With Miami having such a stellar season (to date anyway, as they are playing FSU this weekend and that might not be very pretty), there has been a lot of talk and speculation about if they would even be eligible for an ACC championship or a bowl game. Not being someone who really follows Miami football, I knew they had some troubles with the NCAA but really did not know what happened or why the school still did not know what the repercussions of their actions would be. Finally, just last week, after years of the ‘unknown’, Miami finally got told what was going to happen to them. Here is the synopsis as it is a bit more intriguing than your typical NCAA infraction story.
I don’t know Nevin Shapiro and had never heard of him until I looked into writing this article. He is serving 20 years in prison right now for racketeering and money laundering after getting busted in a Ponzi scheme in 2010. This guy sounds like someone who loved the fast life, wanted to be liked, needed ‘fame’ and enjoyed football – so he decided to buy all of it.
He became an active supporter of the University of Miami in 2001 and later became a part of a sports agency where he could recruit college players for their professional careers. It was in that role where he began providing ‘gifts’ to UM coaches and players, a big no-no in the NCAA. These gifts reportedly included TV’s, dinners, tickets to sporting events, oh, and prostitutes. He continued this for years until he got busted in his other endeavors at Capital Investments where he had setup an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Nevin Shapiro sounds like an all-around nice guy!
After he was placed in federal custody in 2010, he started spilling his guts on the infractions at Miami. That’s when the NCAA got involved and started looking into this. Typically, when there is an allegation, the NCAA will investigate, and within a reasonable amount of time, they will sanction the program by reducing scholarships to be given to players, forcing the school to ‘vacate’ victories, making them ineligible for post-season play, etc. There are many things the NCAA can do, but in this case, it took the NCAA 3 years to figure this out and come up with a plan.
In the meantime, Miami knew they were going to be in trouble so they went ahead and self-imposed some sanctions on themselves. For example in 2011 they withdrew their eligibility for a bowl game and in 2012 they declared themselves ineligible to play in the ACC Championship after winning their side of the conference (which Georgia Tech was the beneficiary of). They also reduced recruiting visits, scholarships, etc in the last couple of years hoping to have some ‘time already served’ commuted from their sentence by the NCAA.
In January of this year, the NCAA got in trouble for how they obtained information from Shapiro and ‘self-imposed’ a sanction on themselves and eliminated about a fifth of the information they had received from Shapiro. UM was just a tad miffed to say the least and essentially asked for the whole thing to be thrown out, which of course, it was not.
Finally, just last week, Miami’s fate was determined and the unknown is now the known. Miami lost 12 scholarships (9 football and 3 basketball) over the next 3 years while they are on probation and they can only give tickets to one UM sporting event to a recruit. Some coaches have some restrictions on them as well. The NCAA accepted Miami’s self-imposed bans and did not give them any more. So, this season, Miami can play in the ACC Championship and any bowl that takes them.
A comedy of errors really all started because some guy wanted to feel like the coolest and richest kid on the block and some young kids couldn’t just say, “No, thank you”.