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Jim Larranaga: 'I am Coach-3' in FBI college basketball probe

University of Miami coach Jim Larranaga said his legal team believes he is “Coach-3,” as noted in the Department of Justice report about the FBI investigation into college basketball’s underbelly.

>> Read more trending news

“I am grateful we have come to that conclusion,” said Larranaga, “as I know I did nothing wrong, and it is comforting to know none of my assistants are connected in any way.” He added that the U.S. attorney’s office has not confirmed the identity of “Coach-3.”

In a news conference at the Watsco Center, Larranaga addressed the media for the first time since the Sept. 26 complaint was unveiled in New York. Uncharacteristically, he read from a prepared statement. He fielded questions afterward from reporters about the emotional impact, but referred all inquiries about the investigation to his statement, which said he appreciated that the media had a job to do, but that he would not offer comment.

Larranaga’s full statement: 

“I cannot state more emphatically that I absolutely have no knowledge of any wrongdoing by any member of our staff and I certainly have never engaged in the conduct that some have speculated about,” Larranaga said, holding a piece of paper with both hands.

“I have tried to live every single one of my 68 years on this earth with integrity, character, and humility. … To have those values that I cherish so dearly even questioned, is disheartening and disappointing.”

“Coach-3,” in the FBI report, was said to know about an Adidas executive and others conspiring to funnel some $150,000 to a 2018 recruit, later learned to be Orlando-based five-star wing Nassir Little. Little and his father signed statements, provided to The Post by Larranaga’s legal team, saying they accepted no money, never discussed payment with any of the men charged, and they and Miami did nothing wrong.

>> Related: Auburn, Oklahoma State, USC coaches among 10 charged with corruption

Asked about his relationship with former Adidas executive Jim Gatto, who was one of 10 men indicted by the FBI on conspiracy and fraud charges, Larranaga declined to comment, referring to the statement.

“It’s been a strain, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually,” Larranaga said. “It’s something that’s there. I have to deal with it. I have the support of my wife and a wonderful family. I have the support of the university, my staff and players.”

Both Ja’Quan Newton and Bruce Brown, the two players Miami made available to the media, said they were not aware of the details of the investigation. They said practice has been as usual, and they’ve noticed no change in their coach.

“Around us, ‘Coach L’ isn’t going to show he’s hurt,” Newton said. “He’s so happy to be around us.”

Larranaga said he briefed his players on Sept. 26, along with UM Athletics Director Blake James.

“They have nothing to do with this,” Larranaga said. “It hasn’t been talked about since.”

Asked how the investigation has affected recruiting, Larranaga said it has been a negative, but his staff is “very strong and resilient, and we’ll figure out a way to recruit successfully.”

UM does not have a verbal commitment for 2018. It had an official visit set up the weekend of Sept. 9 with five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley, but it was canceled when Hurricane Irma forced UM to evacuate the campus.

Asked if he has received messages of support from colleagues, Larranaga answered, “Yes.”

Asked if that has helped, Larranaga answered with the same flat, “Yes.”

Auburn, Oklahoma State, USC coaches among 10 charged with corruption

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday announced charges against 10 people accused of participating in a pair of college basketball bribery schemes, including four coaches in top-tier college basketball programs and employees of global sportswear apparel giant Adidas.

>> Read more trending news 

“The picture painted by the charges brought today is not a pretty one,” acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities allege that four coaches took bribes to steer their student athletes toward financial advisers, business managers and athletic advisers, including Jim Gatto, listed online as the director of global marketing for Adidas; and Munish Sood, identified by The Washington Post as chief executive of financial advisory company Princeton Capital.

Prosecutors identified the charged coaches as Auburn University assistant coach Chuck Person, University of Southern California assistant coach Tony Bland, University of Arizona assistant coach Emanuel "Book" Richardson and Oklahoma State University assistant coach Lamont Evans.

Poll reveals racial divide over whether college athletes should be paid

Should college athletes be paid beyond their full scholarship? The results of an August poll by the Washington Post and the University of Massachusetts Lowell show a racial divide in the answer to that question.

