This week news broke of a massive booster scandal involving Miami booster Nevin Shapiro and University of Miami players. The scandal goes back to 2002 and involves at least 72 players and a half dozen coaches who knew about the improper benefits. Shapiro also owned a sports agency that signed several players during this time period. Jon Beason of the Panthers and Vince Wilfork of the Patriots (who was reportedly paid $50,000 to sign with Shapiro's agency).
"Hell yeah, I recruited a lot of kids for Miami," Shapiro said. "With 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."
The list of things that Shapiro paid for is impressive. Night clubs, strippers, prostitutes, hotel rooms, straight cash for players to commit to Miami, trips on his yacht, bounties paid to players based on game performance, jewelry, clothing, travel expenses, big screen tvs. He paid for rims for one current NFL player, a $3,000 engagement ring for another. He paid for one Miami player to have sex with a stripper, and then when she got pregnant he paid for the abortion.
One option being considered is the so-called "death penalty". The NCAA has only exercised this option once, and that was for SMU. That football program has never recovered. At one point it was the best college football program in the country, but it was plagued with booster scandal. When the NCAA killed it's football program, the conference died (the other schools joined different conferences), and SMU never recovered it's former glory.
The list of current NFL players who received benefits while at Miami is long.
According to the report Gore received lunch several times from Shapiro. Not such a big deal you'd think, until you hear this tidbit from Shapiro:
"Frank Gore, I went to lunch with [him] a couple of times. I never had any real serious outlay myself personally, but I do know that my partner, Michael Huyghue from Axcess Sports was heavily recruiting Frank."
"I know Michael Huyghue laid out a considerable amount of money to him. Somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $30,000. I'm quite certain that was the amount."
Other players named in the Yahoo report are:
Jon Beason (Carolina Panthers)
Calais Campbell (Arizona Cardinals)
Vernon Carey (Miami Dolphins)
Orlando Franklin (Denver Broncos)
Devin Hester (Chicago Bears)
Andre Johnson (Houston Texans)
Willis McGahee (Denver Broncos)
Rocky McIntosh (Washington Redskins)
Kenny Phillips (New York Giants)
Antrel Rolle (New York Giants)
Sam Shields (Green Bay Packers)
Jonathon Vilma (New Orleans Saints)
Vince Wilfork (New England Patriots)
DJ Williams (Denver Broncos)
Kellen Winslow Jr. (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Should any of these players receive punishment from the NFL for these violations (assuming they're true)? I'd normally say no, but Terrelle Pryor was recently granted permission to apply for the supplemental draft on condition that he serve a five game suspension at the start of the season. This five game suspension is the same length of the penalty that he was given by the NCAA. It hardly seems fair that he should be punished for a college violation, when these other players did far worse and walk away without any penalty.
For some more juicy details on the benefits the players received check out this article from Yahoo. To whet your appetite: Wilfork got $50,000 to sign with Axcess sports, Vilma was paid over $2,000 in bounties, Antrel Rolle got a $7500 watch and cash gifts totaling $40,000 (the rest of the players are amateurs compared to him); Mcgahee got two custom made suits, some cash, and two plane tickets for the Heisman--one for his gf and one for another woman; Hester got a $3000 engagement ring, clothes, cash, and tickets to see the Heat. Beason got cash, VIP access at clubs, and money paid to him in bounties.