The key word at Miami isn’t ’sleaze.’ It is, as ever, ‘money’

Paul Dee and Donna Shalala: What didn't they know? Why didn't they know it? (AP photo)

Paul Dee and Donna Shalala: What didn't they know, and why didn't they know it? (AP photo)

If you look beyond the salacious details — strippers and prostitutes and a booster-funded abortion and a Ponzi scheme to boot — you’ll find that the crux of this Miami case is positively old-school. Since Biblical times, the zest for money has been identified as the root of all evil. Why else would a proud university turn its head as it allowed a rogue like Nevin Shapiro to stand on its sideline, wear its colors and pay for its athletes to engage in sexual congress?

Forget everything else in the celebrated Yahoo! Sports report by Charles Robinson. (Actually, don’t forget it. If you haven’t read it, please do.) Just scroll down a bit. See the second picture from the top? That’s Shapiro in the middle, wearing a Miami polo shirt. That’s Frank Haith, who was once the Hurricanes’ basketball coach, on the left. And that person standing on the right, gazing down at a small piece of paper in her hands?

That’s Donna Shalala, Miami’s president. She served as Secretary of Health and Human Services in Bill Clinton’s cabinet. She has the reputation of being high-minded. But what’s she examining in the photo?

A check. From Shapiro, who now sits in a federal jail. To her university’s basketball program. For $50,000.

Try as it might, the NCAA will never legislate around the great disconnect of the major collegiate sports: That these games, supposedly played by amateurs, are in truth major businesses. College football and basketball are not non-profit endeavors. College football and basketball run on money. That money has to come from somewhere.

NCAA president Mark Emmert issued a statement Wednesday: “If 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.”

Sounds good. But what “fundamental change” does he have in mind? Cloistering all players and recruits? Doing away with unprofitable sports — try squaring that with Title IX — so there’s no need to cultivate and coddle a moneyed sleaze? Stop keeping score in games so TV will cease paying to broadcast them and fans will no longer buy tickets?

Paul Dee, the former Miami athletic director who was once — oh, the irony! — chairman of the NCAA’s committee on infractions, has said of Shapiro: “We didn’t have any indication he was doing anything like this. He didn’t do anything to cause concern.”

A delicious note from Robinson’s report:

During the final game in the Orange Bowl in 2007, with the Hurricanes being embarrassed 31-0 at the half against Virginia, Shapiro, intoxicated, said he confronted Miami’s head of compliance, David Reed. According to a witness to the event, an incensed Shapiro was stalking through the Orange Bowl press box at halftime when he spotted Reed.

In a rage, Shapiro began cursing at the compliance director, calling him a “sissy” and other derogatory names, while attempting to draw him into a fight. In Shapiro’s mind, Reed was part of the problem in a slumping Miami program, largely for what Shapiro thought was too much oversight on relationships between players and boosters.

You’d think a booster challenging a compliance director to a fight in a press box would be an “indication” that the booster might not hold the university’s best interests at heart. Sure enough, Robertson reports, a Miami assistant AD called Shapiro soon afterward to say the school had run a background check and had found he was part-owner of a sports agency. Immediate disassociation, right?

Nah. According to Robinson’s report, the assistant AD “assured the booster he wasn’t going to come under any additional scrutiny.”

Paul Dee was heading the athletic department then. He was succeeded by Kirby Hocutt, who’s now AD at Texas Tech. An unnamed source told the Associated Press: “His No. 1 job was to raise money, and this Nevin Shapiro guy was one of the few people Kirby could get to write checks.”

You’ll never guess what Hocutt, speaking of Shapiro, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. (Actually, you will.) “Did we have knowledge of it? No. Heavens no.”

Nobody at Miami knew anything, except that Shapiro’s checks keep clearing. The man gave $150,000 to the “U” and had a players’ lounge named after him. Yes, he’s a convicted felon — he’s incarcerated in Atlanta — and can’t be considered the most trustworthy of sources. But why would a school allow a figure of such surpassing shadiness to hobnob with its players in the first place?

Because he had money. The details of the Miami storm might be different, but these don’t-ask-don’t-tell shenanigans have been ongoing since before Nevin Shapiro was born. The greatest run in big-time collegiate sports had its own enabler. Sam Gilbert was a contractor who, oddly enough, was indicted on racketeering charges four days after he died in 1987. He was known as “Papa Sam” to the UCLA Bruins who took 10 NCAA titles in 12 seasons. (I once spoke to Gilbert, and even on a speakerphone from the West Coast he was Machiavellian in his chortling.)

