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At Miami, there’s 1 big question: ‘How?’
Question of the Day
Things like that endeared him to Miami, a private school of more than 9,000 undergraduates and an endowment in the neighborhood of $600 million, although the athletic department has long said it lacks the deep pockets of many schools it competes against. Shapiro became a highly valued donor. When he wanted something like seeing practice, typically someone would at least listen.
“The way it would work is, someone from the Hurricane Club or whatever would walk him to the field and tell the security guards and the coaches who he was and why he was there,” said an athletic department employee, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigations by both the NCAA and the university. “It didn’t happen a lot. One day, I was out there and saw the guy trying to get into a huddle. Never saw that before by anyone.”
That incident happened while Larry Coker coached the Hurricanes.
When asked about Shapiro on Friday, Coker told The Associated Press he knew about the former booster during his time at Miami but never interacted with him. He didn’t elaborate further.
“He’s a bad person,” Coker said.
Coker’s successor had the same sentiment.
When Randy Shannon took over as coach, Shapiro’s access to practice stopped. Shannon played at Miami in the 1980s and told confidants that he had seen people like Shapiro around the program before, warning assistant coaches that if he ever learned they interacted with the booster, he would fire them personally.
“Randy told everyone, players and coaches,” said a former football assistant coach, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he expects to be interviewed by the NCAA. “Deal with him at your own risk. He told me personally, ‘The guy’s poison. Bad news. Trouble.’ And we listened. So then the guy started trying to reach out to players directly more and more. They would come to us and complain that they’d go bowling and he’d show up. It was a running joke around here. We’d ask, ‘See your stalker last night?’”
Shannon, who was fired by Miami in November, declined comment when reached by The Associated Press. Another member of his staff, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Shannon was not an ally of Shapiro.
“Randy hated the guy,” the second coach said.
But, according to Shapiro, some players hung out with him anyway _ a thrill for someone who has described himself as a lifelong Hurricanes fan. He was even featured in 1992 by The Miami Herald, which detailed his antics as he sat in the stands watching Miami play rival Florida State in a particularly close game not decided until the final moments. He screamed, “We are the gods of college football!”
Whether he still feels that way is anyone’s guess. This much is clear: He’s gone from fan to pariah in a hurry.
“We’ve overcome many, many obstacles over the years,” said former Miami player and longtime radio analyst Don Bailey Jr. “And we’ve proved five times, when people tell us something is impossible, it’s only their opinion.”
Until the scandal broke Tuesday, when Shapiro’s accusations were detailed by Yahoo Sports, some around the Hurricanes never knew who the short, brash, aggressive man was. Others knew his name, but didn’t know what he looked like until seeing images and videos that popped up in recent days. Many players denied knowing him whatsoever, even after they were accused by Shapiro of taking his money and gifts.
“I don’t know about everybody else. I can only speak for myself,” said one of those implicated, Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson. “I don’t really know what it is he alluded to.”
Pretending to be what they're not only goes so far for politicians
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