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Miami calls for end to NCAA case

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Citing massive impropriety by the NCAA and how it handled the investigation of Miami’s athletic department, the Hurricanes want the case against them thrown out altogether and formally filed a motion Friday — as did three former assistant coaches — to have the case brought to an end, said a person familiar with the situation.

Meanwhile, the NCAA still wants to know if Miami ignored evidence that the former booster at the center of this scandal was providing impermissible benefits to Hurricanes’ athletes, coaches or recruits, according to the person, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because specifics of that filing were not released publicly.

A maneuver like the one the Hurricanes are now trying isn’t how these major-infractions cases typically proceed. However, it essentially is a continuation of what Miami president Donna Shalala demanded in mid-February, that the long saga finally have some closure.

In the notice of allegations filed last month, the NCAA alleged some Miami officials essentially looked the other way when presented with evidence of booster Nevin Shapiro’s wrongdoing — the heart of the lack of “institutional control” charge.

Even with Friday’s new and separate filings, one on behalf of Miami and the other on behalf of the three former Hurricanes coaches named in the allegations — former football assistant Aubrey Hill, and former basketball assistants Jorge Fernandez and Jake Morton — it’s unclear if the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions has the ability to dismiss the case before a hearing.

That hearing is scheduled to begin June 14.

Whether that actually happens remains up for some debate. Neither the university nor the NCAA commented publicly Friday on the filings.

The NCAA, according to the person who spoke with AP, asked Miami as part of its response to the allegations to detail whether or not it hired a private investigator to look into Shapiro’s business dealings between 2002 and 2005, records of a meeting between at least one athletics department official and Shapiro in 2003, and the findings of a study the school conducted with regard to Shapiro in 2006.

Miami also has been asked to provide copies of certain e-mail exchanges that were about Shapiro, including one from 2008 that was sent to at least one member of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s staff.

The NCAA has asked Miami to answer those questions, and others, in its response to the notice of allegations. That response would, in theory, be sent prior to the planned hearing on the Miami charges.

“When put on notice of potential issues with Shapiro’s involvement ... the institution failed to limit Shapiro’s access or implement any additional monitoring related to Shapiro,” the NCAA alleged in the notice of allegations, details of which were shared with AP. “This lack of oversight created an environment in which Shapiro was able to have impermissible contact.”

Meanwhile, Miami is continuing to stand firm in its belief its self-imposed sanctions are enough punishment for any wrongdoing.

E-mail exchanges, obtained by the AP and first reported by the Miami Herald, showed this week an investigator the NCAA used in the Miami case — Stephanie Hannah, a 20-year NCAA veteran who replaced Ameen Najjar, who was fired — asked Shapiro’s lawyer, Maria Elena Perez, to extract information damaging to the university from his bodyguard, Mario Sanchez.

Those details were not included in the review the NCAA ordered earlier this year about its own accountability in the Miami investigation, which has dragged on since the spring of 2010. And those details would seem to support Miami’s assertion the NCAA overstepped its bounds during the probe.

It’s clear the rift between Miami and the NCAA is growing and becoming more complex each day, especially after the details of some questionable NCAA investigating tactics have come to light in recent weeks.

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