Blog Entry

What if what Nevin Shapiro did for UM was legal?

Posted on: August 16, 2011 9:18 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 11:46 pm

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The college football world is rightly reeling from the Yahoo! Sports report in which disgraced former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro detailed a litany of impermissible benefits he provided to dozens of Miami Hurricanes, both past and present. One more time through, for good old times' sake:

In 100 hours of jailhouse interviews during Yahoo! Sports’ 11-month investigation, former Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro described a sustained, eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking, some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs. 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.

Now, there appear to be a few main areas of objection to Shapiro's actions here.

1) The massive violations of NCAA rules.

2) The bounties on other quarterbacks' heads.

3) The prostitutes.

4) The money all being derived from a Ponzi scheme.

The last three objections are abhorrent and indefensible. Plain and simple. The second has no place in sport, the third has no place in society, and the fourth is landing Shapiro in federal prison until he's an old man. They are all stains on Miami's legacy.

The NCAA violations, however, appear to be "illegal generosity" on a scale the likes of which the NCAA has seen maybe once before. Obviously, that kind of flagrant disregard for NCAA rules and Miami's subsequent standing is also a major problem and something Shapiro had no business doing. But that said, what's wrong about his violations of NCAA rules other than the fact they were violations?

Miami report fallout

Put it another way: if the NCAA's amateurism rules were such that student-athletes were permitted to receive gifts without condition (i.e. no contracts, no game-fixing, no other quid pro quo legal or otherwise, only charity), then what would be untoward about Shapiro's actions? He gave $1,000 to Tyrone Moss (pictured above) when Moss was struggling with money and had a baby to keep fed. He took players to expensive restaurants and nightclubs. He gave potential recruits money, including some young men who either transferred or never went to Miami in the first place. Presumably, Shapiro did not ask for this money back.

What, other than the impermissible nature of those interactions, is so upsetting about any of that? It's certainly not criminal activity -- or at least it wouldn't be if Shapiro's money was clean. It's showing some athletes -- including 12 current 'Canes -- a good time. It's giving them a taste (or two) (or 20) of the kind of life professional athletes enjoy on a routine basis. And yes, the money to potential recruits might have influenced some college choices, but if Shapiro had just given that money to the school's athletic department, it would have likely gone to facilities or other upgrades... that would have been helpful in recruiting.

And best of all for Miami (or any other potential athletic department), it wasn't costing the school one red cent.

I would like to see a world of college athletics where people wouldn't be aghast at student-athletes receiving gifts from boosters, but at a by-the-book exploitative relationship between athletic department and student-athlete where only the department is allowed to reap the fruits of the student-athletes' labor. That day's probably a long, long way off, though. And that's too bad for anyone who sees a team full of broke young men and has the ways and means to do just a little something about it.


Since: Apr 28, 2007
Posted on: August 20, 2011 11:05 am

What if what Nevin Shapiro did for UM was legal?

I would add that the hypothetical player in the aforementioned scenario was let's say age 19 at the time.   

CORRECTION: I wrote "...that financial contributions made by Shapiro to these players was not illegal..."  Sorry, I mean "contributions WERE not illegal..."  I proof read after I submit.  No patience.

Since: Apr 28, 2007
Posted on: August 20, 2011 11:00 am

What if what Nevin Shapiro did for UM was legal?

I like the dialogue started here by Adam.  Both sides make some valid arguments.  I gather, correct me if I'm wrong, that financial contributions made by Shapiro to these players was not illegal, just a violation of NCAA policy. 

Here's a QUESTION for Adam or anyone else here who may know.  It's a NCAA violationby the player  for sure- but- is it illegal for someone who has no connection to any college to pay a high school athlete (senior year who committed to a college) for future licensing rights to their name and image?

The motivation would have been the fact that "someone" thought they would eventually become a future super-star - making it a possible long-term investment.  Again, no ties to any agents, no ties to any university - just a perspicacious investor who hypothetically paid a former Hurricane for these rights.

