WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
(We're all UM/NCAA today because of the end of the investigation, but we'll have lots of Dolphins and Heat over the coming days.)
As reaction to the NCAA’s ruling on UM poured in Tuesday, Nevin Shapiro’s father said his son --– serving a 20-year prison sentence for his role in a Ponzi scheme -- never should have opened his mouth publicly about the UM case.
“If it could have benefited him, then fine,” Larry Shapiro said by phone, sadness evident in his voice. “But it didn’t have any benefit. It hurt him. I said to him three years ago: ‘Was it worth it?’ And he got pissed off at me.’
“It wasn’t worth it! For what? What’s it led to? He stepped on a lot of toes for what? For [bleeping] nothing! What the [bleep] did it have to do with his criminal case?”
If he hadn’t spoken out about UM, “he would have been here in Miami and here with his attorney every weekend,” instead of Oakdale, La., and now Butner, N.C., Shapiro said.
“But he would have gotten killed” if he had been imprisoned “in Miami,” the father added, knowing UM fans were angry with him snitching.
Larry Shapiro, who said he believes all of his son’s allegations were true, said Shapiro was placed in solitary confinement two years ago in Tallahassee after the NCAA story broke because “they think he’s a squealer and a rat. They put food in a slot like they do with death row inmates.”
His said Shapiro speaking to Sports Illustrated this year about his gambling on UM games “was very detrimental.”
He said prison officials and other inmates “frown on it” and that some think he’s “infamous and a rat. What they do is they goad you to try to get you to do something. If he breathes, they monitor it. Guards say, ‘Where’s Nevin?’ They have him under a microscope. They monitor everything because of the [expletive] of the UM [story]. If you respond, they put you in a room with no windows, a 4 by 6 cell.”
Shapiro, who lives in South Florida, said his son’s e-mail privileges at Butner (where the king of Ponzi schemers, Bernie Madoff, also resides) have been rescinded for 90 days because prison officials thought he was trying to circumvent the prison mailing system, which Shapiro said his son did not do.
He said he suspects his son –- who called for UM to get the death penalty -– was unhappy UM’s punishment wasn’t more severe.
### Shapiro had accused 114 players of accepting illegal benefits. But the infractions committee concluded that 30 players and eight coaches committed major violations and said it used “photographs and statements of others” to confirm those charges. And the NCAA bemoaned that none of those 38 people “involved in the numerous major violations took any meaningful steps to report” them.
### The NCAA interviewed Shapiro 22 times – 22! – including 18 in person before it even informed UM that it was being investigated. The NCAA ended up conducting 118 interviews in all, with 81 different people.
### The NCAA concluded that “by granting [Shapiro] special access and celebrating him with the naming of a student lounge, it is clear the institution embraced him. He certainly did not ‘fly under the radar’ as the institution asserts.”
### Former UM A.D. Sam Jankovich told us: “I thought Miami might get fined. I didn’t think they would get scholarship cuts. But those committees have an ax to grind... The scholarships could hurt a little bit.”
### ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit: “If you’re a USC or Penn State fan, you could say, ‘Why in the world did [UM] lose only nine [football] scholarships?’ If you’re a Miami fan, this is a great day.”
### ESPN’s Dick Vitale told us: “The unfair part is how long it took for a decision. I don’t think [the penalties] were that bad. I don’t see it as something that will hurt them.”
### Green Bay Packers executive and former UM star Alonzo Highsmith, whose son plays for UM, said by phone: “I’m ecstatic. I’m glad it’s over. Let’s move on. Al Golden withstood the storm. Now we can put this behind us and take our program to great heights. Tell Nevin and his fraud attorney and Randy Phillips and Tyrone Moss: ‘Nice try. Now go crawl back under a rock and lead your life as former Hurricanes who everyone hates.’” (Phillips told The Sun Sentinel that Shapiro told the truth when he accused UM of violations, and Moss reportedly corroborated Shapiro's claims to Yahoo!)
### Leonard Abess, chairman of UM’s Board of Trustees, told us: “It’s a fair result. I’m not angry with the NCAA. They have done the best job they can.”
But considering Donna Shalala said earlier this year that UM deserved no further sanctions, why not appeal? “Because it’s over. It’s time to be done with it. It would serve no purpose for anyone to appeal this.”
