Yahoo! exposes The U, Administrative Hypocrisy

If the NCAA truly wants to enact change, then it should hire Yahoo! Sports reporter Charles Robinson. For those not keeping up, Yahoo! — and more precisely, Charles Robinson, and to some extent, Dan Wetzel — has become the lead on about every college football scandal since USC-Reggie Bush. Yahoo! has fully emerged as a relevant player in sports reporting, particularly investigative journalism; more importantly, Yahoo! isn’t trying to balance journalism with multi-million dollar TV deals.

Simply: you really don’t want to see anyone from Yahoo! on your campus. Ever.

Now, if you’re not up to speed, you can peruse the recent webruns (Wednesday, Thursday) to catch up.

Sometime recently, Charles Robinson commented that he was about to expose a “10”-level (on a scale of 10) scandal. Many of us thought — er, hoped — he was referring to the Flagship, but we know now he meant Miami. Along with Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! exposed a scandal many folks feel is worthy of the death penalty (Chicago Tribune):

Robinson said the story broke open in December when Shapiro decided to speak with Yahoo! Sports. His motivations were clear. After providing for dozens of former players, none would take his calls or give him money he requested after his arrest, he said.

“This was about reaching out and touching guys who he felt like had completely abandoned him,” Robinson said. “He had an axe to grind and he was clear up front that speaking to us was part of that.”

It took nearly 100 interviews with other sources, 20,000 pages of financial and business records from Shapiro’s bankruptcy case, more than 5,000 pages of cell phone records, 1,000 photos as well as interviews from his federal case to corroborate what the booster said.

Robinson said he told Shapiro that he needed full access to financial records, passwords to email accounts, all photographs and other documentation to substantiate his claims.

“I essentially told him, ‘I want everything that proves you were a person who exists for the past 10 years,’ and he agreed,” Robinson said. “And almost immediately after we had that conversation in December, I began receiving boxes and boxes via Fed Ex of documents and phone records, credit card bills that all told were in the millions of dollars, bank statements that were in the millions of dollars, business records. It was literally an endless stream of paper.”

Yahoo! Sports’ investigation has many wondering how Miami officials didn’t know about Shapiro’s dealings with players. In what seems to be the broadest case of violations in NCAA history, many speculate the punishment could be the harshest for any school since SMU was given the “death penalty” in 1987.

My initial reaction was, as a program that two decades ago had to respond to a vile, poorly-written book, rife with inaccuracies and egregious errors, maybe we should wait to see just how reliable a convicted felon’s evidence is. Turns out, the due dilligence seems pretty solid (Yahoo!):

In an effort to substantiate the booster’s claims, Yahoo! Sports audited approximately 20,000 pages of financial and business records from his bankruptcy case, more than 5,000 pages of cell phone records, multiple interview summaries tied to his federal Ponzi case, and more than 1,000 photos. Nearly 100 interviews were also conducted with individuals living in six different states. In the process, documents, photos and 21 human sources – including nine former Miami players or recruits, and one former coach – corroborated multiple parts of Shapiro’s rule-breaking.

Today, Dan Wetzel levels a must-read indictment against a system that none of us can argue is working (Yahoo!):

College athletics is killing itself whole, one hypocritical scandal at a time, yet any honest reform is almost impossible to envision. We’re not talking about the too-little, too-late band-aids sprouting from last week’s vaunted NCAA retreat, one that featured no less than Shalala.

The whole system needs to go. The whole concept needs to be redone.

The problem is that the same rulebook that causes so many of these humbling hangovers also makes so much cash for the people that write and supposedly enforce it.

Until the shame outbalances the revenue, what’s the motivation to change?

The truth is no one respects the rules of amateurism – not the players and certainly not the administrators. They don’t embrace the austerity that should come from operating a system that, for tax-avoidance purposes, is hyped as just some extracurricular pursuit.

Know this about Nevin Shapiro: He rained down millions on Miami players during an eight-year spread, yet he didn’t come close to the levels of gifts and graft that former Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker lavished on athletic directors, presidents and conference commissioners.

Shapiro took scores of players out on his $1.6 million yacht. It didn’t cost nearly as much as the Orange Bowl spent in 2010 to provide 40 athletic directors and four conference commissioners (plus spouses) with a four-day Caribbean cruise.

Included in that junket? Then-Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt.

College athletics is about getting your palm greased. And nobody has its hand out like the already well-paid folks running the show.

If a bowl director is willing to pay off an AD so his sweetheart contract stays intact, hey, that’s business. If a player takes a fraction of the same thing, he’s suspended.

If that’s the deal, fine. Just don’t be so surprised that the players and boosters look at the administrators’ corruption and shrug off their own. Just stop thinking the student-athletes are too naïve to understand that everyone above them is being paid handsomely and will still beg and grab for every last quarter rolling down the street.

