UPDATE: 7:40 p.m. ET: Via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Brian London: "The university released the following statement reacting to a Yahoo Sports story alleging extra benefits provided by former booster Nevin Shapiro: 'As stated [Tuesday] morning, the University of Miami takes any allegations seriously, and will continue to cooperate fully in a joint investigation with the NCAA.'"
A former University of Miami booster has admitted that he provided thousands of impermissible benefits to at least 72 athletes for an eight-year period beginning in 2002, Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson reported Tuesday, including former and current NFL players.
Nevin Shapiro, who is now incarcerated for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme, provided Yahoo! Sports more than 100 hours of behind-bars interviews over an 11-month period.
According to Robinson, "Shapiro described a sustained, eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking, some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs. 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."
|Miami Hurricanes Scandal|
Robinson writes that in order to substantiate Shapiro's claims, Yahoo! Sports "audited approximately 20,000 pages of financial and business records from his bankruptcy case, more than 5,000 pages of cell phone records, multiple interview summaries tied to his federal Ponzi case, and more than 1,000 photos. Nearly 100 interviews were also conducted with individuals living in six different states. In the process, documents, photos and 21 human sources – including nine former Miami players or recruits, and one former coach – corroborated multiple parts of Shapiro’s rule-breaking."
The wide-ranging report identifies many former Hurricanes now playing in the NFL. According to Shapiro, Jonathan Vilma "tried to kill" then-Florida State QB Chris Rix in an effort to earn a $5,000 bounty. Tavares Gooden and Antrel Rolle allegedly received watches as gifts, Devin Hester received an engagement ring, and Shapiro spent "thousands of dollars on clothing" for Hester, Gooden and Willis McGahee.
Robinson reports that Shapiro bought plane tickets for two of McGahee's friends to attend the 2002 Heisman Trophy ceremony, and flew DJ Williams' mother from California to Miami to spend time with her son and meet Shapiro's partner at the sports agency he co-owned, Michael Huyghue, who is currently the UFL commissioner.
Shapiro explained to Yahoo! Sports that he is now coming forward primarily because of "his feeling that after spending eight years forging what he thought were legitimate friendships with players, he was abandoned by many of the same Miami athletes he treated so well."
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