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                                          DOWN THE “U” by StanSilliman
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Silliman on Sports
By Stan Silliman

Convicted Ponzi schemer and Miami booster, Nevin Shapiro, is a bitter, jilted lover. 

He may think of himself as the Jose Canseco of college football, shining a light on the problem of booster/player relationships, but deep down he’s lashing out at the program and university he professed to love. He loved it and showered their players with cash, to the tune of millions of dollars. Now, he’s like the girlfriend who’s been dumped by the dreamboat she’s been pining after since childhood. 

A year ago he was living in two homes (one a 2.7 M villa and the other a 6.1 M coastal mansion) but now he’s spilling his guts from a cell he shares with a bank robber. In his revenge filled kicked-to-the-curb mind, he blames former Miami players for turning their back on him in his time of need. He is the Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes to Miami University’s Andre Rison trying to burn the athletic program down for what he perceives as unfaithfulness. 

Donna Shalala may or may not be fired. Miami may get the death penalty. Several other universities, including Alabama and three universities in the Big 12 – Texas Tech, Kansas State and Missouri – might face problems from having former Miami coaches and administrators working on their campuses, all this because of a jock-sniffer who never even attended the Coral Gables school. Nevin Shapiro went to the University of South Florida. 

Most of the information I’m relaying came from exhaustive investigations done by Yahoo! Sports. Our comments focus on the more ironic and stranger items stemming from the report. But it’s hard not to say the whole quagmire isn’t strange, even for the glitzy and drug infested community of Miami. Here’s few things that stand out:

Miami’s Athletic director was Paul Dee, famous for Wagging his finger at USC, chastising them for not having better institutional control and mouthing these words “high profile players require high profile scrutiny.” He then recommended, as chair of the NCAA infraction committee, USC to receive a four-year probation with the loss of thirty football scholarships.  USC’s crime? Not supervising booster or agent contact of two players – Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo. Miami’s crime, according to Shapiro? Seventy-two players showered with cash (some over $ 50,000), parties, cars, women. Paul Dee was the athletic director during the time period Shapiro was a booster. And even worse, not only was Shapiro a booster, donating money and handing checks directly to Dee and Shalala, he was also part owner in a sports agency. How could Dee have not known of Nevin’s interest in an agency? Only possible way – lack of scrutiny!

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Do we need to hammer Mr. Dee even more? Yes, any time there’s finger wagging coupled with hypocrisy, we do. Miami had lots of high-profile players and Nevin Shapiro was allowed access to them, even encouraged. Shapiro twice led the Hurricanes onto the field. Shapiro took recruits to his home for the purpose of selling them on the “U” where, at times, money was exchanged. Does this smack of lack of scrutiny? Yes. The money Shapiro used to bribe the players was stolen money, grifted from duped investors. Didn’t Dee have any suspicions about a guy so young having so much money? I guess, to find out why, would have required scrutiny. Probably high profile scrutiny wondering why a guy has two houses, a 1.7 M yacht, and more cars than he knew what to do with?  More reason to slam Mr. Dee? Yes, I’d think a guy who wags his finger would be the type of guy who checks out where his money comes from, especially, if it might come from a “high profile” booster. 

     B)     Shapiro’s business, the jewel behind his Ponzi scheme, is one where I can’t figure why anybody would invest with this guy. His business plan was this, short version, to buy ready to expire food from wholesalers at a discount and then export it to countries with less restrictive food laws than ours. 

Can you see people rushing to invest millions in food getting ready to spoil?
Apparently, thousands did to the tune of $ 970 million in investments, in which investors lost $ 87 M. Shapiro promised 10 % to 26 % returns with a business plan based on poor people in third world countries eating our rotten food.   

This stupid scheme allowed Nevin Shapiro to buy floor tickets for the Heat games (at a cost of $ 400 K) where he became friends with Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal. The cartoon is from an event where Shaq bench pressed little Nevin. Don’t be surprised to find some of Nevin’s new prison buddies to attempt Shaq’s move. But be aware, quite a few prisoners are Miami fans.

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