This isn’t 1955 anymore.

You think Miami players were rushing to get to know Nevin Shapiro? You ought to see administrators on a Nike retreat or when a television network asks for a game to be swapped or someone projects that there’s a couple extra bucks in conference mega-expansion.

Besides, the grown-ups leeched to Shapiro as hard and fast as the unpaid players. The promise of his donations overwhelmed any bit of restraint.

In 2001, Miami athletic director Paul Dee, who would later chair the NCAA’s committee on infractions and dole out hypocritical punishments, oversaw a department that gave freshman Willis McGahee a mentor: Nevin Shapiro, convicted felon. (Shapiro pleaded guilty to felony assault in 1995; he’s now serving a 20-year federal prison term for bilking investors in a $930 million Ponzi scheme.)

Then there was that now infamous picture of Shalala at a bowling alley eyeballing a check Shapiro had written for $50,000, the promise that thousands might one day turn to millions practically dancing above her head.

The people running college athletics are desperate for money – for themselves and their salaries and their facilities, for their private planes and their comped cars and their golf-course memberships.

They want to avoid paying players and taxes as if they run a little league, then get paid and pampered like they run the NFL.

Everyone is chasing the cash. Everyone was chasing Nevin Shapiro.

Now the truth has come out. The old charade has been exposed again, a parade of players seeking an under-the-table handout from an out-of-control booster.

So here come the ugly headlines and the prepared statements and the wringing hands calling for another summit or retreat or task force to discuss not changing much of anything.

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23 Responses to Yahoo! exposes The U, Administrative Hypocrisy

  1. TruthBKnown Returns 08/18/2011 at 12:12 PM #

    The case against Miami will be nearly open-and-shut. They should just plead guilty and beg for SOME leniency.

    If only we could get a UNX big-money donor to sing like a canary, too. Everything that we know about the UNX scandal was learned despite their best efforts at keeping it all secret. I can only imagine how bad it would be if someone over there would grow a conscience and start singing. I believe what we already know makes the UNX scandal worse than Miami’s. Miami just had MORE people on the take, and over a longer period of time. But there are so many more prongs at UNX. It’s not just about kids accepting gifts. I suspect if a UNX donor would sing like Shapiro, then the “gift prong” at UNX would come close to rivaling that of Miami.

    But there is no such luck of that happening. They have no conscience on the hill.

  2. lawful 08/18/2011 at 12:43 PM #

    I’m in your camp, Truth. Miami’s issues are simple: money. The holes, not so much. What’s worse, quality or quantity?

  3. baxter 08/18/2011 at 12:47 PM #

    Truth, Shapiro didn’t have a conscience.

  4. PackerInRussia 08/18/2011 at 12:48 PM #

    ^^^This ain’t about conscience. As Dan Wetzel said, “Hell hath no fury like a one-time rich guy on the Alpha 5-East tier.”

    The reason this trumps UNC for many is the shock factor. Things didn’t slowly trickle out with this one. When you summarize in one sentence everything that this dude did, then read the long list of people involved, and it’s the first time you’ve heard it, it sort of blows the mind.

  5. TruthBKnown Returns 08/18/2011 at 12:54 PM #

    baxter, I didn’t mean to imply that I thought Shapiro had a conscience. The way I understand it, he just has an ax to grind with the people he paid so well who would not return his calls in his own time of need. Now he wants to bring THEM down along with him.

    What I meant by that was the only way we’ll get someone at UNX to sing is for them to grow a conscience. I don’t think we’ll find them in prison any time soon for running a Ponzi scheme like Shapiro. 😉

  6. TruthBKnown Returns 08/18/2011 at 12:56 PM #

    Russia, you’re right about that. It was a big shock factor when that news broke! We were blindsided with the news of Miami, and didn’t have to sit through a lengthy investigation waiting for evidence. It’s all there in black and white!

  7. packalum44 08/18/2011 at 12:57 PM #

    So Dan blasts the current system without actually suggesting specific reforms? Very enlightening and original.

    Look, this is not rocket surgery. You must have rules and guidelines for NCAA member institutions to follow (just because adults drink/smoke/curse does not justify allowing children to partake). If the NCAA doesn’t hammer them with punishments it will keep occurring. Simple. For every fall from grace (TN) there is a program that rises (Arkansas).

    Talented kids have no choice but to attend college for 3 years, whether you pay them or not. Destroy cheating institutions and schools won’t cheat because whatever gains they derived would be offset by the loss in revenue from years of punishment.

    Athletic revenues will not magically disappear they will simply shift from cheating schools to schools that take advantage of cheaters’ plight and gain more talented recruits that in turn drive a better f-ball program.

    The NCAA needs to quit straddling the fence. Take a side. Either allow cheating to occur (bad for State we don’t have huge sketchy boosters [Murhphy is peanuts compared to many]) or don’t (benefits State we are squeaky clean to a fault in f-ball).

