Blog Entry

Report: Miami coaches knew of massive violations

Posted on: August 16, 2011 6:26 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 2:33 am

Posted by Chip Patterson and Adam Jacobi

Former Miami booster and indicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro provided thousands of dollars in impermissible benefits to "at least 72 student-athletes" between 2002 and 2010, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.

The investigation included over 100 hours of jailhouse interviews with Shapiro, along with financial records and corroboration from several sources - including former Miami players - to support the claims. Among the most alarming details to the program include seven former coaches and three athletic support staff who either witnessed, had knowledge of, or even participated in Shapiro committing all kinds of NCAA violations. The report details the life of a rampant rule-breaker who was never told to stop.

"At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to: cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and on one occasion, an abortion," Robinson writes.

One former Miami player, running back Tyrone Moss, told Yahoo! Sports he accepted $1,000 from Shapiro around the time he was entering college. "Hell yeah, I recruited a lot of kids for Miami," Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports. "With access to the clubs, access to the strip joints. My house. My boat. We're talking about high school football players. Not anybody can just get into the clubs or strip joints. Who is going to pay for it and make it happen? That was me."

The University of Miami has not commented specifically on the allegations made by Shapiro, as is generally the policy of schools under NCAA investigation, except to say that Shapiro was not as forthcoming to the school and to the NCAA as he was to Yahoo! Sports.

“When Shapiro made his allegations nearly a year ago, he and his attorneys refused to provide any facts to the university,” Miami associate for communications Chris Freet said. “We notified the NCAA enforcement officials of these allegations. We are fully cooperating with the NCAA and are conducting a joint investigation. We take these matters very seriously.”

Shapiro was once one of Miami's most prominent boosters, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars (and committing $250,000 more) to the football program, and presenting head basketball coach Frank Haith (now of Missouri) and current Miami president Donna Shalala with a check for $50,000 -- earmarked for the basketball program -- at one fundraiser. Shapiro alleges that his donations were was enough for Miami's brass to look the other way on the litany of violations he was perpetrating because they were so desperate for donations.

In fact, not only did Miami officials cast a blind eye to Shapiro, they embraced him as a booster, naming a student lounge after him and letting him lead the team onto its home field before games -- twice. In fact, former Miami athletic director Paul Dee maintained as of Tuesday that Miami "didn't have any suspicion that he was doing anything like this. He didn't do anything to cause concern." Dee is the former chair of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, having served the maximum allowable nine-year term as chair. 

Miami report fallout

Shapiro said he gave money, cars, yacht trips, jewelry, televisions and other gifts to a long list of notable former Hurricanes including Vince Wilfork, Jon Beason, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester, Willis McGahee and the late Sean Taylor.

The potential fall-out from this report could be devastating to the Miami athletic department. Miami's football program was hit with serious sanctions in 1995. Many thought that the program would be protected by any allegations because of the NCAA's four-year statute of limitations. However, under NCAA bylaw 36.2.3 an investigation can expand beyond the statute if information reveals that in individual tied to a university has engaged in "a pattern of willful violations" over a sustained period beyond the previous four years.

One of the most damning aspects of the report was that while Shapiro was a booster for the Hurricanes, he was also acting as a runner for a sports agency -- Axcess Sports & Entertainment -- that he also owned a minority share of. Shapiro's partner in that agency, former NFL agent and current UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue, vehemently denied Shapiro's charges to the Associated Press.

"It's just fantasy," Huyghue said. "He never had any role in my company. He didn't have the acumen to represent players."

Yahoo! Sports reported that Axcess signee Vince Wilfork received $50,000 and a pair of Cadillac Escalades from Shapiro on behalf of the agency, however, and that Hester recognized Shapiro as a runner (though Hester did not name which agent).

Among the litany of gifts and incentives that Shapiro lavished on the Hurricanes included a $5,000 bounty on rival quarterbacks Chris Rix of Florida State and Tim Tebow of Florida. Neither quarterback was knocked out of a game against Miami, but Shapiro said Rix was targeted several time by Miami defenders.

“We pounded the (expletive) out of [Rix],” Shapiro said. “Watch the tape of those games. You’ll see so many big hits on him. Guys were all going after that $5,000 in cash. [Jon Vilma] tried to kill him – just crushed him – a couple of times trying to get that $5,000. And he almost got it, too.” 

Vilma, a current member of the New Orleans Saints, did not comment to Yahoo! Sports.

Now, Shapiro's prediction of the "death penalty" for Miami -- an entire season's cancellation, which is punishment only meted out by the NCAA once, to flagrant and repeat offenders Southern Methodist, in 1987 -- will probably not come true. Robinson even said as much in an interview on ESPN on Tuesday night, saying the idea isn't "reasonable or possible with any program anymore."

And yet it might be. For perhaps the first time since that fateful day in February 1987, the notion of a "death penalty" is now at least a remote possibility. For Miami, that means some of the NCAA's strongest sanctions are likely in store, so even if the worst-case scenario doesn't come true, the once-storied program will probably be damaged for years and years to come.  

