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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Miami Football Players Took Money From Boosters Yet Ohio State Still Public Enemy No. 1 In College Football


Claiming he paid for nightclub outings, sex parties, cars and other gifts, former Miami booster and convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro has told Yahoo! Sports he provided extra benefits to 72 of the university's football players and other athletes between 2002 and 2010.

His claims involve several current football players and threaten to bring down a program with a legacy dotted by scandals —but none quite like this. Yahoo! Sports published its story Tuesday afternoon, hours after Miami coach Al Golden said he was certain that his team would "stay focused" amid an NCAA investigation into claims Shapiro first began making about a year ago.

Shapiro said he gave money, cars, yacht trips, jewelry, televisions and other gifts to a list of players including Vince Wilfork, Jon Beason, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester, Willis McGahee and the late Sean Taylor. Shapiro also claimed he paid for restaurant meals and in one case, an abortion for a woman impregnated by a player.

One former Miami player, running back Tyrone Moss, told Yahoo! Sports he accepted $1,000 from Shapiro around the time he was entering college.

"Hell yeah, I recruited a lot of kids for Miami," Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports. "With access to the clubs, access to the strip joints. My house. My boat. We're talking about high school football players. Not anybody can just get into the clubs or strip joints. Who is going to pay for it and make it happen? That was me."

In the past 18 months, the football teams at Southern California, Ohio State, Auburn, Oregon, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and LSU all have either been investigated or sanctioned by the NCAA.

Wait, so let me get this straight. The University of Miami football team accepted money from a booster while they were student-athletes? I'm stunned.

Really, I thought Ohio State was the only football team that was reprimanded for this kind of stuff. Trading autographs for merchandise and tattoos is clearly the most diabolical, underhanded, illegal practice that has ever occurred in Division 1 sports and Jim Tressel had his career ruined for this inexcusable transgression.

Listen, Division 1 athletes are, for the most part, hardly students, regardless of what any Athletic Director has to say. That crap about "student-athletes are students first, athletes second" is among the most laughable statements one could make. I've seen assistant coaches peer into classroom windows at Providence College to ensure that members of the basketball team were even present in class. And if they were actually there, nine times out of 10, they were playing on their sidekicks instead of taking notes. So spare me that bullshit.

Secondly, I have always believed that these kids deserve some sort of compensation for the millions and millions that they bring in to every college or university. The "education" that they get for free is bullshit. The least they can do is give these kids the equivalent of a part-time job. I'm not saying these kids deserve Mercedes and hookers, but Jesus, give them some spending money.

That is the difference with the Ohio State "scandal" and other recruiting violations. The Buckeyes players were already in the program and simply traded their own merchandise to some random tattoo artist, not accepting gifts and money from actual boosters of the program. But let's have a Sports Illustrated cover story about Jim Tressel and how he is the worst person alive for trying to help his players, who in my opinion, did nothing wrong. The Cam Newton controversy was much worse and ZERO was done about it.

It remains to be seen what actions the NCAA will take in regards to the Miami booster, but this report magnifies just how absurd the whole Ohio State scandal actually is. Jim Tressel and The Ohio State University was made an example of, giving Buckeye haters the opportunity to throw the "cheater" label around. Not to mention the Michigan fans who are so jealous that their team sucks that they will search for the most absurd reasons to discredit the Buckeyes.

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