  8. TopTenPack 08/18/2011 at 1:08 PM #

    How can we all assume that we do not have any shadiness going on at NC State?

  9. TruthBKnown Returns 08/18/2011 at 1:33 PM #

    TopTenPack, all we can do is analyze what we see and come to our own conclusions. I hear TOB runs a disciplined program. Players could be accepting gifts, but I think they know TOB wouldn’t put up with any mess. I didn’t feel that way about Butch. Butch seems the type to look the other way while players do whatever they want without fear of repercussions. His players threw punches in the State game for two years running. No suspensions resulted from that. He had a player busted for marijuana, and he never missed a game for it (Quan Sturdivant). And when our players were punched, they fought the instinct to fight back and did not. Our program has a different “feel” to it than Carolina’s. Theirs seems like Thug Central.

    Our program felt more like Carolina’s back when Amato was here. I was afraid of the NCAA when he was our coach. But not TOB. The marine isn’t going to put up with any mess. I think our players police themselves because of the TOB discipline.

    There’s just no reason to think there’s shadiness at State.

    Plus, we’re not exactly loaded with players that will be in the NFL one day. Some yes, but mostly, no. So there is less chance for shadiness with our guys in the first place.

  10. cWOhLFrPAiCKs 08/18/2011 at 1:45 PM #


    Even if some guys on the fball team were accepting gifts, if TOB found out, that would be it for them. He demands that his players put the team before themselves and any sign of not doing that (not being a champion in the classroom or community) and the player is done. How many promising recruits have left the program under TOB for not fulfilling their duties to the team and the school? I certainly can’t remember Butch punishing players for bad grades and such (probably thanks to their outstanding tutor program).

  11. sautz 08/18/2011 at 2:12 PM #

    Cut the U some slack. They are doing their best to clean things up. It’s just 1 rogue booster. Blah blah blah

  12. ncsu1987 08/18/2011 at 2:54 PM #


    I’m so tired of the pretense. The NCAA’s biggest issue, as I understand it, is resource limitations. If we’re really interested in continuing our amateur status and in rooting out the rule breakers, let’s take a percentage cut of all TV contracts, bowl payouts, etc. and give that money to a more fully empowered NCAA. They can hire a small army of investigators, trainers, and compliance specialists. Let’s combine that with a complete revamping of the rule book, in tune with today’s realities. Let’s spell out a relatively small list of things that are forbidden along with the penalties for breaking these rules. And let’s figure out a way to punish the boosters. Not much can be done to boosters legally, but here’s an idea: perhaps if a booster is convicted of providing illegal benefits, they are forever banned from any sporting event at the university. Maybe that will get their attention – after all, that supposedly is what they’re after… Failure to make sure banned boosters stay the hell away can be one of those little rules that programs have to follow. And for God’s sake, give the players an f’in stipend – it’s little enough for the revenue they help generate.

    And if we’re not really interested in all this, let’s say out loud that the emperor has no clothes. I lost interest in the NBA and NFL years ago because it was overrun with thugs and criminals; never thought it would come to this in collegiate athletics. At least my favorite college team doesn’t seem to fall into that pattern. Jesus.

    Judging by the comments I read, there are a lot of people on this board a lot smarter than me. So maybe somebody can explain why this has to be so hard?


    ok boys, fire away

  13. rtpack24 08/18/2011 at 3:50 PM #

    As bad as the U’s problems seem to be, I still have not heard of the head assoc coach acting as and being paid by an agent like our neighbors in Orange County. As we sit here today, John Blake’s actions are the worst when you take into account what he was doing and his position in the program. If his actions do not qualify as LOIC then nothing does. Little Johnnie Swofford better start figuing out how he is going to save the ACC much less improve it!

  14. packalum44 08/18/2011 at 3:59 PM #

    ^ @ 1987: Non sequitur. The NCAA wrongly presumes that revenue would be materially impacted if they trully punished the blue chip cheaters (e.g. UConn b-ball, Ohio State Football, Auburn etc…) on a consistent basis. They’re wrong. Folks would still watch college football. The aggregate talent level would not change (i.e. players have NO choice but college whether paid or not).

    Hell if anything, punishing cheaters would create more parity, increasing competition. Possibilities for a BCS title would include 20 schools instead of 5. Think you’d watch more football if it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that USC/Florida/Texas/Alabama was going to win every year?

    However the NCAA is prone to short term incentives. For example, OSU blatantly cheated but the NCAA allowed Pryor to play in the bowl game. Why? Because BCS officials demanded it. For that particular game they wanted the highest possible viewership. I’m not convinced less folks would have watched if Pryor sat out…I personally DIDN’T watch b/c he played.

