Screwed

Report: Coaches, ‘millions of dollars’ part of Miami allegations

54 Comments

Forget the Ohio State mess, the North Carolina debacle, or the USC imbroglio; that’s penny-ante stuff compared to what’s being alleged occurred between 2001 and 2009 in a program-shaking new piece published by the Yahoo! investigative pitbull Charles Robinson.

Following an 11-month investigation by Robinson, it’s being reported that former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro — you know, this guy — is alleging “he provided thousands of impermissible benefits to at least 72 athletes” during an eight-year-period beginning in 2001.  In the latest report, it’s claimed Shapiro spent what he estimated as “millions of dollars”, with the benefits ranging from “cash, prostitutes, entertainment in [Shapiro’s] 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.”

Unbelievably, those aren’t even the most damning accusations uncovered by Robinson through 100 hours of jailhouse interviews with Shapiro, a convicted felon.  Shapiro alleges that at least three football coaches — Clint Hurtt, Jeff Stoutland and Aubrey Hill — as well as three members of the football support staff had direct knowledge or participated in the violating of NCAA rules. Additionally, Yahoo! is reporting independent of Shapiro that former football assistant Joe Pannunzio was also involved; Shapiro refused to discuss his relationship with Pannunzio.

It should be noted that none of the coaches mentioned in the article are on first-year head coach Al Golden‘s staff; Stoutland and Pannunzio are part of Nick Saban‘s program at Alabama, Hill is a member of Will Muschamp‘s new Florida staff and Hurtt’s at Louisville on former UF defensive coordinator Charlie Strong‘s Cardinals staff.

Among the allegations Shapiro makes involving former members of the coaching staff  includes:

  • Hurtt, Hill, Stoutland and Pannunzio delivered football recruits to Shapiro’s multi-million dollar home, allowing the booster to make recruiting pitches to the prospective players.
  • Shapiro stated that he took high school recruits on his yacht as well as to strip clubs at the behest of the coaches, paying for services rendered at the latter establishment.
  • Coaches took part in strip club visits with Shapiro and Hurricane football players.

In addition to the allegations involving coaches playing active roles in major violations, Shapiro was also the co-owner of Axcess Sports & Entertainment, a sports representation agency.  Shapiro claims the agency — Shapiro’s partner was Michael Huyghue, currently the commissioner of the UFL — funneled money to former Miami players Vince Wilfork and Jon Beason, as well as dozens of other unnamed players.  Wilfork, Shapiro claimed, was paid a lump sum of $50,000 while he was a Miami player as an inducement to sign with Axcess; Wilfork ultimately signed with the agency before becoming a first-round pick in the NFL draft.

Just as damaging as the above claims are to the program is the fact that Shapiro alleges a dozen unnamed, current members of the football roster were the alleged beneficiaries of Shapiro’s financial benevolence, which ended in April of 2009 after he was arrested for defrauding dozens of individuals out of over $80 million in a Ponzi scheme.  Shapiro claims he was just grabbing the financial assistance baton from Luther Campbell, the rapper who was a big-time booster of the university before the school distanced themselves from him.

“Here’s the thing: Luther Campbell was the first uncle who took care of players before I got going,” Shapiro told Yahoo!. “His role was diminished by the NCAA and the school, and someone needed to pick up that mantle. That someone was me. He was ‘Uncle Luke’, and I became ‘Little Luke.’

“I became a booster in late 2001, and by early 2002, I was giving kids gifts. From the start, I wasn’t really challenged. And once I got going, it just got bigger and bigger. I just did what I wanted and didn’t pay much mind toward the potential repercussions.”

Shapiro was also asked why he did what he did, when he knew what he was doing could potentially place a football program he claimed to love dearly squarely in the NCAA crosshairs and in line for what could be significant sanctions.

“I did it because I could,” he said. “And because nobody stepped in to stop me.”

