College Football: NCAA confirms Miami investigation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Associated Press
CORAL GABLES, Fla. ó The NCAA said Wednesday it has been investigating the relationship between a convicted Ponzi scheme artist and the University of Miami for five months, and the allegations ó if true ó show the need for ěserious and fundamental changeî in college sports.
Former booster Nevin Shapiro, now serving 20 years in federal prison, claims he treated players with sex parties, nightclub outings, cars and other gifts. Shapiro told Yahoo Sports he provided improper benefits to 72 football players and other athletes at Miami from 2002 to 2010.
ěIf the assertions are true, the alleged conduct at the University of Miami is an illustration of the need for serious and fundamental change in many critical aspects of college sports,î NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement.
The Hurricanesí entire football team took the practice field Wednesday, even though Shapiroís claims involve several current players. Coach Al Golden said it was too soon to take disciplinary action.
The Hurricanes open their season Sept. 5 against Maryland.
ěEverybody is practicing,î said Golden, who is in his first season as Miamiís coach. ěIf it is determined somebody broke rules, then certainly theyíll be first dealt with. … As we get ready for Maryland, hopefully weíll swiftly learn if errors were made. If there are guys that are going to have to sit out games, weíll adjust our practice accordingly.î
Players werenít permitted to speak with the media.
Last week, Emmert led a group of university presidents in drafting an outline for change in college sports, including higher academic standards, a streamlined rule book and new parameters for athletic scholarships. The group included Miami president Donna Shalala.
ěThe serious threats to the integrity of college sports are one of the key reasons why I called together more than 50 presidents and chancellors last week to drive substantive changes to Division I intercollegiate athletics,î Emmert said in his statement Wednesday.
The allegations against Miami ó a program that once reveled in an outlaw image and dealt with a massive Pell Grant scandal in the 1990s ó have sparked the latest in a string of NCAA investigations involving some of college footballís most high-profile and successful programs.
In the past 18 months, football teams at Southern California, Ohio State, Auburn, Oregon, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and LSU all have been investigated or sanctioned by the NCAA.
NCAA investigators were on the Miami campus this week in the wake of the allegations by Shapiro, and have interviewed Shalala and athletic director Shawn Eichorst. He was sentenced to prison in June for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme, plus ordered to pay more than $82 million in restitution to investors.
Shalala said she was ěupset, disheartened, and saddened by the recent allegations.î
ěWe will vigorously pursue the truth, wherever that path may lead, and I have insisted upon complete, honest, and transparent cooperation with the NCAA from our staff and students,î Shalala said in a statement. ěOur counsel is working jointly with the NCAA enforcement division in a thorough and meticulous investigation.î