|Did Nevin Shapiro destroy The U?|
The talk of college football is once again turned away from the fields to another NCAA investigation, this time at the University of Miami. If you haven't heard the jaw-dropping allegations, you can read the Yahoo! Sports breaking news column HERE.
I know NCAA president Mark Emmert and crew have a lot on their plates right now, but the allegations made by former super-booster Nevin Shapiro will turn anyone's head. Money, booze and prostitutes...if the NCAA finds any truth to these statements by Shapiro, the hammer is going to drop on the Canes, and it will drop HARD.
I'm sure Miami administration will try a smear campaign against Shapiro, asking the NCAA and fans not to believe a felon serving a 20 year sentence for running a $930 million dollar Ponzi scheme. The only problem is there is evidence everywhere. Yahoo! Sports has done a great job uncovering the case, and there are many pictures of Shapiro with former Hurricanes in clubs and bars and on party yachts. The photo evidence is there, and that's bad news for Miami. Ask Bruce Pearl about the NCAA and photo evidence!
In my opinion, as Shapiro continued to cut checks to the Miami Athletic Department, it gave cause for school officials to turn a blind eye to the possibilities of behind the scenes improprieties. I'm sure they will try to use plausible deniability, just like Ohio State is trying to do with Jim Tressel, but the fact that no coaches are still around to take the fall is again, bad news for The U. Football coaches Larry Coker and Randy Shannon have been fired, basketball coach Frank Haith is now at Missouri and former AD Kirby Hocutt is now at Texas Tech. The only ones left to hold the bag are the UM administration.
Here are some key questions to keep in mind:
How much of Shapiro's allegations are true? That's what the NCAA will be looking for in their investigation. The normal statue of limitations for allegations is four years, but President Emmert has just announced that the NCAA will be invoking the "willful violators" law, which will allow them to investigate back to the beginning of the allegations around 2002. That's even more bad news for Miami. If the NCAA gets to look at EIGHT YEARS worth of allegations, they're coming back with something, I guarantee it.
Is this big enough for the NCAA to consider bringing back the Death Penalty? Since SMU was given a 2 year death sentence in the 80's, the NCAA has not considered handing that down since, after seeing how badly it crippled SMU and led to the demolition of the old Southwest Conference. If most of what Shapiro alleges is true, The U will be hammered unlike any other program since SMU. The death penalty is certainly a possibility, but still unlikely, seeing as how the Miami brand is very profitable for the NCAA's pockets, and we know they are all about the money.
Who takes the fall? As mentioned above, none of the athletic administrators on duty during the time of the allegations are still around. I don't see how UM president Donna Shalala can keep her job, as she has always been outspoken about refuting the rogue label that has been around the Miami program for the last 20+ years. It would be too hypocritical to let her stay around with all of this going down, ultimately, under her watch. The current and future players will be the ones who bear the brunt of the punishment, even though most all of them had nothing to do with this.
Why did Nevin Shapiro have to spill the beans now? Bottom line is the Nevin Shapiro acted as a jilted lover, seeking revenge when no one came to his rescue. While he supplied dozens of former Canes with improper benefits, he expected to be shown the same love when he was in need as his Ponzi scheme crumbled. He thought these current NFL stars would help a "friend" in need, only to find out there were no friends, only a bunch of guys who had their hands out while in college. This is similar to what Jose Canseco did when he was blackballed from Major League Baseball, then ratted out his former friends when he went down for steroids. Don't get me wrong though, Shapiro shares just as much, if not more blame than the players for this mess. He's the one tha started handing out money, Heat tickets and free televisions.
Auburn had Ohio State to thank for taking the Cam Newton saga away form the national spotlight, but Ohio State has the most to be thankful for this fall, as all eyes turn to Miami. Will it still be "All About The U?" Will Sport Illustrated reprint this cover from 20 years ago?