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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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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

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