January 25, 2013 in Sports

Attorney in Miami case points finger at NCAA

Tim Reynolds Associated Press
 

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – 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 school’s 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 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.”

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 it has commissioned finds more problems.

One thing the NCAA wants to know is exactly what was the nature of the agreement between Perez and former investigators

“I cannot discuss at this juncture my relationship with the NCAA,” said Perez, who added 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.”

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