Coaches Knew About UM Player Payouts: Shapiro - NBC 6 South Florida

Coaches Knew About UM Player Payouts: Shapiro

Shapiro implicates three former coaches in player payouts scandal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Shapiro's Attorney Talks NCAA investigation

    Nevin Shapiro claims he lost over $9 million betting on Miami Hurricane football and he paid out millions more to players. (Published Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011)

    Nevin Shapiro's attorney just upped the ante in the University of Miami improper benefits scandal.

    Maria Elena Perez told NBC Miami's Joe Rose on Wednesday that former Canes football coach Randy Shannon knew about the gifts and payouts her client provided to players, which has become the centerpiece of an NCAA investigation.

    On Tuesday, Yahoo! Sports published a detailed report of Shapiro's decade-long run as a UM booster and the alleged benefits he provided players, which included trips to nightclubs and strip clubs, parties at his multimillion dollar mansion and yacht, cash payments, restaurant meals and in one case, an abortion for a woman impregnated by a player.

    "I believe based on what my client has indicated, Randy Shannon did know," Perez said on the Joe Rose Morning Show on 560 WQAM.

    Shannon's name was not among the seven football and three basketball coaches alleged to have been involved, according to Yahoo!'s investigative report

    According to Perez, former football coach Larry Coker, who won a national title with Miami in 2001, also knew about Shapiro's improper dealings with players. Coker's name was also not included in the Yahoo! report.

    The Yahoo! report, however, does implicate former UM basketball coach Frank Haith in the scandal, which could bring major sanctions for one of the nation's most popular and notorious athletic departments.

    Haith recently took the job as University of Missouri head coach and Coker is the head coach at the University of Texas-San Antonio. Haith has said he was contacted by NCAA investigators about the allegations.

    A UTSA spokesman said the university, nor Coker, have been contacted by the NCAA. 

    Shannon was fired by UM at the end of last season. A phone call to a number listed for Randy Shannon was busy Wednesday.

    Shapiro is currently serving 20 years in a federal prison for his role in a $900 million Ponzi scheme. Perez said Shapiro lost as much as $9 million betting on UM football and would wager as much as $400,000 on games.

    Payout allegations initially surfaced when federal authorities met with Shapiro in a New Jersey prison, Perez said. She said some of Shapiro's actions might be criminal, but did not elaborate on what law enforcement agency might be investigating.

    Perez said Shapiro would often use a middle man to deliver cash to players.

    Current Miami players named by Shapiro as receiving benefits included quarterback Jacory Harris, Ray Ray Armstrong, Travis Benjamin, Sean Spence, Marcus Forston, Vaughn Telemaque, Dyron Dye, Aldarius Johnson and Olivier Vernon. Former Hurricanes quarterback Robert Marve, now at Purdue, also was named by Shapiro, Yahoo! Sports said.

    In total, 72 former and current players have been implicated in the alleged scandal. Perez said Shapiro's paid out millions of dollars to players.

    UM officials said they are cooperating with investigators.

    "As a member of the University family, I am upset, disheartened, and saddened by the recent allegations leveled against some current and past student-athletes and members of our Athletic Department," UM President Donna Shalala said in a statement. "Make no mistake—I regard these allegations with the utmost of seriousness and understand the concern of so many of you. We will vigorously pursue the truth, wherever that path may lead, and I have insisted upon complete, honest, and transparent cooperation with the NCAA from our staff and students."

    The current scandal dredges up bad memories of the UM football program from two decades ago, when UM football was branded as the Bad Boys of college football.

    In the late 1980s and through much of the 1990s, allegations of players being paid improper benefits by boosters and local celebrities like Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell sparked an NCAA investigation into the program. 

    There was also the Pell Grant scandal of 1995 that resulted in NCAA sanctions.

    UM officials sought to clean up Miami's national image and hired Coker and Shannon to be the front men for a cleaned up program with upstanding student athletes.

    But Shapiro's allegations, if true, might prove that it was all a facade and could end in serious sanctions for UM.

    Some media outlets are already talking the NCAA "Death Penalty," which was last levied on Southern Methodist University in 1987.

    "If the assertions are true, the alleged conduct at the University of Miami is an illustration of the need for serious and fundamental change in many critical aspects of college sports," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement.

    With his program being buffeted from all sides by allegations, current Canes football coach Al Golden addressed the ongoing controversy at practice Wednesday morning.

    "Everybody is practicing," he said. "If it is determined somebody broke rules, then certainly they'll be first dealt with. ... As we get ready for Maryland, hopefully we'll swiftly learn if errors were made. If there are guys that are going to have to sit out games, we'll adjust our practice accordingly."

    The Hurricanes open their season Sept. 5 against Maryland.

    Players weren't permitted to speak with the media, and it is unlikely that any UM player will be allowed to talk to the media anytime soon.

    Golden said he wants to know the results of an ongoing NCAA investigation into Shapiro's allegations quickly, in part so his players don't repeat past mistakes.

    "If they were exposed to Mr. Shapiro, clearly we have to make sure we prevent that going forward," Golden said. "You do that by getting to the facts. How did this guy, if he did, get around our players like that? As a head coach, I want to know. I know our assistant coaches want to know. We want to make sure it never happens again. It shouldn't happen."

    Golden said when he interviewed for the job, Miami officials did not tell him about Shapiro's allegations.

    "If they knew this was percolating, I believe they did have a responsibility to tell me," Golden said. "I believe they have a responsibility to tell Shawn. But look, I'm happy here. My wife is happy here. We have great kids on this team. ...

    "I want to make sure we get it right. As quickly as we can get to the bottom of whatever happened, then we can move forward. The only way to do that is to cooperate with the NCAA and get the truth."

    Perez said Shapiro "does not want to take down anyone" but decided to come forward with his story "because he thought he was doing a good thing."

    Shapiro wrote in an email dated Aug. 17 obtained by NBC Miami that he had "no regrets" about coming forward with his allegations and that "I'm not ashamed of myself."