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

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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.

Houston QB D’Eriq King considering leaving team to grad transfer elsewhere in 2020

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Houston quarterback D’Eriq King is considering leaving the team, counting this season as a redshirt and then graduate transferring elsewhere for the 2020 season. If such a move is completed, it’s believed to be a first in major college football.

King’s father, Eric King, told Mark Berman of the Fox affiliate in Houston that the move is a done deal.

However, King himself says the decision is not final.

Whether it happens or not, that such a move is being considered is a radical (and, depending on your perspective) cynical use of the new redshirt rule, passed in 2018, that allows players to compete in up to four games and still count the season as a redshirt.

Kelly Bryant did at Clemson, as did Jalen McCleskey at Oklahoma State. (Ironically, King played McCleskey, now at Tulane, on Thursday night.)

But neither of those players were starting quarterbacks. Bryant’s departure happened after he had just been demoted in favor of Trevor Lawrence.

King is Houston’s starter, and its best player. He has 36 games’ experience under his belt; only one other Cougar has thrown pass this season, freshman Logan Holgorsen. (He’s 1-of-1 for 5 yards.)

King threw for 2,982 yards and 36 touchdowns and rushed for 674 yards and 14 scores last season before missing the final portion to a knee injury. On Thursday he passed Tim Tebow to become the first player in FBS history to rush and throw for a touchdown in 15 consecutive games.

Houston is off to a 1-3 start under new head coach Dana Holgorsen, and it’s clear that the King camp doesn’t believe he’s clicking with the new coaching staff.

And while King’s decision would be treated in some corners of the college football world as a sky-is-falling scenario, it’s telling that King’s experience at Houston is chalked up as business as usual. A product of Manvel, Texas, King was recruited, signed and played his first season for Tom Herman. Herman left for Texas and was replaced by Major Applewhite, but he was fired after two seasons and replaced by Holgorsen.

It appears now that King would like a do-over on the end of his college career, and would like to do so for a coaching staff that he can actually choose to play for.

BYU loses grad transfer RB Ty’Son Williams for the year

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Ty’Son Williams‘s career has come to a premature end, as the running back revealed on Twitter on Sunday that he has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee.

A graduate transfer from South Carolina, Williams actually signed with North Carolina out of Sumter, S.C., but transferred to Columbia and spent three years with the Gamecocks. After totaling 165 carries in two seasons on South Carolina’s active roster. Williams was enjoying the usage he never got at his first two schools. He rushed a career-high 17 times for 92 yards and two touchdowns in BYU’s win at Tennessee, then bested that mark a week later, carrying 19 times for 99 yards in the Cougars’ 30-27 win over No. 21 USC on Sept. 14.

“Unfortunately my 2019 season has come to an end due to an ACL year in my left knee,” Williams wrote on social media. “Having no regrets as every time I gave it my all when I was out there. I appreciate all my family and friends reaching out as I always say “I love y’all.”

Williams carried six times for 28 yards in BYU’s loss to No. 17 Washington on Saturday.

For the year, Williams rushed 49 times for 264 yards and three touchdowns.

Williams used a redshirt in leaving North Carolina for South Carolina, so he would have to appeal to the NCAA for a medical hardship to return for a sixth season in 2020 — and he passed the 4-game threshold this season. As a graduate transfer, Williams owns a Bachelor’s degree from South Carolina and is pursuing a Master’s in communications at BYU.

Pac-12 says ending of Ole Miss-Cal could have been reviewed, but says call on field was correct

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Before we move on, let’s acknowledge two competing, equally true things. First, if your team lost a game like Ole Miss did, you’d be hopping mad, too. Second, much of Ole Miss’s anger is a thin veil obscuring the fact the replay they wanted would have been a de facto fourth timeout, as well as the fact their team could have hustled a heckuva lot quicker to the line of scrimmage to run that ill-fated final play.

All that said, the Pac-12 has now issued its review of the ending of No. 15 Cal’s controversial win over Ole Miss, and found that while the play “probably should” have been reviewed, the underlying call on the field was correct. Elijah Moore came down short of the goal line.

“Given the closeness of the call, and that it was an end-of-game scenario, it probably should have been stopped by instant replay for review,” Pac-12 VP of officiating David Coleman says. “However, as there was not irrefutable video evidence that the ruling … could be overturned to a touchdown, it was the correct call.”

A review in that situation would have been an undeniable advantage to Ole Miss, allowing the Rebels to regroup and snap the ball with a fresh play call from offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez.

Instead, the correct call was not reviewed, and it’s hard to be angry at the replay official for not reviewing a correct call.

No. 11 Texas loses two starting DBs for a month, a third for longer, backup LB for the season

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Coming into this season, Texas really liked its depth in the secondary. Heading into the meat of the Big 12 schedule, that faith is about to be tested.

Tom Herman confirmed Monday that Texas will be without starting cornerback Jalen Green and starting safety Caden Sterns for the next month and safety Josh Thompson for even longer. All three were injured during the No. 11 Longhorns’ 36-30 win over Oklahoma State.

Those injuries were in addition to the injuries already sustained by starting nickelback BJ Foster and back-up safety DeMarvion Overshown, who both missed Saturday’s game.

Additionally, freshman linebacker Marcus Tillman, Jr., will miss the remainder of the season with an MCL sprain.

The Green injury is especially painful for Texas given the circumstances that led to it. The ‘Horns were set to take a 21-13 lead into halftime when, with 45 seconds left in the second quarter, punt returner Jake Smith muffed a punt at his own 15-yard line, which Oklahoma State recovered. Forced to defend an extra possession, Green dislocated his shoulder attempting to tackle Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard and did not return to the game. Adding insult to injury, Oklahoma State scored on the possession. (Though Texas obviously won the game.)

Sterns led the Longhorns with 12 tackles on Saturday but left the field seated upright in a cart after spraining a ligament in his knee. Sterns also missed Texas’ win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl due to a knee injury and sat out spring practice recuperating the knee.

Texas is off this week, accounting for one of the weeks Sterns, Green and Thompson will miss. That’s the good news. The bad: all are certain to miss the ‘Horns Oct. 12 date with No. 6 Oklahoma.