The NCAA is investigating the University of Miami Hurricanes, the football team that Nevin Shapiro, former team booster, said he provided with numerous illegal benefits.
Shapiro, now incarcerated for participating in a Ponzi scheme amounting to $900 million, told Yahoo! Sports about providing over 70 players with thousands of dollars in cash, access to yachts, prostitutes and million dollar homes.
While he was an active booster for the Hurricanes, Shapiro was also the co-owner of Axcess Sports & Entertainment, a sports agency that recruited and paid many former Hurricanes players. He also named UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue as a partner at the agency who took part in the payment and recruitment of Hurricanes players that went against NCAA regulations.
Chris Freet, Miami associate director of athletics for communications for the University of Miami, told Yahoo! Sports that the school and its athletic program were cooperating with the NCAA. According to Freet, this is not the first time Shapiro has made claims about illegal happenings within the team.
“When Shapiro made his allegations nearly a year ago, he and his attorneys refused to provide any facts to the university,” Freet said. “We notified the NCAA enforcement officials of these allegations. We are fully cooperating with the NCAA and are conducting a joint investigation. We take these matters very seriously.”
Although Yahoo! Sports reported that Shapiro threatened to write a tell-all book about the event last year, the businessman said he decided to go through with exposing the team after he failed to receive financial help from players and staff that he helped in the past.
“Some of those players – a lot of those players – we used to say we were a family,” Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports. “Well, who do you go to for help when you need it? You go to your family. Why wouldn’t I go to them?”
In an interview on ESPN Radio,NCAA president Mark Emmert said he was not shocked by the allegations.
"We were well aware of it and weren't surprised by the sensational media coverage. We've been on top of it for a while, gathering information and collecting data," Emmert said.
The NCAA leader also released a statement saying that the allegations could potential change college football in the future.
"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," he said. "The 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."
Despite the allegations, which include the involvement of the University of Miami coaching staff and paying for an abortion for a player, the Hurricanes are conducting their practice as usual.
“Until we hear of an infraction or that we did break a rule, everybody is practicing," Miami coach Al Golden told ESPN on Wednesday. "If it is determined that somebody broke rules, then certainly that will be first dealt with from a university standpoint, from an eligibility standpoint."