AP Sports Writers Steven Wine, Eric Olson, Cliff Brunt and RB Fallstrom contributed to this story.


Since: May 4, 2011
Posted on: August 17, 2011 12:53 pm

Report: Miami coaches knew of massive violations


The league makes sooooo much money- how can it not trickle down to players who deserve to be treated better? "We pay them with a free college education" is just not enough when these hypocrites are making bank...

If you want to fix the league, start by paying the players something- create an incentive that goes beyond the temptations...

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: August 17, 2011 12:36 pm

Report: Miami coaches knew of massive violations

I am upset by the fact that it was done poorly and they got caught.

I won't comment on Canes fans who share that type of thinking.  To the rest of Miami's fans, you have my condolences.  You are entering a media crap-storm that will last at least a year.  As if the embarrassment of the actual events is not enough, you will have to endure hundreds of scathing articles before the issue is put to rest.  I know what its like all too well, and would not wish what you Canes fans are about to endure on anyone.

Since: Aug 27, 2010
Posted on: August 17, 2011 12:34 pm

Report: Miami coaches knew of massive violations

Holy poopstick! That's alot of violations.

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: August 17, 2011 12:21 pm

Report: Miami coaches knew of massive violations

No one is shocked. This school allowed Ray Lewis in, so we are supposed to be shocked? Shut it down, lock the doors and the NCAA would better off.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: August 17, 2011 12:14 pm

Report: Miami coaches knew of massive violations

No, actually this kind of stuff does not happen at every major school.

I agree.  I am confident that there are many schools that are basically clean (but probably not too many that are spotless).  As I see it, there is a correlation between the degree of success on the field and the likelihood that this type of activity will occur.  The more you win, the more likely this stuff is.  It is human nature...lots of people want to associate themselves with winners.  So the more successful a program is, the more people will be wanting to gain access.

Since: Sep 23, 2006
Posted on: August 17, 2011 11:44 am

Report: Miami coaches knew of massive violations

This has been going on for so long that they should slap a RICO violation on Miami as an ongoing criminal enterprise!

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: August 17, 2011 11:40 am

Tell the truth - we don't care....

Just play along with me for a second here.  Imagine this.  Miami, Ohio State, and Southern California all get "the death penalty" from NCAA.  Throw Cam Newton's Auburn Tigers in there too.  Oregon and Florida have also had lesser scandals this year, and the boys in Michigan have been one the verge of scandal.  What if those seven joined Texas (included because they have their own television network) in my make-believe collegiate football league that could allow players to be paid BY BOOSTERS (the universities would not have to pay a dime). 

Which would be more compelling to watch - the other 108 Division I programs "pretending" to play by the rules, or this Super 8 conference?  Add 4 more teams (and come on, I am sure we can come up with 4 other teams that have run afoul of the rules, can't we), that 12-team conference - with kids on the payroll - would be worth following as far as I am concerned.  I do not need the illusion of amateurism. I want to see talented, young football players develop. 

Just think about it.  Every week. Do  you think other schools would want to stay in the NCAA, or would they aspire to play in the Super 8 (or Super 12 conference)?  Penn State, Oklahoma, Florida State, Auburn, LSU.....  which arrangement do you think these teams would prefer?

Just a thought....

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: August 17, 2011 11:34 am

Report: Miami coaches knew of massive violations

Shapiro has ruined so many people financially by lying and cheating that destroying the U gratis has to be considered a charity ruination. I suppose he did it just for fun.

Shapiro may say in the article that he feels betrayed since his "friends" at Miami have turned their backs on him, but somehow I think much of this is motivated by the feds demanding to know where and how he spent all of the money.

Since: Feb 3, 2008
Posted on: August 17, 2011 11:33 am

Report: Miami coaches knew of massive violations

My favorite part - Willis McGahee - who was quoted during the Ohio St scandal that he would gladly accept the 2002 National Championship if the Buckeyes were forced to vacate. Thus far, it doesn't appear that will go that far back. However, Miami's scandal appears to. Another example that people in big, luxurious, glass mansions shouldn't throw their booster-given prostitutes around (or stones either).

Since: Jan 24, 2008
Posted on: August 17, 2011 11:16 am

Report: Miami coaches knew of massive violations

As a die hard Canes fan, I am not upset that this happened as some type of this thing occurs in every major college or university in the nation.  For those of you who argue against this, you are either ignorant or just don't want to believe the truth.  I am upset by the fact that it was done poorly and they got caught.  It is just plain stupid that the coaches not only knew about the violations but were actually actively involved in the violations as well.  Has anyone ever heard of plausible deniability??  Just dumb. 

I am even more upset that this was done so poorly that it didn't translate into any conference or national titles (with the exception of the 2002 team).  I guess Shapriro isn't as football savvy as Luke Skyywalker when he did this in the 80s.

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