    NCAA did itself no favors by not applying short term negative reinforcement. They should have, but have no spine and frankly little incentive to take a hard stance against cheating, especially in the short run. Instead they just go with the flow. The flow right now is that fans/media are fed up. Enough is enough. I think UNC and Miami will get hammered. The Miami case HURTS, not HELPS UNC. The more media attention to “cheaters” the more pressure NCAA feels. Pressure on a spineless organization won’t be good for the holes IMNSHO.

  15. HPWolf 08/18/2011 at 4:01 PM #

    Since TOB took control of our Football program he has either encouraged to leave or let go nearly 40 players that were not living up to the rules and standards he set. In other words, he cleaned house. Our recruiting classes are not filled with 4 and 5 stars recruits. We get good recruits but they are often diamonds in the rough. With this being said I think we can rest assured that TOB runs a clean program. Common sense tells us this.

  16. tuckerdorm1983 08/18/2011 at 4:34 PM #

    the number of 5 star football recruits that are also good citizens is very small. (champions in the classroom and the community, not just on the field)

    These 5 star kids grow up in the aura of athletic stardom. When they are little kids it sooner or later becomes obvious that they are headed to the NFL or at least big time college football. Coaches in grade school and high school put them on a pedestal and coddle them. Why study. If they get in a little trouble, well the coaches make it go away. When the baskets of letters come in and the phone rings off the hook day and night from schools offering them scholarships and more (Coach Blake)they can become spoiled. It takes a special kid with strong guidance not to be influenced by that.

    An aside. The same goes for extraordinarily beautiful women. Why develop character, when men are tripping over themselves to give you anything you want. Beauty gets you anything and everything you need.

    Abraham Lincoln said “I judge a person not by what they have done, but by what they have overcome”.

  17. runwiththepack 08/18/2011 at 4:55 PM #

    TopTenPack Says: “How can we all assume that we do not have any shadiness going on at NC State?”

    HPWolf beat me to the reply.

    I don’t think many are assuming such. But, there’s no “smoke”. To the contrary, there is little to prompt suspicion since TOB arrived.

    Thanks, coach! I think I’m starting to warm up to this clean, winning program you run.

    It seems that Coach knows how to avoid trouble. It’s not just his “no tolerance” approach, because some kids will test that, (especially the ones with a lot of stars).

    HOW Coach does it is probably his secret, which he and we don’t want to share.

    But the star rating has some built-in problems:
    – the more stars, the more likely that a kid has a big head with a thick skull. He’s been told so often how great he is, and allowed to slide, that he is more likely to think that rules are for “regular people. Think Washburn.
    – when a kid is 15, 16, or 17, he has a lot of growing to do. Maybe Coach O’Bee has better intuition than most, and can tell which ones will grow (more than one meaning to the word grow) a lot more than others. Think Russell Wilson or Tom Gugliotta.

    Coach took mostly 2* and 3* players to 8-win, 9-win, and 10-win seasons at BC. If he can do that at BC, he can eventually do even a little better here.

    I trust him. I don’t know exactly how he figures these things out, but only Coach needs to know that.

  18. Wulfpack 08/18/2011 at 7:16 PM #

    A coach can only have so much control over a team. He must rely on the judgment of his assistant coaches and other team personnel. I believe TOB has earned the respect of the entire program, and that players, and coaches, know there will be harsh consequences if they put themselves ahead of the entire organization. I’m sure we break a petty NCAA rule here and there – everyone does. But nothing extreme. I don’t think the NCAA has half the man power to police all this stuff. Part of me believes they’d rather look away.

  19. Lunatic Fringe 08/18/2011 at 8:29 PM #

    If only Butch had thought of the sign-out sheet while at Miami…this would never have happened.

    For the record, you had better dust off your resume if Charles Robinson calls about your program. It is refreshing to see real investigative journalism again.

  20. highstick 08/18/2011 at 9:59 PM #

    Question, how bad has TOB’s housecleaning hurt the APR? Just curious as it relates to the issue we have with the APR of the football team and post season bowl participation…

  21. timberwolf 08/18/2011 at 10:47 PM #

    Pack got a shout out on MSNBC tonight. Background for Wake Ed fiasco. Ok. Back to das kapital.

  22. Lumpy 08/19/2011 at 9:46 AM #

    I love how ESPN is acting all high and mighty about this. I remember seeing a documentary somewhere about “The U” that openly celebrated players not only taking cash, but robbing other students for drinking money. Where was that?

  23. Packfan28 08/19/2011 at 12:24 PM #

    I has an interesting discussion with a former player from a North Carolina D1 basketball program last night (it was not NC State) about the Miami situation. He said it happens 99.9% of the time. He went on to say he would occassionally get envelopes with cash left in his locker, and he willingly took the money.

    Hearing this particular individual say something like that was a real eye opener for me. i think I’ve been a little too naive about how widespread this may be.

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