### Former UM basketball coach Jake Morton, the only former UM coach who received a notice of allegations but no penalty, told us: “It has been a very trying 26 months. It’s been difficult in a lot of levels: personally, professionally. I’m glad it’s over. I’m not angry. I was angry through the process, but I’m ready to move on. I don’t understand why Nevin did it. I don’t understand what his motive was. It never made any sense to me.”
Morton, who has coached previously at St. Francis, James Madison, UM (2007-11) and Western Kentucky, said he’s hopeful of returning to coaching.
### Attorney Jim Zeszutek, who represents Hill, Aubrey Hill and Jorge Fernandez, was upset about Hill and Fernandez getting two-year show/cause penalties, which will make it very difficult for either to land college coaching jobs. Fernandez is out of coaching; Hill coaches Carol City High in Miami.
"I expected Coach Hill's to drop to a secondary violation, but the NCAA seems to have ignored all the sworn affidavits we provided showing athletes were encouraged to make statements against him," Zeszutek told my colleague Michelle Kaufman.
"As for coach Fernandez, he has already been out of coaching for two years and if you add another two years to that, you are punishing him for four years. It is putting him behind the eight ball and makes it very difficult for him to get back in. I spoke to Coach Hill, and he is so frustrated, displeased and unhappy with the ruling. I will spend the next few days digesting this report, but it's very disappointing in the cases of Coach Hill and Fernandez.''
### Check out @MannyNavarro's story on the sports home page for more reaction, including prominent NCAA blogger John Infante saying UM got off lightly; USC athletic director Pat Haden complaining about his school's penalties compared with UM's; and Jay Bilas blasting the NCAA as usual.
### Missouri and former UM coach Frank Haith, who said he won’t appeal his five-game suspension, was skewered in the NCAA’s 102-page report. On more than one occasion, the NCAA said it “does not find his version of events to be credible…. The only reason [Haith] requested a third interview was he realized earlier that by telling the truth during [an earlier] interview, he had implicated not only himself, but also [a former assistant coach] in a scheme to cover up NCAA violations.”
### When Shapiro needed money, he asked Haith for a personal loan or to return his $50,000 donation. The NCAA said when Haith wouldn’t return Shapiro’s calls, Shapiro “began leaving threatening messages” and threatened to tell Miami’s athletic director that Shapiro “entertained coaches at a strip club and that he once provided coaches with $10,000 to facilitate recruitment of prospects.”
The NCAA said that Haith helped three assistants pay $10,000 to Shapiro's mother and "attempted to cover up the booster's threats to disclose incriminating information."
And there's this: The NCAA said Haith “described being embarrassed by his night at the strip club because he was married and in Miami that would have been a ‘bad deal.’”
### In a sense, Haith summed up the state of college sports with this statement to the NCAA: "Did we win enough games for the Miami supporters? I don't think they felt great about what we did there. I didn't recruit, I didn't get the five-star guys ... Let's don't be naive.... Our business is corrupt."
After we spoke, Vitale tweeted that Haith's "image has taken a major hit." Missouri is standing behind Haith, with A.D. Mike Alden saying Tuesday: "I'm proud to have Frank Haith as our men's basketball coach."
### The NCAA said after my column appeared on Aug. 29, 2010, in which Shapiro threatened to write a tell-all book about UM, the Hurricanes asked Shapiro and his attorney for information. They did not respond.
### Al Golden isn't mentioned in the NCAA's 102-page summary. Randy Shannon is referenced, but not by name; he received a letter of reprimand because multiple UM football coaches (and 32 UM coaches in all, covering 10 sports) sent impermissible text messages or made impermissible calls. UM's new policy, in effect a few years, fines coaches a minimum of $100 for each impermissible text message, and also results in a seven-day suspension.
### An unnamed prospect that was recruited by UM told the NCAA that former coach Clint Hurtt had a “bat phone” as a second unregistered device to use when calls to recruits weren’t permitted.
Hurtt's violations are exposed in the NCAA report. Tom Jurich, Louisville's athletic director, said Tuesday that Hurtt would have been fired if he had committed these violations as a member of the Cardinals' staff. But Jurich said Louisville will retain him because he committed the violations while working for UM. But he won't be permitted to recruit through next spring, will have his pay frozen and also received a two-year show-cause penalty.
"I apologize to the University of Miami," Hurtt said Tuesday. "It's my alma mater.... I admit the mistakes I made and will take accountability for my actions."
Please see the last two posts for a lot more UM/NCAA fallout. Now, thankfully, we can all move on: We'll have a lot of other non-NCAA stuff in the days ahead. Twitter: @flasportsbuzz