I certainly think that would have been legal.  The attornies I know don't seem to be concerned.  Any other opinions?

Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: August 18, 2011 2:10 am

What if what Nevin Shapiro did for UM was legal?

Hahahaha, do youthink paying players is a good thing?  That it would SIMPLIFY the rules?  Consider:

1) Can anyone pay? For example, can a University set up a fund where it could collect donations and then tell the coaching staff they've got say $5 million in donations to divy out to prospective recruits? 

2) Can UConn and Tennessee guarantee buying women's college basketball championships because obviously no other University cares enough for that sport?

3) Can we pay high school kids, or do they have to have signed a letter of intent?  Do I have to watch slick willy or little luke show up at my kid's AAU game and watch the Benjamins flow?

4) Could a player set up his own donation fund on eBay to "convince" him not to go pro?   For example, could Andrew Luck demand $200K to stay for another year? Publicly?

5) If you pay a kid, and he decides to transfer, do they have to pay it back?  What if he gets injured? Can it be pay for incentives, like in the pros?  Do you pay per game, or just to show up at school?  

6) Can the players form a Union now that they are paid?  Do they sign contracts?  Can they hire agents? Can they strike?  

7) How are you going to collect taxes?  The boosters have to pay taxes too right - such as social security?  Are they employers?  If not, you still have to pay taxes on gifts over a certain anount.  You think the IRS won't get involved????

8) Why must a player be forced to sit out if he transfers?  You will need a monopoly extension clause like all major league sports have, otherwise.  A player should be able to market his skills to a new University every year, right?  Heck, can a booster from Auburn promise to pay an Alabama superstar a bundle to transfer?

9) Are we going to set up a trust fund for these players?  Or are you seriously thinking of giving tens of thousands of dollars to kids just out of high school living in a college environment?  Man, I remember my college days - I could throw some serious parties with that kind of cash.  You want this?

This is a ridiculous idea.  If you think it would help the situation, you are nuts.  It sounds like the freaking Mafia.  The NCAA rulebook for compliance will triple in size.  Seriously.  You could obviously kiss the concept of a level playing field goodbye.  My gosh, I just thought up the above in 5 minutes.  I am laughing my ass off at people (this means you, and Greeny) that think paying players will solve anything.

Since: Apr 13, 2009
Posted on: August 18, 2011 2:03 am

What if what Nevin Shapiro did for UM was legal?

Currently, schools are not on equal footing in recruiting. The big schools have built in advantages over small schools by virtue of their size and their ability to spend on facilities and coaches salaries, etc. Do you think Ohio State and Bowling Green are on equal footing for recruits now? That is absurd.

Since: Apr 13, 2009
Posted on: August 18, 2011 2:00 am

What if what Nevin Shapiro did for UM was legal?

Students on music schoarships or academic scholarships get the "full ride" you are talking about. But they are not restricted from earning money outside of the school.  Why should athletes be the only ones who can't make money like that?

Since: Jan 22, 2009
Posted on: August 17, 2011 11:22 pm

What if what Nevin Shapiro did for UM was legal?

Paying athletes obviously isnt the solution.  That being said, if the NCAA says they can't accept money, which they shouldn't, then how can they make video games with the athletes on them?  I know it doesn't say their names, but it still has the players and their numbers and comparable abilities.  Why should jerseys be made with their numbers on them?  It's not right to pay them, but it's just as wrong to make money off of making their jerseys to sell and putting them on video games and not allowing them to get any payoff from it.  I'm not saying that players deserve to make some extra money, I'm just saying the NCAA is wrong to not put some kinds of rules in place that don't allow other companies, schools, etc. from making money off of the players in terms of jerseys, memorabilia, video games and then expect the players to not want some kind of extra payment from those things.

Since: Nov 26, 2006
Posted on: August 17, 2011 10:57 am

What if what Nevin Shapiro did for UM was legal?