>> Read more trending news

When coaches are being paid millions, and sports facilities cost tens of millions, some say athletes should also be compensated.

Although 52 percent of Americans believe a scholarship is enough, 54 percent of black Americans said they believe athletes should be paid based on the revenue they generate. 

"The schools are making an awful lot of money, and the coaches are making millions and millions of dollars, and they're (the players) the ones bringing in the money, really," one black respondent said.

But whites see things differently. 

"The whole reason they go to college is to get an education, and a scholarship should be enough," a white nurse said. "They shouldn't be paid to play football."

The majority of whites who took the poll agreed with her.

Take an in-depth look at what some economists and labor lawyers call a critical problem with college sports on myajc.com

Sports teams poke fun at eclipse through social media

Several sports teams had some fun with Monday's solar eclipse, taking to social media to put their own spin on the celestial rarity. The Atlanta Hawks gleefully blocked out the Suns, who were only too happy to block them back. And there was a total eclipse of the Hart in Philadelphia.

>> Read more trending news

Let’s start in Atlanta, where the Hawks’ Twitter account noted that “in honor of the sun being blocked today, here are our best blocks against the @Suns over the past few years!”

The Suns were not about to have the Hawks throw any shade on them, so they responded in kind: 

The Philadelphia Eagles had some fun with the 1983 Bonnie Tyler song, “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” using defensive tackle Tyler Hart as their focal point: 

Was that Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo protecting his eyes during the eclipse? Only the Spartans know for sure.

There was plenty of creativity to go around in the sports world. Now, players have until 2024 to think of something new.

Tar Heels return home with 6th NCAA title to celebrating fans

North Carolina dedicated the past year to redeeming itself for 4.7 agonizing seconds.

Now these Tar Heels will hang another banner from the Smith Center rafters. Or the ceiling. But probably not the roof.

No longer haunted by the memory of a buzzer-beating loss in last year's title game, but galvanized by a misstatement from their most decorated former player, the Tar Heels returned home Tuesday with their sixth NCAA Tournament trophy, which they earned a night earlier by beating Gonzaga in the championship game.

"This year," senior Isaiah Hicks said, "we did it."

>> Read more trending news

Thousands of fans poured into the arena and onto the court before the team's flight had even landed at nearby Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and they cheered fanatically every time live footage of the team's motorcade was shown on the video scoreboards.

When the individual players were introduced, they showered Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Justin Jackson with chants of "one more year."

"It just didn't seem like we were going to get back to where we wanted to be, and you all did a great job," said guard Joel Berry II, still wearing the net from the title game around his neck. "We just basically did our thing, and we came back home with it."

This was the first time the team and its fans were together inside the Smith Center since a victory over Duke in the regular-season finale exactly one month earlier — a night made memorable by Michael Jordan's surprise appearance at halftime to announce a partnership between the athletic department and his Nike line.

Read more here

NCAA Championship: UNC, fans celebrate win over Gonzaga on social media

After a heartbreaking loss to Villanova in last year's NCAA Championship, North Carolina came back with a vengeance Monday night, defeating Gonzaga 71-65 to win its sixth national title.

>> PHOTOS: UNC defeats Gonzaga to win 6th NCAA Championship

>> South Carolina women win first NCAA basketball title

Here's what the Tar Heels and their fans were saying on social media:

>> Click here or scroll down to see the posts

Photos: UNC defeats Gonzaga to win 6th NCAA Championship

Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:40 left Monday and North Carolina pulled away for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga that washed away a year's worth of heartache.

South Carolina women win first NCAA basketball title

For the first time in four years, women’s college basketball has a new top team, and it wears garnet and black. The South Carolina women’s basketball team is the new national champion, winning a national title for the first time in program history.

The Gamecocks beat Mississippi State 67-55 in Dallas on Sunday afternoon, completing the run through the postseason all the way to the crown in Dawn Staley’s ninth season.

