In case anyone hasn’t already heard, another NCAA football scandal involving former players & coaches has recently been brought into the spotlight, this time at the University of Miami. It has been said that a Univ. of Miami booster named Nevin Shapiro provided illicit benefits to players with the knowledge of the coaches. The former Miami booster is a convicted Ponzi schemer who has decided to share with Yahoo sports writers that he provided all of these extra benefits to at least 72 of the university’s football players, as well as other athletes between 2002 and 2010.
Shapiro gave money, cars, yacht trips, jewelry, televisions and countless other inappropriate gifts to players. Of all his illicit gifts, there are two that stand out to me. First, Shapiro claims he paid for 39 different players to receive sex from prostitutes. Second, he allegedly paid for an abortion for a woman impregnated by a player. Some of the players mentioned in this claim are Vince Wilfork, Antrel Rolle, Chicago Bears WR/CB Devin Hester, Denver Broncos RB Willis McGahee and the late Sean Taylor. The list also includes current University of Miami players quarterback Jacory Harris, Ray Ray Armstrong, and Travis Benjamin. The irony in all of this is that the story was published hours after Hurricanes Head Coach Al Golden said he was certain that his team is going to “stay focused” amid the ongoing investigation from the NCAA. Also, there are at least six coaches and as many as ten athletic department employees that were allegedly aware of Shapiro’s illicit activity, including former basketball coach Frank Haith.
A Brief History of Misconduct
Inappropriate benefits have plagued college football for a long time. You can look as recent as last year, when, in the middle of Auburn’s playoff push, it was discovered that QB Cam Newton had been involved with an agent during his recruitment. This agent was allegedly going to pay Newton to attend Mississippi State University before he eventually signed a letter of intent to play at Florida (Newton transferred to Auburn his junior year). This past season, Ohio State ran into some trouble as well, although it was a little bit of a different situation. The players were selling memorabilia, which the coaches knew about. This happens to be a big no-no with the NCAA. Two years ago, The University of Southern Cal’s Heisman trophy winner Reggie Bush was involved in a scandal that led to heavy sanctions being levied on USC for for four years (2 years remain). USC had to vacate the 2005 NCAA National Championship Bush had to vacate his Heisman Trophy. The worst scandal ever was what happened to Southern Methodist University back in the late 70’s and early 80s when they were investigated and punished for violating numerous NCAA rules and regulations. As a result, the NCAA sanctioned SMU into the Stone Age! It turned out, SMU had a fund set up for “under the table” payments to players from the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s. They would go on to cancel SMU’s entire 1987 season (the first and only time that such a penalty had ever been applied in college football.) This resulted in the virtual destruction of SMU football. Every key player transferred, and the Mustangs would only have one winning season over the next 20 years.
So Now What?
As a fan of college football, I think these scandals are terrible. They are a black eye to the University of Miami, the NCAA and to any college athlete who is trying to do the honest thing, play for his college & get a top notch education. It also brings up the question of how easy it has become for some boosters, agents and even some coaches to get involved with the illegal side of the recruitment process. The majority of these players, who often get full scholarships at places like Miami, Texas, Ohio State and Southern Cal, have little money to themselves. As a result, when someone comes up to them and says “Hey! Do you want $5,000 bucks, a new car and a new dishwasher for your mother!? All you have to do is come play football for my alma mater and it’s yours,” of course these kids are going to go to that school. These people are scumbags who promise to help provide for the students and provide some sort of economic stability for their families while their child is getting a top notch education. It is kind of hard to end on a positive note when you are discussing something of this caliber because it goes beyond the realm of football. The only thing that you hope for is that the players who were involved come clean and admit if they had an involvement and take responsibility for their actions. You then hope that the punishment will not be too severe. This scandal at the University of Miami will surely be another black eye on the program, and the NCAA. The inevitable investigation that will come could get ugly and “the U” could end up facing severe ramifications. Could they even face the dreaded SMU “Death Penalty”??
feature image courtesy of: http://miamiherald.typepad.com
Newton image courtesy of: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America
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