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January 13, 2013

AP Source: NCAA reviews allegations against Miami

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The nearly 2-year-old NCAA investigation into Miami's compliance practices may be nearing an end.

Two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Saturday that the NCAA is scheduling meetings to discuss specific allegations with individuals who are believed to have committed violations found during the inquiry. Some meetings will take place Monday, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the NCAA nor Miami authorized them to reveal the developments publicly.

The reviewing of specific findings is a sign that the investigation phase is ending, meaning Miami may finally receive its notice of allegations letter in the coming days. Typically, schools review at least one draft of the notice before it formally arrives.

The NCAA does not comment on ongoing investigations. Miami's statement throughout the investigation has been that it is cooperating and not commenting further.

Earlier this month, Miami coach Al Golden told the AP that he did not expect the university to be surprised by the NCAA's findings.

"We just want to receive the notice,'' Golden said. "The day we do that is the day we take a big step forward. I don't think there's any question that will be a release. And the good thing there is we don't anticipate any shock or any surprise.''

Miami's receipt of the notice of allegations is simply the end of one phase of the process.

Up next would be the sanctions phase, when the actual penalties against the Hurricanes would be handed down. Typically, schools and individuals named in the notice of allegations have 90 days to file a response to the NCAA's findings, all of which would be reviewed by the committee on infractions - which operates separately from the NCAA's investigative arm.

If the notice of allegations is, in fact, looming, that means Miami may find out its punishment by perhaps May or June.

Some of the sanctions have already gone into effect, since they were self-imposed. Miami's football team has missed three postseason games - two bowl games and what would have been an appearance in this season's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game - in response to the investigation, and Golden is holding back a number of scholarships from the 2013 roster as well.

The Miami investigation may go down as one of the most complex in the NCAA's history.

For starters, the principal whistleblower is Nevin Shapiro, a former booster who's serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme. Virtually all of the individuals who were named by Shapiro in his detailed claims that were published by Yahoo Sports in August 2011 are no longer at the university, and several of the people to whom the NCAA wanted to talk simply refused during the inquiry.

The NCAA inquiry started several months before that August 2011 article.

Shapiro's tales were wild and sordid, with claims of him giving dozens of coaches, players and recruits things like cash, memorabilia, strip-club outings, yacht rides and even paying for prostitutes. In an interview in 2011 with Miami CBS affiliate WFOR, Shapiro predicted that his claims would lead to Miami's football program getting the "death penalty'' - the sanction where the NCAA would basically shut down the program.

Most of Shapiro's claims involved the football program, though others also involved the Hurricanes' men's basketball team.

 

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