NCAA contacted over Florida Bar Association probe of Shapiro lawyer

The NCAA has been contacted as part of a Florida Bar grievance committee investigation of South Florida attorney Maria Elena Perez, a source told

Perez is the attorney used by the NCAA in the Miami case to gain subpoena power in interviewing witnesses who otherwise would not have been compelled to cooperate with the NCAA. Perez has repeatedly proclaimed her innocence.

However, the complaint against her has gone to the next level -- to the Florida Bar grievance committee, which was described as a "grand jury" of sorts by a spokesman. This panel will determine whether there is enough evidence to move forward. The Florida Supreme Court would determine any discipline for Perez.

A federal judge in March questioned whether Perez's relationship with the NCAA was unethical. Perez was paid $19,000 for her services by the NCAA in what was ruled to be an improper relationship, according to an NCAA's review.

"The complaint is regarding her involvement with the University of Miami and NCAA matter," bar spokesman Francine Walker said. "That's all I can tell you right now. I can only confirm its existence and its status."

The outcome of the grievance committee investigation could have three possible outcomes, Walker said.

No probable cause to pursue discipline;

Probable cause that would lead to a formal complaint to the state Supreme Court, sort of like an indictment;

Or no probable cause, but a "letter of advice" is issued. One source described such an outcome as a "slap on the wrist."

All of it comes at a time when Miami is in Indianapolis for its NCAA infractions committee hearing. The hearing began Thursday and could wrap up by the end of Friday's meeting. The football portion of the allegations is expected to be discussed.

The grievance committee is made up of nine people -- six attorneys and three non-lawyers. The entire process could take up to a year, or more, according to Walker.

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