Former University of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro claimed he provided improper benefits to more than 70 Miami Hurricane football players and other student athletes from 2002-’10, according to Yahoo! Sports.
The 42-year-old convicted Ponzi schemer told Yahoo! Sports that he would provide money, cars, clothes, access to nightclubs, sex parties, and even paid for an abortion after one of the Miami players impregnated a young woman. In a Ponzi scheme, participants are paid with the proceeds from earlier participants by someone who fraudulently promised to invest the money..
“Hell yeah, I recruited a lot of kids for Miami,” said Shapiro, who is currently serving a 20-year federal prison sentence for conducting a $930 million Ponzi scheme, according to the Associated Press. His tactics included “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.”
Yahoo! Sports said it spent the last 11 months conducting more than 100 hours of interviews with Shapiro and also audited his financial records to legitimize his claims.
AP reports Shapiro first starting making his claims of funding players with benefits nearly a year ago. “I did it because I could and because nobody stepped in to stop me,” said Shapiro, adding to Yahoo! Sports that he is talking now because he’s angry with several of the former Hurricane players for abandoning him when he needed their help years later.
Shapiro told the Yahoo website that the players he gave benefits to include famous NFL players such as Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason, New England Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle, Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee, Chicago Bears receiver-kick returner Devin Hester, and even the late Sean Taylor, Washington Redskins safety. Yahoo! Sports reported former Miami running back Tyrone Moss confirmed he accepted $1,000 from Shapiro around the time he was entering school in 2003.
The Miami ex-booster also claimed at least six former Miami coaches and 10 athletic department employees were aware of his benefits to players. Former Miami basketball coach and current Missouri coach Frank Haith was also allegedly aware of Shapiro’s actions.
Current Miami football head coach Al Golden told reporters that the school is disappointed in the allegations, but will remained focused on the upcoming season.
“We’ll stay focused. I’m certain of that,” Golden said. “We’re disappointed but we’re not discouraged. And again, there’s going to be a life lesson here. We’re talking about allegations from a man that’s behind bars, now. If these do hold some truth, then we’ll deal with them. There’s no other way to do it.”