Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD reports a possible major storm on the horizon for the University of Miami football program thanks to allegations from a now-disgraced local businessman.
Five months ago, UM’s website called Nevin Shapiro “an ardent, devoted, intense supporter.” A student lounge was named in his honor.
Now, facing years in prison for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme, Shapiro is writing a book about the UM football program in which he alleges former Canes players committed NCAA violations, said his attorney, Maria Elena Perez. Perez said Shapiro told the federal government about the violations, which are alleged to be major, but it did not investigate because “that’s not their area.”
Shapiro, who lived in a posh Miami Beach home before his April arrest, said from a New Jersey jail that he will not detail the allegations until the book is published; he’s aiming for December. He wrote a first draft and will seek a publisher. The title: The Real U: 2001 to 2010. Inside the Eye of the Hurricane.
It’s documented that former UM booster Shapiro, who was recently convicted of stealing $900 million as part of his racket, formally donated up to $300,000 to the school from what was stolen investor funds. $130,000 of that money has so far been returned to the victims of Shapiro in a bankruptcy proceeding.
Shapiro has yet to be sentenced for his crimes but will likely face significant jail time. Meanwhile, any and all proceeds from his book will go to his Ponzi victims.
Q: So if Shapiro won’t make a dime personally from the book, why hurt the school he supported for so long?
A: Shapiro learned over the years that his money and kindness didn’t buy respect from Miami players and coaches. Especially those who went on to the NFL.
“I want to make the average fan aware of what really exists under that uniform,” he said. “They might be great players, but they’re certainly not great people. I’m speaking of no less than 100 former players.”
Shapiro, 41, is angry because “once the players became pros, they turned their back on me. It made me feel like a used friend.” He was motivated by “heartbreak and disappointment on behalf of the university, which I considered to be an extended part of my family.”
He said the heartbreak was caused by “former players mostly” and “some administrative staff and coaches. I’ve always had the utmost respect for Donna Shalala, Kirby Hocutt and Paul Dee.”
Who are some of the Hurricanes Shapiro claimed to have assisted?
Jon Beason, Devin Hester, Antrel Rolle, Randy Phillips, Robert Marve, Kyle Wright and others when they played at UM, plus former UM assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt, now at Louisville.
“This will be a tell-all book from a fan and booster perspective,” said Shapiro.
Seemingly all that matters in this situation is if Shapiro can produce enough evidence that proves UM coaches and administration officials knew of him providing illegal benefits to players. But in this particular case, there could be much more to the story. At least as it pertains to how the NCAA responds to Shapiro’s charges.
That man who put the beatdown on USC recently for its “lacks of institutional control” on behalf of the NCAA was Committee on Infractions Chairman Paul Dee. The same Dee who was longtime counsel and Athletic Director at the University of Miami. Dee has since resigned his post as AD, but was still presiding over the UM athletic dept. from 2001-2008. (Shapiro claims his book will detail impropriety between 2001-2010.)
This is also the same Dee who used testimony from convicted felon Lloyd Lake as the primary source in the NCAA’s investigation of the link between the USC football program and the illegal benefits Reggie Bush and his family received from Lake and partner Michael Michaels.
Dee is now retired from the “The U.” but still serves as the point man for doling out justice to any football program that violates NCAA rules. So will he recuse himself if the NCAA decides to pursue Shapiro’s claims? And will the NCAA take Shapiro as seriously as Dee took Lake when justifying the harsh penalties given the USC football program?
What we learned with the USC situation, and the penalties Miami received in ‘95 when Dee was just beginning his Coral Gables tenure, is that media coverage of alleged impropriety is predictive as to the level of sanctions a program receives. As I’ve documented, the Miami program was only sanctioned by the NCAA after extensive coverage of off-field shenanigans by the same Miami Herald and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
Same goes for USC. Without Yahoo breaking the story of extra benefits provided Reggie Bush and his parents, for all we know the Trojans would’ve never been cited for any violations.
The thing to watch in this current Miami case is how the media perceives the credibility of Shapiro. If his allegations come off as legitimate and he doesn’t get too caught up with personal attacks, Shapiro may be able to affect the severity of penalties the school might receive.
That may sound obvious, but understand than in its report of why it sanctioned USC so heavily, the NCAA never came close to proving a direct link between USC and those who gave Bush extra benefits. No, the reason USC was saddled with the worst NCAA penalties since the SMU death penalty was the fallout of the Yahoo media reports on the subject.
Convicted felon Lloyd Lake was no more than a street agent who contradicted himself in testimony to the NCAA about what USC knew about benefits given to Bush and his family. Yet it was Lake’s testimony, and more specifically, the Yahoo coverage fueled by Lake’s allegations, that brought down the Trojans.