In 1981 the Los Angeles Times ran an investigative series regarding the dark side of the dynasty, and these were the conclusions reached by writers Mike Littwin and Alan Greenberg:

[UCLA coach John] Wooden knew about Gilbert. He knew the players were close to Gilbert. He knew they looked to Gilbert for advice. Maybe he knew more. He should have known much more. If he didn’t, it was only because he apparently chose not to look.

Even as we recoil at the revelations from Miami, we should know that it has been ever thus. To borrow from a song from “Cabaret,” money makes the world go around. For both better and worse, college athletics are part of our imperfect world.

By Mark Bradley

241 comments Add your comment

Bama Danny

August 18th, 2011
1:23 pm

ACC is corrupt, from Ga Tech to UNC to Miami. Great article Mark!

Dr. Sigmund Football

August 18th, 2011
1:24 pm

Second-ish!!!

Mark Bradley

August 18th, 2011
1:25 pm

Kudos to Bama Danny. Thanks, too.

MatthewH

August 18th, 2011
1:26 pm

Good read, Mark. ITtis really incredible that this individual needed friends so badly that he had to buy them. And a minor point-it’s actually the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil. That being said, I’d say this is evil.

MatthewH

August 18th, 2011
1:27 pm

Also, “he didn’t do anything to cause concern”. That makes me laugh every time.

Gator Mike

August 18th, 2011
1:27 pm

That is why they are called the scumicanes!

MikeyD

August 18th, 2011
1:29 pm

@Bama Danny
You cannot be serious…. The SEC is the king of corruption. Look at all of the shenanigans from Bama and Auburn over the years… Corruption is everywhere in college sports, but for an obvious Bama fan to claim that the ACC has the biggest problem is laughable and idiotic.

mtraininjax

August 18th, 2011
1:30 pm

Mark – What no angles to the Gators or the Noles or the dreaded UGA program? Surely Shapiro had to be spreading enough money around that other players at other schools were caught in the web?!

cadilac

August 18th, 2011
1:31 pm

check for typo in second sentence.

Jeff

August 18th, 2011
1:31 pm

Disgusting… absolutely disgusting.

Bob

August 18th, 2011
1:32 pm

Would you expect any less from a former cabinet member of the most corrupt administration in modern U S history?

Lowcountry Bulldawg

August 18th, 2011
1:34 pm

As long as he was cutting the checks the administration didn’t wanna know. Once the coaches where in bed with him they where at his mercy. The image of Shalala getting that 50k check is priceless.

Tossed Salad

August 18th, 2011
1:35 pm

That the ACC is so pathetic in football on top of being the most corrupt conference in the land is too good for words. My sides are splitting!

5 Time National Champs Nebraska

August 18th, 2011
1:37 pm

Yeah……This sort of garbage does not happen at Nebraska.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

August 18th, 2011
1:39 pm

Exactly, the state doesn’t have enough money in it to have a rich enough booster! Ha…:)

Stinger2

August 18th, 2011
1:42 pm

Bradley: How can you give Bama Danny kudos for a statement
like he made about the ACC? You also said thanks. Does that mean that you agree the ACC is corrupt? If so what proof do you have?

KINGDAWG

August 18th, 2011
1:44 pm

Here is the solution. If caught…Players loose eligibility…1st offense -1 yr. 2nd offense – ineligible-PERIOD. Coaches banned from collegiate coaching…1st offense -5years. 2nd offense- LIFETIME BAN. Colleges…5million$ fine. 1st offense. 2nd offense Death Penalty. The thing that hurts each the most is the best deterent… Players, the ability to play; Coaches, the ability to coach, and Colleges $$

Bob

August 18th, 2011
1:44 pm

Although I’m a life-long Dawg, I think the Nebraska team that demolished UF was the best college football in history. Seems like they blew out everyone they played, too.

Dr. Phil

August 18th, 2011
1:44 pm

Corruption is certainly rampant at bigger schools. Donna Shalala was supposed to be Madam Clean, but she appears to be another Beverly Hall. University presidents like Shalala and Gee bury their heads in the sand and keep cashing the checks. Administrators can find out what is going on, if they want to. Fire presidents who cheat, ban coaches who cheat, raise admission standards, and keep cheating players out of the NFL draft.

