Last week Yahoo! Sports broke the news that University of Miami football booster, Nevin Shapiro, admitted to providing thousands of benefits to at least 72 athletes from 2002 to 2010 seasons amounting to several millions of dollars. Shapiro has also recently been incarcerated for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme.
This is incredible, and not in a good way. Shapiro has probably single-handedly devastated the Miami football program for seasons to come. The article reads that some of his donated benefits included (but weren’t 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.”
Furthermore, Shapiro’s co-ownership of a sports agency (existing during his time as a Miami booster) signed two first-round picks from Miami, Vince Wilfork and Jon Beason, and recruited dozens of others while Shapiro was also allegedly providing cash and benefits to players. After all this, Shapiro wasn’t about to go down alone. Yahoo! Sports reported that “Shapiro said many of those same players were also being funneled cash and benefits by his partner at Axcess, then-NFL agent and current UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue.”
Nine former Miami players and one former coach have corroborated Shapiro’s claims. And when Yahoo! Sports asked him why?
“I did it because I could,” he said. “And because nobody stepped in to stop me.”
I’ve watched ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, and I have to say one of my favorites was “Pony Excess,” the documentary of the rise and fall of SMU. It is still unknown what kind of fate Miami awaits, but several have predicted the death penalty that struck SMU in the late 1980s.
For those that don’t know, the death penalty is the harshest punishment any NCAA member school can receive and it’s only been given five time. Ever. Simply, the death penalty bans a school from competing in a specific sport for at least one year. SMU had been on probation five times in the nine seasons leading up to the death penalty and continuously lied to NCAA officials. Which goes to show that honesty really is the best policy. Although Miami is reported to be cooperating fully with the NCAA, I don’t know if it can be saved. At a certain point the honesty policy can no longer help you.
Only time will tell what will happen to Miami’s football program. With the offseason almost over, their limbo state is likely coming to a close.