- Associated Press - Friday, August 19, 2011

CORAL GABLES, FLA. (AP) - Two Miami players said Friday they were trying to focus on the coming season and not possible sanctions after a dozen teammates were implicated in a scandal that could alter the future of Hurricanes football.

Center Tyler Horn and running back Mike James were the first Miami players to meet reporters since convicted Ponzi-scheme architect and former university booster Nevin Shapiro claimed he provided money, prostitutes, cars and gifts to some current and former Hurricanes in a story Yahoo Sports published Tuesday.

The NCAA has been investigating Miami for five months, and the school is bracing for the possibility of stiff penalties at some point.

“Well, of course, it was a shock to hear those allegations,” Horn said. “But we’re focused on football. That’s all we can focus on. That’s all we can control.”

Miami’s decision to allow Horn and James to take the first questions posed to players since the scandal broke was not entirely coincidental. Not only are they among the most expressive Hurricanes, but neither is among the current players implicated in the report.

“Life is easy regardless,” James said. “We just know we don’t pay attention to outside things. We just focus on us, and that’s about it.”

Horn and James were the only two speakers before Miami’s practice Friday morning. Coach Al Golden opted to take a day off from briefing reporters, clearly weary of discussing the scandal. Golden was not implicated in the story, since all the events Shapiro detailed to Yahoo Sports allegedly took place between 2002 and 2010. Golden was hired in December, months after Shapiro was placed into custody for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

Larry Coker, now the coach at Texas-San Antonio, was coaching the Hurricanes when Shapiro first became a booster at Miami. Coker said Friday he was “distraught” over the situation and he was not involved in what Shapiro alleges.

“It’s really very hurtful,” Coker said. “It really is. I’ll be quite honest about that.”

The scandal broke just days after NCAA President Mark Emmert led a group of university presidents _ including Miami’s Donna Shalala _ in drafting an outline for change in college sports.

“She’s been a terrific leader in higher education, and I have great respect for her,” Emmert told The Associated Press on Friday. “I can only imagine how much she’s struggling with this, like I would have been if this had happened on my watch.”

Shalala released a statement earlier this week, as did Miami athletic director Shawn Eichorst, but neither has fielded questions on the ongoing investigations. In an interview that was posted online Friday by Miami’s student newspaper, The Miami Hurricane, Shalala said she plans to remain at the school “for a long time.”

Shapiro is serving a 20-year prison sentence. He has also been ordered to pay more than $82 million to bilked investors. He was in the midst of being transported by federal officials from Atlanta to a still-undisclosed final destination _ possibly South Florida _ on Friday, according to his attorney, Maria Elena Perez.

Neither Horn nor James would say if they spoke to any of the current players who were implicated by Shapiro about the scandal. Shapiro claims he threw lavish parties at his home and on his yacht, provided cash to recruits and paid for 39 players to have sex with prostitutes. Among those named by Shapiro include NFL stars Jon Beason, Frank Gore, Devin Hester, Andre Johnson, Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle, Jon Vilma and Vince Wilfork.

Most of the NFL players named in the story have either declined comment or denied the claims made by Shapiro.

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