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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.''

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

The defensive performance on display by the Baltimore Ravens Sunday against the Tennessee Titans in a 21-0 shutout win was flat out historic. So historic that it's earned linebacker Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

A franchise-record 11 sacks were laid on quarterback Marcus Mariota during the Week 6 matchup, with Smith leading the way with three of them.   

So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. As someone who is in the final year of his rookie NFL contract, he's certainly proving he is worthy of getting paid this offseason. 

"It feels great, man. It's big," Smith said of the honor during media availability Wednesday. "I know when I first found out I called my mom and she was already looking at it. But I called her and she was trying to congratulate me and was like 'who would've ever thought the guy that played one year of high school football would be where he at now and making so many goals.'"

But earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week isn't the only goal Smith has in mind. His performance through the first six weeks and assisting the No. 1 ranked scoring defense is just a stepping stone to the ultimate honor.

"I was telling her, 'Ma you know this is a good self-goal but my main goal is to get us to the Super Bowl.'" 

The road to the Super Bowl for Smith and the Ravens continues this Sunday vs. Drew Brees and the Saints. 

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4 things to watch as the Caps host the Rangers

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USA Today

4 things to watch as the Caps host the Rangers

The Caps return to action Wednesday as they host the New York Rangers (7 p.m., NBCSN) in a Metropolitan Division clash.

Here are four things you should be watching for in this game.

The schedule finally gives the Caps a break

The early season schedule for Washington has been bizarre to say the least. Finally, they will be catching a break on Wednesday as the Rangers will be playing in the second leg of a back-to-back.

That certainly does not guarantee a victory, but it is something the Caps are very aware of and they hope to take advantage.

“I think speed is a big part of the game and for them to be fatigued off the back-to-back is definitely going to help us whether we move the puck a little quicker than we would in other games just kind of knowing they are coming off that back-to-back,” Nathan Walker said.

“We've got to make them skate, we've got to make their D go back for pucks,” T.J. Oshie said. “I don't feel like they're going to look tired at the start of the game, usually that comes towards the end of the game, second half, and so you've got to work to drain them down a little bit and we've got to take advantage of that opportunity tonight.”

Top-line Stephenson

Stephenson was added to the top line on Saturday with no practice other than the morning skate that day. A few days between games has given him a chance to practice with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov and it should pay dividends on Wednesday.

This game also should be a good opportunity for Stephenson who was added to the top for his speed. Playing a tired Rangers team is something he will need to take advantage of.

“It's always tough to play back-to-back and with the travel and stuff like that,” Stephenson said. “For the most part, I think that that's going to be important and just to play a full 60, that's something that we want to get consistent with and we haven't been so far … But for the most part, I think the start will really help us tonight.”

Nathan Walker returns

The Caps made a change to the lineup for Wednesday’s game as Nathan Walker will be in for Dmitrij Jaskin on the fourth line.

When asked why he made the change, Reirden said, “Just a different look. A team that's on a back-to-back, we wanted to really come at them with some speed, tenacity and intensity that we know we always get from Nathan so thought it was a good add into tonight's lineup.

The Caps have got to get more offense from their bottom six and adding the speedy Walker to the bottom six could provide a boost. He has had trouble playing within the system in the past and his play has been more frenzied than controlled at times, but with Tom Wilson still suspended, there’s definitely an opportunity for Walker to earn more playing time depending on how he plays Wednesday.

King Henry remains on his throne

In addition to a tired Rangers team, the Caps are also expected to face a tired goalie.

Henrik Lundqvist started New York’s game on Tuesday and is expected to start again on Wednesday against Washington. That is not confirmed as the Rangers did not have a morning skate because of the back-to-back, but it is believed Lundqvist will play again.

There was a time when Lundqvist was considered the best netminder in the NHL and he is off to a phenomenal start this season with a 1.99 GAA and .939 save percentage in five games thus far.

But how will the 36-year-old goalie handle a back-to-back?

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