Among the things Shapiro claimed he did because he could included:

  • Putting up bounties of $5,000 for any Hurricane who could knock players like former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow out of games.
  • 39 Hurricane football players were on the receiving end of prostitutes paid for by Shapiro.  Shapiro initially set the players up in hotel rooms before moving the “encounters” to his yacht.
  • Provided plane tickets, jewelry, electronics and clothing to myriad players.
  • Allow players to take his $1.6 million yacht out on fishing trips and other excursions.  The boat was fully stocked with food and alcohol for the players.  Shapiro claimed it cost $2,000 to fill the boat up with fuel for the trips.
  • Paid for a stripper to have an abortion after she claimed an unnamed player had gotten her pregnant during an encounter.

There are myriad other claims, accusations and allegations made by Shapiro, but they are too lengthy to mention.  Thus, we’d strongly, strongly urge you to click HERE to read the entire expose because it is truly riveting stuff that would likely make SMU of the eighties blush.

Robinson utilized a laundry list of sources and financial documentation — some of which Shapiro has already turned over to the NCAA — to corroborate Shapiro’s claims, which the Yahoo! reporter laid out in great detail.

In an effort to substantiate the booster’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.

NCAA investigators have been in Miami since Monday digging for answers to questions Shapiro’s claims have raised.  It’s unclear how long The Association will remain on campus.

In light of Robinson’s report and Shapiro’s accusations, it could be a substantial period of time.

UPDATED 8:21 p.m. ET: the 12 current players who Shapiro claims received impermissible benefits have indeed been named.  The names appear below; click on the name to go to the Yahoo! player page, which lays out the specific allegations made by Shapiro regarding that specific player.

Safety Ray-Ray Armstrong
Wide receiver Travis Benjamin
Defensive end Dyron Dye
Defensive tackle Marcus Forston
Quarterback Jacory Harris
Wide receiver Aldarius Johnson
Safety JoJo Nicolas
Defensive end Adewale Ojomo
Defensive end Marcus Robinson
Linebacker Sean Spence
Safety Vaughn Telemaque
Defensive end Olivier Vernon

Eight of those 12 players are listed as either starters or co-starters on the most recent depth chart.  It’s unclear what impact this report and the investigations being conducted by the NCAA and the school will have on their eligibility for the beginning of the 2011 season an beyond.

USC AD Pat Haden released from hospital following undisclosed procedure

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 03: 
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden speaks at a press conference introducing Steve Sarkisian as the new USC  head football coach at the John McKay Center at the University of Southern California on December 3, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

USC athletics director Pat Haden was released from a Los Angeles hospital Saturday following an undisclosed procedure.

Haden shared the news on his Twitter account.

Haden was hospitalized Wednesday after falling while walking back to Heritage Hall after an on-campus meeting. He was taken away from the first hospital to a second on Wednesday evening, where he underwent an undisclosed procedure according to the Los Angeles Times.

Haden took over as USC’s athletics director in 2010 and has remained in the news for the wrong reasons since, from the airport firing of Lane Kiffin to the Steve Sarkisian saga, including confronting an official during a game against Stanford in 2014, for which he was fined by the Pac-12. He had another episode requiring medical attention on the sideline at Notre Dame this October, and resigned from the College Football Playoff selection committee two weeks later.

The former Trojan quarterback announced last week he will step down as USC’s athletics director this summer.

Emails detail Cincinnati’s effort to join Big 12

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 12:  A cheerleader of the Cincinnati Bearcats waves a flag during the game against the Toledo Rockets at Paul Brown Stadium on September 12, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Getty Images
4 Comments

It’s no secret that if there was an obvious choice for expansion, the Big 12 would have expanded by now. But, in spite of that, Cincinnati is working to convince the 10 member schools — or, perhaps, the remaining five or six it needs to win over — that it is the obvious candidate.