>> Visit SECCountry.com for more NCAA Tournament coverage

South Carolina made the run without senior center Alaina Coates, who missed the NCAA Tournament with an ankle injury. But what the Gamecocks had was more than enough — and all of it is expected back next season.

Junior forward A’ja Wilson led the Gamecocks with 23 points, while Allisha Gray — the star against Stanford on Friday in the Final Four — again came up huge for South Carolina with 18 points.

When the moment mattered most, it was the pair of Wilson and Gray that proved to be the difference as the duo hit back-to-back hoops after the Bulldogs cut the lead to 4 in the fourth quarter.

In the third meeting between the two teams this season, South Carolina jumped out to a lead late in the first quarter with a 6-0 run. The Gamecocks would never trail again, but the evening wasn’t without its tense moments.

>> Men's basketball: Gonzaga brings South Carolina's fairytale run to an end in Final Four

Mississippi State had a huge third-quarter push left in the tank, started by three straight points from star Victoria Vivians. The Bulldogs rattled off a 9-0 run to cut South Carolina’s lead from 14 down to 5 late in the third quarter, but USC had the answer it needed to live through the run.

Wilson made a short jumper and Kaela Davis capped the third quarter with a buzzer-beating jumper to extend the lead back to 8, but the Bulldogs had another run left.

MSU scored four straight to cut the lead down to 4 with 6:52 to play. Wilson had the necessary answer again, swatting away an MSU shot and getting a good bounce on a short jumper to send South Carolina to a 6-point advantage. Then it was Gray with a jumper to lift the Gamecocks back to safety and off with the national title.

Gonzaga brings South Carolina's fairytale run to an end in Final Four

South Carolina basketball made it all the way to the third weekend of the NCAA Tournament, but it could not make it to the final step.

And it came close after it looked like all was lost. The Gamecocks made a frantic second-half comeback, as they have so many times in the postseason. But it was not enough, as the No. 1-seeded Zags had too much in the end. The Gamecocks’ historic run halted Saturday afternoon in Arizona with a 77-73 heartbreaker at the hands of fellow first-time Final Four participant Gonzaga.

>> Visit SECCountry.com for more NCAA Tournament coverage

South Carolina rattled off a 16-0 run in the second half to take a 67-65 lead with 7:05 to play, but a Zach Collins 3-pointer and back-to-back Przemek Karnowski hoops flipped the game back for the Zags after the Gamecocks has seized control after missing it for the first 33 minutes of the game.

South Carolina kept it close down to the final seconds, but could not get a crucial hoop in the final 1:45 of the game when it was down one possession throughout. Gonzaga fouled Sindarius Thornwell with 3.5 seconds left. The senior made the first but missed the second and Gonzaga grabbed the rebound up two with 2.2 seconds left.

>> Read more trending news

Gonzaga’s Killian Tillie made a pair of free throws, ending the Gamecocks’ season.

Gonzaga came out of the locker room cruising in the first half, hitting 57.6 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from 3-point range. The Gamecocks tied the game twice in the first half — 26-26 and 31-31 — but both times the Zags swung the game right back in their favor with 3-pointers from Jordan Matthews.

Read more here.

Stunner! Mississippi State ends UConn’s 111-game win streak in NCAA semis

The smallest player on the court ended the biggest streak in college sports Friday night.

>> Read more trending news

Morgan William’s pull-up jump shot at the buzzer led Mississippi State to a stunning 66-64 overtime victory against four-time defending national champion Connecticut in the semifinals of the NCAA Women’s basketball tournament.

The loss ended UConn’s NCAA-record 111-game winning streak and the Huskies’ quest for a fifth consecutive national title.

“No one in the country thought that could happen,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. “We beat the greatest team with the greatest streak in the history of sports.”

The game-winning shot by William, a 5-foot-5 junior who finished with 13 points and six assists, sends Mississippi State into Sunday’s national title game against South Carolina. The game will be televised on ESPN at 6 p.m. EDT.

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