August 22, 2011 Leave a comment
It has been about a week since the Yahoo! Sports revealed the massive violations that have gone down with the University of Miami football and basketball programs. Since then, there has been a lot of talk about sanctions, penalties and even a NCAA death sentence. So, time to play catch-up and put it into simplier terms.
Ponzi scheme mastermind Nevin Shapiro reportedly invested millions into the University of Miami football and basketball teams both legally and illegally. It has been reported that 72 student-athletes between 2002 and 2010 received some form of benefits from Shapiro, be it cash, cars or even prostitutes.
Shapiro, serving a 28-year prison sentence for his role in the Ponzi scheme, was open and candid about his involvement with Yahoo! Sports. In fact, his willingness to throw the organization he loved so much under the bus was a little bit troubling. To me, it had a little bit of a Wee Bay feel (The Wire, greatest show ever) where Wee Bay already knew he was going to serve life in prison for murder and shooting a cop, so he started taking credit for everything that went on with the Avon Barksdale drug ring.
So, what is the smoking gun that apprently set off Shapiro on this The U hating spree? Apparently, the university became displeased with Shapiro’s payment plan towards a new student center that was named after him. In response, Miami removed his name from the building and discontinued their legal relationship with Shapiro.
Due to the report, the NCAA has launched an all-inclusive investigation into what actually went down within the programs. It probably won’t be until after the 2011-12 NCAA football season until there is an official ruling, so one can only speculate what type of penalty will be handed down.
However, that hasn’t stopped anybody from sharing their opinion as to what should be done. NCAA president Mark Emmertt has said, without refering directly to Miami, that if it is deemed necessary to hand out the “death penalty”, then the NCAA will see fit to do that. Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly has stated that he would like to see the harshest penalty taken to those who don’t play by the rules, and Alabama coach Nick Saban said something similar.
For clarification sake, the death penalty would be the discontinuation of an athletic program at a university. That program would cease to exist. No coaches. No players. No fans. Everything about the program would stop dead in its tracks and disappear.
The last time the NCAA handed out a penalty as severe as the death penalty came in the 1980s with the Southern Methodist University, better known as SMU. If you want the complete story of what happened, make sure to go to ESPN and re-watch their phenomenal 30 for 30 documentary “The Pony Excess”.
20+ years removed from the death penalty and SMU is still recovering. They appeared in their first bowl game post-death penalty in 2009, and the last two years were the first time in 25 years the program posted back-to-back seasons with winning records.
If there were a situation to lay down a death penalty, this seems to be the exact case. To review, Jim Tressel, one of the most successful coaches in Ohio State history, lost his job over a “lack of compliance” with NCAA rules when it came to players selling their own memoralbilia. Southern Cal got a two-year post-season ban and Reggie Bush lost his Heisman Trophy over accepted benefits. And Michigan basketball is still recovering from “The Years that Weren’t” when it was discovered the Fab Five received benefits.
This isn’t one coach or one player. This is one INSTITUTION. The argument can be made that quite simply, the coaches didn’t know. But, something this explicit, how could nobody on the coaching staff not be aware of what is happening? Shapiro was a booster that had deep roots with this particular school. He had a building with his name on it. There had to be some awareness on the school’s part that this guy was doing things under the table to help the program.
This has been a real disgusting year for Miami sports fans. The “Big Three” didn’t fulfill their promise. The Dolphins failed to address their quarterback situation. And the Marlins remained the Marlins. Now, their pride and joy, their most successful entity over the last decade, is on the brink of extinction.
I’m sorry Schwartz. But, it doesn’t look good for THE U.
Greg Kaplan is a co-founder of Home Field Advantage