The Cincinnati Enquirer on Sunday published emails detailing Cincinnati’s ground-roots, back-room campaign to join the Big 12, far led  by UC president Santa Ono with some strategic help along the way. The emails show Ono and UC have an ally in Oklahoma president David Boren, who wrote after meeting Ono at a Washington, D.C., function nearly a year ago today, “You are truly an outstanding leader and knowing that you are at the helm in Cincinnati makes me even more inclined to support your cause.” Boren is joined by West Virginia president Gordon Gee, a known hawk on expansion, and Baylor president Ken Starr on the Big 12’s expansion committee.

Ono also met privately with former Kansas State president Jon Wefald, who provided the UC president with bad information. “The only way I see to get Cincinnati into the Big 12 is this: that UC and the 2nd school would have to volunteer to take the financial haircut yourselves. Why? Because the three major networks will never add enough monies to allow the next two schools to have the same revenues as the 10 to (sic) now,” he wrote. “The emphasis of UC right now should be this: Get into the Big 12 and worry about equal revenues later. So get in now and tell the other 10 universities that you and the second school will take the haircut.”

This is incorrect, which turns out to be a bullet point in Cincinnati’s favor.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby confirmed last summer the league’s contracts with ESPN and FOX would expand with the conference’s membership.

Jason Kirk of SB Nation did a back-of-the-envelope estimation that concluded adding two schools would cost the remaining 10 schools between $1.5 and $2 million annually in College Football Playoff, NCAA and bowl payouts, but that’s before adding in the likelihoods of additional bowl and NCAA payouts that come with an expanded roster, plus the fact that the Big 12 would now have a conference championship game to sell to TV networks. In short, Cincinnati and another school likely wouldn’t cost the Big 12 much of a “haircut” at all.

In addition to his trip to Manhattan, Ono also visited with then-Texas president Bill Powers in Austin on company dime, but minutes from a UC Foundation board meeting indicate Ono “personally visited every Big 12 president regarding the merits of the University of Cincinnati and its academic and athletic programs,” indicating Bearcats boosters may have funded much of Ono’s campaign.

Cincinnati also enlisted help of executives with UC ties from Cincinnati-based Kroger and Macy’s while also soliciting Pacey Economics to compare the Bearcats with current Big 12 schools:

In a splashy brochure dated November 2014, UC shows how it compares to the Big 12 schools in 10 categories – including annual giving, National Merit Scholars, total research expenditures, enrollment and endowment assets. Cincinnati would rank in the conference’s top 5 in each category listed, except the U.S. News & World Report rankings, which would put UC seventh.

Pacey’s research, completed in late 2014, looked at athletic budgets, football and basketball success, academics and TV market size. UC’s annual athletics budget ($27.7 million in 2015) would be the lowest in the Big 12, but Pacey pointed out that would be expected to increase in a conference where the athletic department could make more money.

The Big 12 won’t meet to discuss expansion again until May, but Ono told the Enquirer he believes his jet-setting and hand-shaking will pay off. “I am indeed optimistic that through these efforts the University of Cincinnati is positioned exceptionally well to continue to compete at the highest level,” Ono told the paper in a statement.

In January, the Big 12 won the right through an NCAA vote to hold a title game without expanding, but expansion remains a target for some in the league because it would help the conference’s cause to launch a coveted TV network. Big 12 presidents and athletics directors met at league offices in Las Colinas, Texas, in February to discuss the matters without voting on issues at hand, though Bowlsby indicated afterward the schools continue to inch ever-closer to a resolution, calling the talks “high-level discussions.”

Baylor to add counselors following criticism of handling sex assault cases

WACO, TX - AUGUST 31:  A general view of play between the Southern Methodist Mustangs and the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium on August 31, 2014 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Getty Images
2 Comments

Baylor announced late Friday plans to add counselors and add additional training for faculty and staff in an effort to improve the school’s response to sexual assault incidents.

The school has come under criticism of late after reports from the Texas Monthly and ESPN’s Outside the Lines detailed Baylor’s response to sexual assaults committed by Bears football players Sam Ukwuachu and Tevin Elliott, respectively. Ukwuachu was sentenced in August to 180 days in jail and 10 years of probation for raping a Baylor women’s soccer in 2013, while Elliott is currently serving a 20 year prison sentence after a conviction on two counts of sexual assault. ESPN’s report alleged that Baylor failed to act to three students’ complaints of assault by Elliott, while Texas Monthly wrote that the unnamed women’s soccer player eventually transferred after having her scholarship reduced.

