Continued from page 3

“We all thought he was spending his father’s money at first,” said the Miami athletic department employee, referring to Shapiro. “That’s what he said.”

Shapiro had a yacht, a multimillion-dollar home, fancy cars, jewelry, all the toys suggesting success. He sat courtside at Miami Heat games, even getting to be around Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade in some social situations.

That, too, seemed to all be a facade. Shapiro promised to buy more than $700,000 worth of tickets from the Heat. He never paid.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Wade said when asked about the Miami situation and Shapiro’s involvement with the Hurricanes. “I wish the best for Miami. I’m a big supporter of the university.”

Wade said nothing surprises him anymore when it comes to scandals, and Jack Hulse would agree.

Hulse, who now lives in Indiana and still lists a second address in Sarasota, Fla., lost nearly $500,000 in Shapiro’s scheme, thinking he invested in a grocery-distribution business. Instead, federal prosecutors said Hulse’s money _ and tens of millions more, including about $1 million from former Wisconsin football coach Barry Alvarez (a close friend of Miami President Donna Shalala) and his family _ went toward paying off at least $5 million in illegal gambling debts and a lavish lifestyle filled with excess.

Nevin Shapiro used other people’s money to live a fantasy life built on false promises to unsuspecting victims,” said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.

Hulse could not agree more.

“I met him one time at a birthday party,” Hulse said. “He just kind of seemed like he was full of himself. Somebody pulled me in and introduced me and that was basically it. He introduced himself and he wasn’t somebody I would be particularly thrilled to be around. A little cocky guy.”

Hulse doesn’t expect to ever recover his money through the forced bankruptcy proceedings, or the court order that Shapiro repay his victims nearly $83 million.

“Pennies on the dollar,” Hulse said. “If that.”

___

At the booster event, Walsh grabs the microphone and starts telling a story about the end of the 1985 season.

It’s a few days before the Sugar Bowl, and he and some Miami teammates are in a New Orleans bar. Someone offered to buy the Hurricanes some drinks and they accepted, never thinking twice about checking out who the man was.

“We didn’t care,” Walsh says. These were the big, bad Jimmy Johnson Hurricanes, after all. A team full of swagger that had just closed the regular season by embarrassing Notre Dame 58-7 and was beginning a run of what would become an NCAA-record 58 straight wins at home.

Story Continues →