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'Straight Up Revenge' Drives University Of Miami Booster

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'Straight Up Revenge' Drives University Of Miami Booster


'Straight Up Revenge' Drives University Of Miami Booster

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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MELISSA BLOCK, host: From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: And I'm Robert Siegel.

NCAA President Mark Emmert says yesterday's bombshell report about the University of Miami was not news to him. It alleged misdeeds in the school's football and basketball programs. Yahoo Sports reported that a Miami booster, who is currently serving time in prison for running a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme, gave players - to use NCAA parlance - impermissible benefits, and then some.

Emmert spoke on ESPN Radio this morning.

President MARK EMMERT: So we were well aware of it and weren't surprised by the sensational media coverage, cause it's being developed as we speak. So we've been on top of it for a while, gathering information and collecting data. And we'll just continue that process and let it work its course.

SIEGEL: That's NCAA president Mark Emmert on ESPN's "Mike and Mike Show."

And NPR's Tom Goldman is with us for more on this story, and the broader questions it raises about the NCAA. Hi, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN: Hi, Robert.

SIEGEL: Mark Emmert is talking about collecting data, letting the process run its course. This sounds like what the NCAA says every time it investigates any university. Is this investigation any different?


GOLDMAN: Well, certainly the allegations, I would say, are off the charts when you go through the list of alleged wrongs by former booster Nevins Shapiro. It's not just the kind of impermissible benefits, the term you used there, to players: cash, jewelry, prostitutes, bounties for injuring opposing players, paying for an abortion for a stripper who was paid to have sex with a player. These allegations and they are just allegations, are miles beyond the recent infractions reported at Ohio State or USC. It's also the scale, too.

They allegedly went on for about eight years, up until last year. They involved over 70 football players and other athletes, including a number of current members of the football team. And Shapiro says a half-dozen coaches in football and men's basketball knew about it, too.

SIEGEL: Yeah, this developing scandal at the University of Miami touches not just players, but members of the school's athletic department, the administration. How were they allegedly involved?

GOLDMAN: Well, they knew of Shapiro. No one is commenting on whether they knew what he was doing, but there are troubling signs. Shapiro was a big donor. His name, for a time, was on a player's lounge. There's concern that he was able to do all this without interference because he was pumping a lot of money into the university's sports programs.

In the Yahoo article, there's this photo of Miami President Donna Shalala standing next to Schapiro at a basketball fundraising event, looking down and grinning at what Shapiro said was a $50,000 check he gave - money, he says came from his Ponzi scheme. And then you have the school's athletic director, during Schapiro's alleged reign, Paul Dee, he was the chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions last year. And he openly scolded Southern California for breaking the rules, and it was allegedly happening under his nose all those years in Miami.

And finally, Robert, Schapiro tells the story of almost getting into a fistfight with Miami's compliance director at a football game in 2007. After that incident, which was corroborated by others, the compliance director investigated Shapiro, discovered what Shapiro was doing, but no one at the university took any action.

SIEGEL: Now there's talk at the NCAA of how colleges should be punished when scandals like these are uncovered. And people use the term the death penalty. What would that be and is it actually possible?

GOLDMAN: Well, that's the harshest punishment that the NCAA can hand down; banning a school from competing in a sport for at least a year. Not sure the NCAA would do that though. It can be devastating to a program. And critics say football at Miami, known simply as the U, is such a big brand and such a moneymaker that the NCAA wouldn't take the extreme step of shutting it down.

Now, as you mentioned, university presidents are on record saying they're fed up with rule breaking, punishment needs to be strictly enforced. We'll see what happens.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Tom.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

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