“We know we can and must do a better job to confront interpersonal violence in our campus community,” Baylor president Ken Starr said in the statement.

The devil, as always, is in the details in these cases, and the statement did not specify how many counselors it would add or what type of and how much training its employees would receive.

Still, one of the leaders behind an online pledge that acquired more than 1,700 signatures approved the move.

“I think it showed that the Baylor leadership heard the concerns of the Baylor family, and that they recognized the need for immediate change,” said Colby College assistant professor and Baylor alum Laura Seay, via the Dallas Morning News. “They need to ensure follow-through that these things do happen and they happen as quickly as possible.”

Texas brings back former ‘Horn to coach running backs

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 14:  D'Onta Foreman #33 of the Texas Longhorns rushes against Jarrod Harper #22 of the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second half during the game on November 14, 2015 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

From 2001-05, Anthony Johnson played running back at Texas. And by that, we mean he mostly stood and watched as Cedric Benson and Jamaal Charles played running back for the Longhorns.

Now his job is to recruit and develop the next Cedric Benson and Jamaal Charles.

Johnson was announced as Texas’ new running backs coach on Saturday, making this his third stint with the burnt orange and white following a run a quality control assistant from 2007-09. Johnson replaces Tommie Robinson, who returned to a role with USC last month.

“Our entire staff thought that Anthony was a perfect fit to coach our running backs,” head coach Charlie Strong said in a statement. “He’s a tremendous young coach with great energy and enthusiasm. Anthony played high school ball in Texas, played and coached at Texas and really knows the pride and tradition of our place and our state well. He’s a guy that has played running back at a high level, who also has gained a great deal of experience coaching the position and just has so much passion for the game and drive as a coach. You could really see that during our visits, and I know Sterlin (Gilbert) and the offensive staff really hit it off with him, too. He’ll be a super addition to our staff, and we’re looking forward to getting him here.”

Johnson arrives from Toledo, where he was recently promoted to co-offensive coordinator. He served as the Rockets’ running backs coach for the previous two seasons, seasons in which the northeastern UT led the MAC in rushing. Kareem Hunt was the league’s leading per-game rusher in both seasons, averaging 163.1 yards in 2015 and 108.1 in ’14.

Prior to Toledo, Johnson spent four seasons as Sam Houston State’s running backs coach. His star pupil in Huntsville was running back Timothy Flanders, who earned three nods as an FCS All-American, was named as a finalist for the Walter Payton Award (FCS’s answer to the Heisman), and twice won the Southland Conference Player of the Year honor.

“I’ve obviously been watching the program from afar for years, and I have great admiration for Coach Strong,” Johnson said. “After spending some time in Austin with him and his staff recently, you can really feel the energy of what’s going on at Texas. Coach Strong is a great football coach and a man of integrity who has so much passion for the kids and the program. There’s just a special feeling around him and the program right now. I know there are big things in the future for Texas football, and I can’t wait to get down there and be a part of it.

“I spent a lot of time with Sterlin (Gilbert), Matt (Mattox) and Jeff (Traylor), and I feel like I really connected with them. They’re all tremendous football coaches with a great vision for what they want to accomplish. I love what they’re bringing offensively, and I’ve been fortunate enough to coach in a very similar style of offense for years. I’m really looking forward to getting in that room with all of the talented running backs at Texas and playing my role to help get the offense going.”

Texas ranked 17th nationally in rushing last season despite limping to a 5-7 record. The ‘Horns return leading rusher D'Onta Foreman (681 yards on 7.17 yards per carry, five touchdowns), a junior, sophomore Chris Warren (470 yards on 6.62 yards per carry, four touchdowns), sophomore Kirk Johnson (eight carries for 44 yards) and incoming freshman Kyle Porter.