Why do most people not realize that these college athletes are already being paid. For the most part, every member of the football and basketball teams is on a full scholarship. In 2011, at the University of Miami, FL, the cost of 1 year for a freshman or transfer student is $56,512. This cost includes meal plans, housing, books, computers and $1,750 in cash for 'personal' use.

What puzzles me is that when you are on a full scholarship, every one of these exspenses is covered by the school. You live for free, are fed for free, get books for free and are paid cash for free. If tuition costs do not rise, then this class entering college in 2011 will be paid 226,048 by the university over 4 years of schooling. All living exspenses paid, all education costs paid.

The argument of these kids being broke is old and tired. They are given everything to live on for 4 or even 5 years without having to pay $0.01 out of pocket. They get free housing, have no utlilities, free food, free computers, free books, free cash, free transportation/buses...etc

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: August 17, 2011 9:25 am

What if what Nevin Shapiro did for UM was legal?

Proposing that student athletes be allowed to accept gifts of meals, money, etc. as part of playing sports for their university ignores the main reason why this is currently not allowed.  NCAA rules attempt to put all schools, big or small, on equal footing when it comes to recruiting student athletes.  But if monetary incentives (read that bribes, payoffs, whatever term you like) are allowed, then all schools will definitely NOT be on equal footing when it comes to recruiting.  The schools whose boosters have the deepest pockets will get the pick of all high school athletes because they will be able to pay them the most, and any degree of parity and competitiveness will disappear from college sports.  Some will argue that that is exactly what is happening now, so why play games anymore.  But as long as the NCAA still has the power to reduce scholarships, ban bowl appearances and limit televised games, there is still significant incentive for schools to toe the line and keep college sports about the competition and not the money.

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: August 17, 2011 1:25 am

What if what Nevin Shapiro did for UM was legal?

What OSU, GT, UNC, and some others did was peanuts compared to this.  Heck even Scam Newton and ReggieGate may be small potatoes compared to this.  They do need to fix the system, but paying players is NOT the solution as then the NCAA is just a junior NFL and nothing more.  Everyone seems to forget about the free education that is being offered to these kids, which certainly should be enough.  All this talk about paying them on top of giving them a free education is completely asinine.  If they go that way then all sports should be removed from college and have junior sports leagues and professional leagues and leave the colleges to people who actually want an education.  It makes me sick that I will be working til I'm past 60 to put my kids through college while people like our supposed college athletes squander the education while demanding more like welfare recipients with their hand out for food stamps and buying lobster!!!  Babylon is falling again!!!

Since: Jan 22, 2009
Posted on: August 17, 2011 1:20 am

What if what Nevin Shapiro did for UM was legal?

I agree with this article in that what Shapiro did was terribly terribly wrong.  I also agree that the providing poor college kids with some extra money to support their struggling families and or kids and with a dinner every now and then isn't the end of the word.  However, as a Carolina fan, it pisses me off that something like this is written only after a huge scandal comes out about a school like Miami.  So is the author saying that one of the four areas that Shapiro did wrong wasn't that bad?  Tressel lied to the NCAA and Pryor got some cars, but if those two points of the Ohio State weren't the case, would that whole case be such a big deal?  Some of the UNC players cheated which is unacceptable especially at a university known for its academics, but a big deal was made out of the the plane tickets, parties, extra money that was given to our players and the result of that was our team was depleted and our coach fired even though there was no evidence to support that he had anything to do with it.  The illegal stuff such as that what Shapiro did and Pryor's stuff, the lying to the NCAA (Tressel) and the cheating like at UNC is unacceptable in college sports.  But I don't understand why this article is written now when there are so many much worse things than taking a player to a nice restaurant going on in the Miami situation?  Where was this article when any of the other, less serious (except USC) cases came about?  This all being said, I don't think that what happened at Ohio State, USC, UNC, etc. is any better or more acceptable than this situation, i just don't understand how you can possibly defend a small part of a huge scandal like this when what you're defending has happened tons of times recently and no one defended those points then.  I do believe something needs to be done to fix the ridiculous minor infractions that the NCAA has.

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