The dark cloud that was Nevin Shapiro has officially lifted and is now a thing of the past.
As pointed out by the Orlando Sentinel, today marks the end of Miami’s three-year probation handed down in the wake of the Shapiro impermissible benefits controversy. The U had self-imposed a bowl ban on its football program that ended after two years in 2013. It was the three scholarships that were stripped from the football program in each of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, though, that impacted the football program the most.
And continues to impact it to a much greater degree than the program for that matter, as first-year Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt recently noted.
“It’s great that we’re going to be able to get a full allotment of scholarships and that’s part of our issue right now,” Richt told the Sentinel. “We’re very thin in a lot of spots. … When you get your numbers back and you could get a couple cycles of recruiting and get some depth, you can withstand some of the injuries that we’ve had. But when you get a few injuries when you’re already light as it is, it’s kind of a domino effect. … Getting our numbers back is going to be huge.
“We’ve got a bunch of great men. We’re really excited about our program. I know the future is bright. It is a big day, no doubt.”
Shapiro first came to the NCAA’s attention in August of 2010, with reports surfacing that the convicted felon was writing a tell-all book in which he was alleging former Hurricane players had committed major NCAA violations. In August of the next year, the NCAA’s investigation became public knowledge; a Yahoo! Sports report that same month had Shapiro claiming he spent “millions of dollars” on six dozen UM student-athletes, 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.”
In February of 2012, Shapiro, apparently agitated that nearly four dozen individuals connected to The U were lined up to testify against him in his federal trial, promised to take “that program down to Chinatown” and that the Miami story will become “an urban legend” before it’s all said and done.
Shapiro was ultimately sentenced to 20 years in prison for orchestrating what was in the neighborhood of a $1 billion Ponzi scheme.
“I hope what everyone has taken away from this – whether it’s our staff, our coaches, our students, our boosters – is that we need to understand the rules that we have at the NCAA and what they have set for us as a program,” athletic director Blake James, who wasn’t the AD during the scandal, told the paper. “For me, the biggest thing is to be vigilant in our approach, make sure we’re doing everything we can to educate our staff, students, and boosters.
“Education is the big thing. I think we’ve done a good job of monitoring and how we monitor. Some of that is through technology and some of it is prioritizing resources. I think those are the big things and those are the things that will continue on. … It’s going to be business as usual over the last few years.”
That ongoing education was put to the test earlier this year as four Hurricane football players were investigated for their involvement with a luxury car rental agency. Two were ultimately dismissed, one transferred to Marshall and the other was cleared.
It’s not believed that the football program will face any sanctions, even minor ones, from the NCAA over the situation as they had been extremely transparent with The Association throughout the process.