Sunday, August 21, 2011
My Sunday Feeling
North Carolina and THE Ohio State University can breathe a completely undeserved sigh of relief. The NCAA has bigger fish to fry. Last week Yahoo Sports broke the story that a scumbag Miami Hurricane booster named Nevin Shapiro showered Hurricane athletes with gifts and money since 2002. Shapiro, pictured above with former Miami basketball coach Frank Haith and Miami President Donna Shalala at a fundraiser is doing 20 years in prison for operating a 930 million dollar Ponzi scheme. The $ 50,000 check held in Dr. Shalala's hands? Completely hot. Stolen from his "investors."
The NCAA investigation involves 73 current Miami and former athletes and @ 7 coaches. You can read about it here: http://sports.yahoo.com/investigations/news?slug=dw-why_miami_is_in_trouble_081611
When, this news first broke the phrase "death penalty" was instantly bandied about in the sports community. They refer, of course, to the NCAA's banning SMU from playing football for 2 years back in the eighties. My initial thought was that the NCAA would never do that to a program again. Indeed, SMU has just now become remotely competitive again. Besides, the Mustangs scandal not only involved the boosters but the coaches were in on it and the SMU administration was aware of it. Hell, even the Governor of Texas back then knew about it. If any program deserved getting nuked it was SMU.
But I am having second thoughts as the Miami deal is getting worse with each passing day. First of all, the Miami Hurricanes are no stranger to the NCAA slammer. Indeed, they were on probation in 2002 when Shapiro says he started his activities. Rumor has it that the NCAA has advised Miami that it will invoke the "wilful violators" clause in the NCAA by-laws to increase the "lookback" period beyond the the usual 4 years. If Miami was violating the "extra benefit" rule while on a period of probation this will not go well for them.
Secondly, as Yahoo reported, Shapiro, in a drunken rage, tried to fight Miami's compliance officer in the press box during a game. They should have banned him from the program then but didn't. Secondly, Shapiro says that Miami investigated him after that incident and discovered all the swag he was providing the players. And did nothing. Why should Shapiro be believed? After all he's a convict. Well, so far he has been right on the money according to Yahoo, convicted con-man or not.
If this is true, Miami is toast. The NCAA will have to come down harder on Miami than Southern Cal and Tennessee. Here's why. The head of the Committee on Infractions in above-referenced investigations was a man named Paul Dee. Guess what? Dee was the Athletic Director at Miami when most of these alleged violations took place. And it has been reported elsewhere that Dee approved Shapiro to participate in a mentors' program back in 1995. No, whatever the NCAA does to Miami, if it can prove a lack of institutional control and/or actual knowledge of what Shapiro was up to while its former top cop was the AD it will not be pretty.
Of course, the delicious irony in all of this is that Butch Davis was brought in to Miami to shut down the party and appease the NCAA after Dennis Erickson got them put on probation. As you may recall, Butch Davis just got fired at North Carolina for NCAA violations during his watch.
The only reason a punk like Nevin Shapiro got within spitting distance of the athletic department at Miami, much less on the sidelines, was because he gave them so much money. Even if it wasn't his to give.
Which leads to another observation. If the Federal Judge in Shapiro's criminal case ordered a Trustee to try to "clawback" the money that Shapiro gave to Miami they may get to cough it all up AND suffer what are sure to be crippling sanctions from the NCAA.
A cautionary tale for all Division I schools. Get a handle on the boosters. If it is even possible.