ESPN: So is there another team, another organization, another sport that should be nervous right now because you’re working on something comparable? Robinson: Yeah [laughs], we’ve still got a couple more coming.[several moments of back-and-forth banter] Robinson: I’ve got probably a six to a seven, maybe an eight depending on where you live coming in the next two weeks, and then by August, a ten. ESPN: Well, what would you consider the Tressel story, on a one to ten? Robinson: Probably an eight. ESPN: So there’s something even bigger than that coming in the summertime? Robinson: Yeah. Yeah. There’s one I’ve been working on since, I don’t know, I’m probably entering my fourth month on it, and we’ll probably get a good six, seven months more in on it before I’m done.
Today, the “ten” fell- an eleven month investigation into alleged improprieties at the University of Miami, specifically at the hands a former booster and donor who is currently serving time for his involvement in a $930 mission Ponzi scheme.
At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and, on one occasion, an abortion.
Or, if you’re the type that prefers their news from audio/video sources, there’s this:
To be completely fair, Buckeye Nation would be excused for having a mixed reaction to this report- it certainly puts the Tattoo-Gate and Tressel scandals in a much different light (although “wrong” is “wrong”), and it’s good to have something else in the news to take away the four letter network’s interest in rehashing the Ohio State story.
That being said, there is a saying about glass houses that comes somewhat to mind, and it is important to remember that allegations in the media do not mean truth. I’m sure Miami fans (all six of them) would appreciate the benefit of the doubt that Ohio State didn’t receive as this investigation continues.
But any college football fan should be interested in reading through this expansive work, and should remember that Yahoo!’s “8″ (Tressel) and “6″ (Oregon) were pretty spot on.
With the details still being confirmed (Shapiro has been working with the NCAA as well as with Yahoo!), there are several things that stood out to me about this story/situation:
There’s a ton of information in this report; as it should be- Charles Robinson and the Yahoo! team spent, in his words,11 months and over 100 hours interviewing Shapiro in his cell, with additional research through 20.00 pages of finanacial records, 5,000 pages of cell phone records, over 1,000 photos. and around 100 interviews with other folks to attempt to verify Shapiro’s testimony.
That seems to be the exact opposite of the work that George Dorhmann’s famous article was based upon- This work is checked and double checked, and allegations are examined through multiple sources. There’s no “Ellis”, no mention of an allegedly rigged raffle, no rehashed story that was mostly refuted in it’s initial offering. If what Dorhmann did was “investigative journalism”, then this is Moses descending from Mt. Sinai.
This situation is not just limited to South Beach- student athletes who chose to attend other institutions are also mentioned, including 2009 super star Bryce Brown.
Not mentioned is current Hurricane Seantrel Henderson, currently nursing a back injury and likely out for the 2011 season. However, given that his final three were Ohio State, USC (where he left to avoid scandal) and Miami, you’ve got to wonder if this young man is somehow cursed.
The ripples don’t stop there, though; when asked why he never tried to “buy” recruits and have them come to Miami, Robinson writes
While there may not be many boosters with such an over-the-top story, Shapiro knows he wasn’t the only fan doling out the under-the-table money. Maybe most damning for the sport is the fact that while he took care of current players, he says Miami coaches never asked him to buy a football recruit. Mainly because they felt it was fruitless.
“Miami is not the school where payouts are made to prospective student athletes,” Shapiro said. “Miami is a private institution, it’s in a transient city. We didn’t have the money to pay recruits. There is so much more money in big public universities. In the SEC, the money is an endless river.
It will be interesting to see if Miami chooses to sit players until the investigation is cleared, to avoid playing ones that may be ineligible (similar to the Ohio State situation). Of the current Hurricanes mentioned, 12 are projected starters- Ray-Ray Armstrong, Travis Benjamin, Marcus Forston, Jacory Harris, JoJo Nicolas, Adewale Ojomo, Sean Spence, Vaughn Telemaque, and Olivier Vernon.
Speaking of the four letter network, it’s interesting to note that they waited a significant time before posting any sort of report on this story after it broke. Instead, they had an Associated Press story that referred to “possible” issues that “may” have happened. I wonder why they might be a bit late in covering this (the way they were late in covering the Oregon and USC stories when Yahoo! broke them, but seemed to show SEC speed when the OSU story broke)? Any particular reason? And you can’t think that they had no idea that this type of behavior might be occurring; heck, they even profited from it:
We’ll continue to follow this story as it develops; as you can imagine, this will take more than a few months for the NCAA to sort out.