Former Miami booster tells Yahoo! he gave benefits

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Nevin Shapiro, a former Miami booster who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme, has told Yahoo! Sports he provided impermissible benefits to 72 of the university’s football players and other athletes between 2002 and 2010.

Shapiro said he gave money, cars, yacht trips, jewelry, televisions and other gifts to a list of players including Vince Wilfork, Jon Beason, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester, Willis McGahee and the late Sean Taylor. Shapiro also claimed he paid for nightclub outings, sex parties, restaurant meals and in one case, an abortion for a woman impregnated by a player. One former Miami player, running back Tyrone Moss, told Yahoo! Sports he accepted $1,000 from Shapiro around the time he was entering college.

“Hell yeah, I recruited a lot of kids for Miami,” Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports. “With access to the clubs, access to the strip joints. My house. My boat. We’re talking about high school football players. Not anybody can just get into the clubs or strip joints. Who is going to pay for it and make it happen? That was me.”

Shapiro has said multiple times in the past year, including in the Yahoo! Sports story posted Tuesday, that he is angry with several of the players he claims to have helped when they were Hurricanes. Miami officials began cooperating with NCAA investigators not long after Shapiro made claims about his involvement with players last year. University president Donna Shalala and athletic director Shawn Eichorst were questioned by the NCAA this week.

“I can tell you what I think is going to happen,” Shapiro told Miami television station WFOR from federal prison in Atlanta. “Death penalty.”

Yahoo! Sports says it spent 100 hours interviewing Shapiro over the span of 11 months and audited thousands of pages financial and business records to try and substantiate his claims.

Shapiro was sentenced in June after he admitted to securities fraud and money laundering. He was also ordered to pay more than $82 million in restitution to his victims.

Many current Miami players were also named by Shapiro as receiving benefits, Yahoo! Sports reported, including quarterback Jacory Harris, Ray Ray Armstrong, Travis Benjamin, Sean Spence, Marcus Forston, Vaughn Telemaque, Dyron Dye, Aldarius Johnson and Olivier Vernon. Former Miami quarterback Robert Marve, now at Purdue, was also named by Shapiro, Yahoo! Sports said.

The story cited specifics involving only Armstrong, Dye and Vernon, alleging they received extra benefits as recruits. Shapiro said he worked in concert with several former Miami assistant coaches during the recruiting process.

“It was me and some other players with my incoming (class). I’m not going to say the names but you can probably figure them out yourself,” Moss told Yahoo! Sports. “When I was getting there my freshman year, it was me and a couple more players. It was me and a few more of the guys in my incoming class that he kind of showed some love to.”

Miami coach Al Golden, who was hired in December, acknowledged Tuesday that some of his players may have made mistakes.

“We’ll stay focused. I’m certain of that,” Golden said. “We’re disappointed but we’re not discouraged. And again, there’s going to be a life lesson here. We’re talking about allegations from a man that’s behind bars, now. If these do hold some truth, then we’ll deal with them. There’s no other way to do it.”

Current Miami players were not made available to comment Tuesday, and will not be made available before Wednesday’s practice, the university said.

Shapiro’s relationship with the program dates back about a decade. Some of the alleged incidents occurred in the past four years, which would be within the NCAA’s statute of limitations regarding violations.

Miami officials said that when Shapiro first made his allegations nearly a year ago, he and his attorneys refused to provide any facts to the school.

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