UM Booster Admits: Cash, Prostitutes for Players

Ponzi schemer's malfeasance could end up getting UM football the "death penalty"

By David Hill
|  Wednesday, Aug 17, 2011  |  Updated 12:33 PM EDT
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Former University of Miami booster and convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro is claiming  he spent millions of dollars on improper gifts to players and recruits.

Former University of Miami booster and convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro is claiming he spent millions of dollars on improper gifts to players and recruits.

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Miami Beach Ponzi Scheme

Miami Beach businessman Nevin Shapiro was arrested yesterday, charged with running a massive $900 million Ponzi scheme.
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Convicted Ponzi schemer and former University of Miami football booster Nevin Shapiro detailed the improper benefits he says he provided to at least 72 UM student-athletes in an investigative report published Tuesday by Yahoo.

If even a fraction of his allegations are true, the U could find itself in seriously deep trouble with NCAA investigators currently looking into the matter.

Reporters conducted over 100 hours of jailhouse interviews with Shapiro over the past 11 months and audited over 20,000 of Shapiro's business documents along with multiple years of credit card bills, 5,000 pages of cell phone bills, and over 1,000 photos, Yahoo's Charles Robinson said.

The result is a portrait of an out-of-control athletic booster whose provided benefits "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."

A least ten former UM coaches, assistants and staffers were implicated by Shapiro, including former basketball coach Frank Haith and former football assistant coaches Aubrey Hill, Jeff Stoutland, and Clint Hurtt.

Among the former Canes named as recipients in Yahoo's investigation are Jon Beason, Devin Hester, Frank Gore, Antrel Rolle, and many, many others.

Current Canes Jacory Harris, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Travis Benjamin, and Dyron Dye were also among the players alleged to have received benefits from Shapiro.

Shapiro told Yahoo he was nicknamed "Lil' Luke," an allusion to Miami rapper and UM booster Luther Campbell, who infamously paid bounties for on-field play during the 1980s and 1990s.

While the abortion will garner the most salacious headlines, perhaps the most egregious violation of NCAA rules was the $50,000 lump sum reportedly paid to former Cane Vince Wilfork as a recruiting tool for the sports agency co-owned by Shapiro, Axcess Sports & Entertainment.

But most worrisome for Canes fans is the fact that Shapiro's allegations could trigger an exception to the NCAA's four-year statute of limitations by revealing a "pattern of willful violations."

Shapiro predicted Tuesday that his allegations will earn Miami football the so-called "death penalty."

The NCAA has not given a football program the death penalty, which includes a multiyear suspension of an entire program, since it did so to Southern Methodist University in the 1980s.

Shapiro's ample allegations and the vast paper trail seeming to back it up could force the NCAA to revisit the practice it has kept on the shelf for decades.

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