As we noted a little while ago, CNBC’s “American Greed” profiled in length former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro and his nearly $1 billion Ponzi scheme.
The show also touched on, although much less extensively, Shapiro’s accusations that he provided Miami student-athletes with impermissible benefits that violated NCAA rules.
Shapiro was not featured directly in the hour-long special, but in emails to “American Greed”, he answered questions about his Ponzi scheme and his relationship with the University of Miami.
Even behind bars and a computer, it’s clear Shapiro still has a cockiness about him that reflects his current situation.
“You’ll need eight documentaries to film this story” Shapiro wrote in an email to CNBC.
“He was a small guy who didn’t come from money. So he tried to prove himself,” said attorney Linda Jackson, who represents one of Shapiro’s investors.
Shapiro’s story is a fascinating one. Based on his ability to swindle millions of dollars from others for his own profit, Shapiro is no dummy, but compulsive seems like a better way to describe him than, say, intelligent.
Gambling, one of Shapiro’s many preoccupations, cost him $9 million, according to lawyer. He spent investor money and lots of it constantly. When Shapiro didn’t get his way, he lashed out, allegedly punching an intramural referee while at the University of South Florida, which he attended briefly. There’s another incident where Shapiro allegedly punched a nightclub owner.
This was man who, in addition to being unstable, was obviously insecure in the way that he had to be surrounded by others, often times buying them lavish gifts.
That’s where the University of Miami story comes in. Even if a portion of his allegations about Miami are true — and eight players have already been suspended for their connection to him — this reeks of a lonely guy who had to buy his friendships — and with college kids, no less. When those “friends” didn’t return the favor upon Shapiro’s sentencing, he lashed out again.
The Miami story will become “an urban legend” before it’s all said and done, Shapiro said in his email to CNBC.
It’s already pretty close now, if not already.
But whether the Miami scandal gets worse or not, we won’t know until the NCAA concludes its investigation. It probably won’t matter to Shapiro how the investigation ends either way; the isolation of a jail cell hasn’t contained Shapiro’s personality.
That’s all Shapiro really wants — to matter, albeit however briefly.