[...] The key word at Miami isn't 'sleaze.' It is, as ever, 'money'Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)And that person standing on the right, gazing down at a small piece of paper in her hands? That's Donna Shalala, Miami's president. She served as Secretary of Health and Human Services in Bill Clinton's cabinet. She has the reputation of being …Throw the book at abusive boosters/agentsESPN (blog)Wilfork: No comment at this timeBoston GlobeNCAA confirms investigation at University of MiamiChicago Sun-TimesWashington Post -Daily Mail -MiamiHerald.comall 3,537 news articles » [...]

co_cains

August 18th, 2011
1:51 pm

You got to love South Florida! it’s so REAL! greed, power, corruption, and of coures money I’m alright Jack keep your hands off of my Stack!

trey

August 18th, 2011
1:53 pm

Obviously Mark is a writer for the AJC since he can’t quote the Bible accurately-it’s the love of money is the root of all evil-not money-only a hypocritical liberal would say that. Libs love to make money then take it away from others for votes from the lower socio-economic communities.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

August 18th, 2011
1:54 pm

Nebraska guy should know I was kidding. Yes that ‘94-’95 Nebraska team was inderibly talented. Frazier,Phillips and Erstad.

Buckeye

August 18th, 2011
1:57 pm

Thank goodness there were no tattos involved at Miami. Tattoos, as all you dogs and SECvillites know, are next to Satan himself.

trey

August 18th, 2011
1:57 pm

First Lebron now the ‘canes -LOLOLOLOLOL- THERE ISNT 1 DISAPPOINTMENT NOT 2 NOT 3 NOT 4 NOT 5 NOT 6 NOT 7

Get your Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

August 18th, 2011
1:58 pm

I like how the abortion is mentioned as a terrible thing by the media in this case of Miami’s wrong doing

Dawg Tell

August 18th, 2011
1:59 pm

“Show me the Money”What did I say? “Show me the Money” “SHOW ME THE MONEY”!!

sheepdawg

August 18th, 2011
2:00 pm

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader is calling for the elimination of college athletic scholarships, saying the move is necessary to “de-professionalize” college athletes.

Drastic, but the only way to end the corruption revolving around the money. Start a semi-pro league to feed the NFL instead- most of the 5 star recruits are not students anyway.

trey

August 18th, 2011
2:00 pm

Enter your comments here

trey

August 18th, 2011
2:01 pm

ABORTION IS MURDER

[...] Writing about Miami football and super-booster Nevin Shapiro, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reminded of another former super-booster. [...]

trey

August 18th, 2011
2:01 pm

trey

August 18th, 2011
2:02 pm

WASNT DONNA SHALALA HAILED AS A GREAT CLINTONITE WHO WOULD CLEAN mIAMI UP-SOUNDS LIKE ANOTHER FAILURE AND FRAUD FROM THAT ERA

Get your Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

August 18th, 2011
2:02 pm

The same people who are for abortion are now acting as if it is wrong

trey

August 18th, 2011
2:03 pm

MIAMI IS HAVING A HORRIBLE SPORTS SEASON- THE HEAT DOWN IN 6, THE CANES WILL GET SIX, THE DOLPHINS STINK, THE MARLINS HAVE NOTHING

Get your Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

August 18th, 2011
2:03 pm

The same people who trashes, smears, calls haters, calls radical, and idiots, and right wing fundamentalist to those who oppose abortion

Wow

Just another example of the hypocrisy we call the news media

Get your Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

August 18th, 2011
2:04 pm

The media is now saying abortion is wrong

Get your Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

August 18th, 2011
2:04 pm

Which is it news people

Get your Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

August 18th, 2011
2:05 pm

You trash those who are against abortion

Get your Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

August 18th, 2011
2:05 pm

Now you consider it bad since Miami is involved

Get your Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

August 18th, 2011
2:06 pm

You call those who are against abortion Right Wing Fundamentalist

Get your Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

August 18th, 2011
2:07 pm

You call those who are against abortion hate mongers

Get your Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

August 18th, 2011
2:08 pm

Mark Bradley

Please tell us why abortion is bad now in this Miami case

billnet

August 18th, 2011
2:08 pm

If you want it stopped or greatly reduced, the coach or coaches and the athletic director should be banned for life from coaching or working at an NCAA school, if the program gets hit with more than probation. Also budget athlectics through the University budget and not as a seperate organization.

Good People

August 18th, 2011
2:09 pm

Donna Shalala is “Good People”.

But wait! There's more...

August 18th, 2011
2:10 pm

Mark, care to compare Nevin Shapiro with Taleb Al-betar of T-Town Men’s Wear?

Nerds! Nerds! Nerds!

August 18th, 2011
2:10 pm

“I did not have relations with Nevin Shapiro.” Donna Shalala

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Bill Clinton

SOUND FAMILIAR????????????????

Tennis Rodman

August 18th, 2011
2:11 pm

Casey Anthony just had an abortion after 3 years. She lives in Florida…coincidence?

The U

August 18th, 2011
2:12 pm

Mark Richt come home!

Redneck Football Luvr

August 18th, 2011
2:12 pm

College football is the purest form of football there is! NFL sux. The kids play for the love of the game! No millionare crybabbies. I luv college football.