- Associated Press - Friday, August 19, 2011

CORAL GABLES, FLA. (AP) - Miami athletic director Shawn Eichorst issued a four-paragraph statement about the messy state of things surrounding the Hurricanes, closing his message by saying “there will be a better day.”

He did not say when.

That’s one of many questions lacking answers in this scandal.

Eichorst and some players ended their silence Thursday, speaking out for the first time publicly since convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro’s claims of providing cash, prostitutes and other gifts to Miami players for nearly a decade were published by Yahoo Sports. And those messages came as Shapiro’s attorney defended her client’s accusations that he bankrolled a wild lifestyle for Hurricane players.


“There are tough times ahead, challenges to overcome and serious decisions to be made, but we will be left standing and we will be stronger as a result,” Eichorst wrote. “I understand there are unanswered questions, concerns and frustration by many but this Athletic Department will be defined now and in the future, by our core values, our integrity and our commitment to excellence, and by nothing else.”

In perhaps an ironic twist, Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez _ a University of Miami graduate _ said she agrees that the Hurricanes will be “left standing” when this process ends.

“I think there will be a football program after this,” Perez said. “If they shut down this football program, too many people will lose too much money.”

But Perez said the allegations were not made up and speculated more could be triggered by Shapiro’s story. The attorney said Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme, is aware of the fallout from his story and suggested more allegations may still be coming.

“I believe inevitably there will be more,” Perez said. “Whether that comes from Nevin or from outside sources who have additional information about this, I can’t tell you. But I believe that there will be more.”

The Hurricanes went through two practices Thursday, and coach Al Golden _ clearly weary of fielding questions on the NCAA investigation _ said he’s hoping their focus is on football and nothing else.

Late Thursday night, team officials announced that Golden would not speak to reporters Friday, but center Tyler Horn and running back Mike James would be able to field questions.

Choosing Horn and James to take the first questions posed to players since the scandal broke was not coincidental. Not only are they among the more loquacious Hurricanes, but neither is among the current players implicated by what Shapiro told Yahoo Sports.

Though Golden said his team decided on its own to limit usage of social media such as Facebook and Twitter during training camp, some Miami players felt Thursday was the right time to speak out.

Defensive back Brandon McGee tweeted before the morning practice, “Know this for sure everyone hurts! We all feel pain!” Between sessions, running back Mike James wrote “You have to appreciate the process and accept the struggle.”

Two of the current players implicated in the Shapiro scandal _ quarterback Jacory Harris and defensive back JoJo Nicholas _ were not in uniform Thursday morning, for reasons that school officials said didn’t involve the investigation. Harris was on the field in shorts and a T-shirt, whistle dangling from his neck, serving as a player coach for the morning. Golden has used several players in that role in recent days.

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