it kind of puts a toll on you a little bit.

"It's not easy. It's not easy shutting things out like that, but that's kind of the approach you've got to take."

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Wizards vs. Bucks: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Wizards vs. Bucks: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Wizards head back to the nation's capital Monday night for a matchup with Giannis Antetokoumpo and the Milwaukee Bucks at Capital One Arena.

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with an astounding 53 points in the team's loss Sunday night to the Chicago Bulls. Beal passed Jeff Malone on the team's all-time scoring list for second place. He now only trails Elvin Hayes.

The Bucks are coming off a dominant 21-point win over the 76ers on Friday night and look to continue their stellar play in D.C. against the struggling Wizards.

Here is everything you need to know.

WIZARDS vs. BUCKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.

When: Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Bucks will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Bucks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the MyTeams App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. BULLS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders

6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Wizards vs. Bucks

9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live

10:00 PM: Wizards Talk

WIZARDS vs. BUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, Wizards (29.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 6.0 APG): Beal will look to carry the Wizards to victory against the Bucks after the team was unable to defeat the Bulls on Sunday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks (30.0 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 5.8 APG): The Greek freak is on a fast-track to another MVP trophy and has the Bucks in a prime position to come out of the Eastern Conference.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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