In what has the potential to be the most explosive college football scandal since Eric Dickerson was pumping bass out of the speakers of his shiny new gold Trans-Am in the late '70s, a rogue University of Miami booster who doubles as a convicted felon (Ponzi scheme represent yo!) revealed in an explosive piece on Yahoo! Sports that he showered riches (cash, jewelry, hookers, hotels, abortions...well, to be fair, ONE abortion) upon as many as 72 different Hurricane players and several coaches over the last decade.
Nevin Shapiro was convicted last year of running a $930 million Ponzi scheme and, as a result, he is now rotting in a federal prison and wondering where all of his "friends" from the University of Miami football program are. When none of the 72 players he
paid to be his counted among his buddies stepped up to help him in his time of conviction need last year, Shapiro gave Yahoo! access to all of his credit card and phone records and sat down for over 100 hours worth of interviews with ace investigative reporters Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel.
The piece on Yahoo! Sports outlines the impermissible benefits received by Miami players in great detail. But here are some of the highlights:
-- Shapiro named 39 former Miami players for whom he paid and arranged prostitution services. At first, he would have the prostitutes show up at large parties for the players involved, but eventually he whittled the affairs down to a far more personal one-on-however-many setting for individual players, oftentimes reserving hotel rooms under the name "Teddy Dupay." (For those who don't remember, Dupay was a feisty point guard for the Florida Gators about a decade ago. Appropriately, he's been accused of everything from sexual assault to gambling on games since leaving Gainesville.)
-- There was also jewelry (courtesy of Yahoo!):
The booster said he doled out tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry for players, including watches (Tavares Gooden and Antrel Rolle), diamond-studded dog tags (Sean Taylor) and an engagement ring (Devin Hester).
Because you can never have too many diamond-studded dog tags.
-- Shapiro paid for not one, but TWO, of Willis McGahee's female acquaintances to attend the 2002 Heisman Trophy ceremony. B.Y.O.T. you know, Bring Your Own Threesome.
-- Oh, there were strip clubs, too:
Shapiro rotated through multiple strip clubs with players on a regular basis -- Solid Gold, The Cheetah, Pink Pony and Tootsies Cabaret. Shapiro often arrived to the clubs with thick wads of cash to spend on the dancers. Despite that, his additional credit card charges for just Solid Gold from mid-2005 to 2010 totaled $32,683.25.
The Pink Pony. That's a place.
-- And then, the money shot -- the first time I've ever seen an abortion as an impermissible benefit:
In one instance, Shapiro described taking a player to the Pink Pony strip club and paying for a dancer to engage in sex with the athlete. In the ensuing weeks, Shapiro said the dancer called one of his security providers and informed him that the player had gotten her pregnant during the incident. Shapiro said he gave the dancer $500 to have an abortion performed, without notifying the player of the incident.
"I was doing him a favor," the booster said. "That idiot might have wanted to keep [the baby]."
It would seem we can chalk Shapiro up as firmly in the "Pro-Choice" group on abortion.
You have to read the entire article. It's an amazing read if you're a college football fan, a hilarious read if you hate Miami and a chilling read if you're in athletics administration. An entire program brought to its knees by the actions of one overly entitled scumbag fanboy (and every person who said "Yes" to him at the U, a group that includes Miami's administration, which accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations over the years).
As for those of you here in Houston, the question naturally is "Were any of the Texans' former Hurricane players (seven in total) named in the investigation?" Well, yes. Two were. Second year linebacker Darryl Sharpton (accused of partying with Shapiro and being offered bounties on opposing players) and wide receiver Andre Johnson (accused of having his VIP charges and drinks covered by Shapiro several times).
So relatively speaking, the Texans are clean. Nothing really earthshaking.
At practice today, Johnson was asked about his relationship with Shapiro and didn't deny knowing him (courtesy of chron.com):
"I wasn't in the clubs too much when I was in college, so I don't know about that," Johnson said about Shapiro claiming he hosted Johnson in VIP sections and bought him drinks, a violation of NFL (sic - NCAA) rules. "He knows what happened, and I know what happened. I'm not really worried about it."
It's highly likely that Johnson could have just been in a big group of players for whom Shapiro was covering the tab, and that he didn't know him all that well or really at all. Of course, conversely, Shapiro probably blew up the picture of him and Andre to a poster size and put it on the wall of one of his ten unpaid-for bedrooms and told everyone they were BFF.
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SHOW ME HOW
We may never know the whole truth. But therein lies the disconnect that led to a jilted Shapiro and, in turn, this entire investigation.
Hurricane players saw Shapiro as an ATM, Shapiro saw them as his friends. When he found out that he'd basically been playing a multimillion-dollar version of Ronald Miller from Can't Buy Me Love for the last ten years, he figured it was time for the whistle to be blown.
Let the bodies hit the floor.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio (Sirius 94, XM 208) and on 1560 The Game, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.