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At Miami, there’s 1 big question: ‘How?’
Question of the Day
CORAL GABLES, FLA. (AP) - A sports bar is packed with Hurricanes boosters, most of whom are wearing their team’s orange and green colors. They spontaneously break into chanting their unofficial anthem, “It’s great … to be … a Mi-a-mi Hurr-i-cane!”
As they sing, the sight of Nevin Shapiro running into an Orange Bowl end zone and getting chased off by a security guard pops onto nearby televisions.
Groans rise from the crowd.
For Miami football and its fans, there’s just no getting away from The Scandal. The sports bar scene happened at a long-scheduled gathering in Palm Beach County, where Hurricanes fans tried generating enthusiasm for the new season. A few days ago, that would have been easy. Considering this get-together came two days after Yahoo Sports published its report that Shapiro _ the mastermind of a $930 million Ponzi scheme _ provided money, sex, cars and gifts to 72 players over a nine-year period ending in 2010, it’s nearly impossible.
The NCAA is investigating what happened. There’s plenty to sift through. How did this happen? Who let this happen? Why did Shapiro have such access? Did anyone check his background? And perhaps most important, how did these secrets, if true, remain secrets for so many years?
Simple questions, lacking simple answers.
“It was one guy with a lot of money,” said former Miami quarterback Steve Walsh, who led the Hurricanes to the 1987 national title and is now a high school coach in West Palm Beach, Fla. “And it wasn’t his, so he was going to spend it freely. That’s the other part of it. It’s so difficult for an athlete. If some guy wants to buy you drinks, ‘Sure!’ You’re not going to say, ‘Who are you?’ And now the guy’s sitting in prison. In there, he can allege all he wants.”
Shapiro is serving a 20-year sentence for his crimes, with federal officials saying he is scheduled to be released in 2027. He already is serving his penalty. It could be months before Miami knows what penalty, if any, it will face for having a rogue booster first try to befriend, then bring down, dozens of Hurricanes over the span of nearly a decade.
The current Hurricanes implicated by Shapiro in the Yahoo Sports story are quarterback Jacory Harris, safeties Vaughn Telemaque and Ray Ray Armstrong, receivers Travis Benjamin and Aldarius Johnson, defensive linemen Marcus Forston, Olivier Vernon, Marcus Robinson and Adewale Ojomo, tight end Dyron Dye, defensive back JoJo Nicholas and linebacker Sean Spence.
They have not spoken publicly about the matter. Their teammates who are talking say they don’t have the answer to that fundamental question _ “How?” _ either.
“It came out of nowhere,” center Tyler Horn said. “I can’t control it. And if I can’t control it, there’s no need to be worrying about it.”
Miami’s Hurricane Club has nine levels of giving, and each step up the ladder means better gifts and greater access to the athletic department. The top levels ($30,000 or more) provide just about anything a fan would want _ sideline passes, VIP passes, exclusive reception invitations, even interacting with a student-athlete.
Shapiro promised plenty, including a $150,000 pledge for a student-athlete lounge that was supposed to bear his name. He made other donations as well, including $50,000 to men’s basketball.
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