Friday, August 19, 2011

University of Miami Scandal

The University of Miami scandal that broke this week on Yahoo! Sports is the latest in a rough stretch for major college football programs.  Recently we've had the Reggie Bush/O.J. Mayo scandal at USC and Tattoo-parlor-gate at Ohio State.  But the violations in those two cases pale in comparison to what has been going on at The U. 

A lot of people have been comparing the the Miami allegations with what went on at SMU during the 1980s which resulted in SMU receiving the death-penalty and not playing football for 2 years.  I went and compared the two cases to see if the Miami case warranted the same level of punishment as SMU.

While SMU's scandal has been chronicled in detail, the Miami allegations are just allegations from the booster involved.  However, the story linked above is sourced very well and most of the booster's claims have been corroborated by witnesses or financial records.

Here's the breakdown:

What does it all boil down to?

  • SMU - Coming off of 5 probations from 1974-1985, it was determined that SMU boosters had created a slush fund to entice recruits as well as pay some of them monthly stipends that ranged from $50-$725.  The slush fund was financed by boosters, some of whom had been previously banned from the athletics department.  The athletic director, head coach, recruiting coordinator and Board of Governors Chair (who went on to become Governor of Texas) knew of the slush fund.
  • Miami - One booster, Nevin Shapiro, provided thousands of dollars worth of cash and gifts (in a variety of ways) to football and basketball players.  Assistant football and assistant basketball coaches had direct knowledge of some of these transactions.  Miami's head of compliance even looked into Shapiro, found out some improprieties, but did nothing about them.
How did the allegations come about?

  • SMU - After a tip to WFAA-TV, David Stanley, a former SMU player who was kicked off the team, was tracked down and revealed that he had been paid $25,000 to sign with SMU, and continued to be paid monthly while playing.  Some of the payments were made after SMU was placed on its latest probabtion in 1985.
  • Miami - Shapiro, while being investigated for his role in a Ponzi scheme, revealed his involvment with the Miami Hurricanes athletic program.  He decided to tell all because after all he had provided the players while they were in school, none of them would help him financially after he was arrested.  I'm assuming that since his fortune was based on a Ponzi scheme, he was broke after being caught.  He was asking players for something as simple as bail money, but none of them would help.  To spite them, he started talking to Yahoo! Sports.
  • The moral - Don't upset the person who participated in your school's cheating.

  • SMU - The slush fund was determined to have been in place from the mid-70s.  The NCAA investigation found that from 1985-1986, 13 players had been paid $61,000.  In addition, an apartment was provided rent-free to Tight End Albert Reese.  The apartment was funded by a booster that had been banned from the athletic department.  After SMU was placed on probation in 1985, Bill Clements, the Chairman of the school's Board of Governors and Bob Hitch, the athletic director considered ending the slush fund.  But they felt duty-bound to continue to provide the promised payments.  When confronted about why he wasn't more truthful sooner, Clements, soon to be Texas Governor, stated that "there wasn't a Bible in the room."  And you thought Rick Perry was crooked.
  • Miami - Where do we get started.  Lets run down the list, shall we?
    • Entertaining recruits at his home, yacht, night clubs, and strip clubs
    • Entertaining AAU coaches at night clubs
    • Giving one recruit $10,000 cash
    • Arranging prostitutes to meet up with players.  Sometimes this would be one-on-one in a hotel.  Sometimes he would rent several hotel rooms and have parties where prostitutes were available.  Sometimes these one-on-one sessions and parties would occur on his yacht.
    • Cash bounties to hurt opposing players, including Chris Rix and (don't say it!!!!!) Tim Tebow
    • Cash tournaments for players for things like fishing, bowling, and pool
    • Jewelry/clothing/accessories/etc. - Included in this list is an engagement ring for Devin Hester.  Or for Devin Hester's fiance.  You know what I mean.
    • The ability for players to come and go as they please at his two multi-million dollar houses and his yacht.
    • Hosting players at VIP sections in night clubs and strip clubs
    • Paying for apartments and allowing players to stay at his house
    • Being part-owner of a sports agency that he would funnel players to as they approached the draft.  One player signed with the agency because Shapiro had provided this player $50,000 in cash during the player's junior season.
    • And last, but not least....he paid for an abortion for an exotic dancer that became pregnant by a player.  Yes, he did.
  • Edge - Miami.  SMU basically amounted to paying (a lot of) cash to a few players.  SMU's big problem was that they kept doing this after being countlessly warned.  Shapiro, on the other hand, was out of control.  Based on the story, he never said no.  And seriously.  He paid for an abortion?
Who were the main people involved?

  • SMU
    • Athletic Director
    • Head Coach
    • Recruiting Coordinator
    • Chairman of the SMU Board of Governors
    • Many boosters, included some that were already banned
  • Miami
    • One booster
    • Three assistant football coaches
    • Three assistant basketball coaches
    • Other lower level equipment managers
    • David Reed, UM's head of compliance - This could cause the biggest trouble for Miami.  During halftime of a blowout loss to Virginia at the 2007 Orange Bowl, Reed was confronted by an inebriated Shapiro, who proceeded to rant against Reed and challenge him to a fight.  Shapiro felt that Reed was too strict in his oversight of booster-athlete relations.  This confrontation led Reed to do a background check into Shapiro.  Reed's eyes were raised when he learned that Shapiro owned a stake in a sports agency.  However, Shapiro was assured through another athletic department employee that there was nothing to be worried about.
    • Donna Shalala- The President of the school.  There's a silly picture of her smiling at a $50,000 check presented by Shapiro, but I think she's insulated from this.  I think she could just say that she knew he was a big-time booster for the school, but was not aware of everything else that was going on.  But...
    • Basically anyone who was paying attention should have seen what was up.  Shapiro and the players did not hide what they were doing.  They were attending the hottest nightclubs in Miami.  It should not have been hard to see what was going on.
  • Edge - Gotta give it to SMU.  There was a lot going on at Miami, but the head coaches were not mentioned in the story.  SMU's story involved the head football coach, athletic director, recruiting coordinator and THE FUTURE GOVERNOR OF TEXAS!
  • One other thing - I didn't mention the players in these lists.  Of course they were in the wrong.  But they just happened to be the ones there to take advantage of the situation.  Here was a rich dude that was giving them everything they asked for.  If the entire Miami roster had been traded for the entire Florida roster, Shapiro still would have found players that wanted to be taken to clubs and meet girls.
What's my verdict?

So Miami's violations were worse, but SMU had the more incriminating list of suspects.  I think the fact that (as far as we know) Miami's actions were because of one renegade booster and some assitant coaches that their scandal is not as bad as SMU's.  If it turns out that people higher up in the athletic department and school administration knew about things, then I think it would be right to discuss the death penalty.  But they still need to be punished.  Probably more severely than what USC got.  And they need much more oversight into their programs.

I could certainly be wrong.  If you think so, let me know.


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