MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The University of Miami and head coach Al Golden gave the first public statements from the school Tuesday morning about the ongoing NCAA investigation into claims made by a Ponzi schemer about potential rules violations including impermissible benefits.
The NCAA is investigating claims made by former UM booster Nevin Shaprio. The former booster pled guilty to running a nearly $1 billion Ponzi scheme in June, but last year said he was going to write a book about his involvement with former UM players.
His attorney, Maria Elena Perez, said Shapiro told the NCAA he provided players with the use of a yacht and other favors. Perez said she and Shapiro had been talking with the NCAA for a couple of months.
The university responded to the NCAA investigation saying:
“When Nevin Shapiro made his allegations nearly a year ago, he and his attorneys refused to provide any facts to the University of Miami. The University notified the NCAA Enforcement officials of these allegations. We are fully cooperating with the NCAA and are conducting a joint investigation. The University of Miami takes these matters very seriously.”
If the NCAA finds anything, and the Hurricanes did notify the NCAA themselves first, the Canes punishment will be less severe because the school was proactive. Still, the charges, if substantiated could prove damning to the school’s football future.
UM head coach Al Golden said that he’s been emailing his players about the issues that have brought down Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and the University of North Carolina. Golden said that his players have a “Cane Code” they’re given by his staff where benefits and agents are discussed.
Coach Golden said he was “surprised” by the NCAA investigation and was gathering information at the same time all of the media was trying to learn more.
“Clearly there were some articles yesterday, but when it comes to contact with the NCAA, I haven’t had any,” Golden said.
Golden also said that his staff takes things like educating the team about compliance, “seriously,” and gave credit to the university’s compliance department for their actions.
“Since I’ve been here, this is the tightest compliance department that I’ve been around,” Golden said. “They are strong, they have incredible manpower, and they’re on top of everything.”
Still, Golden admitted that some of his players may have made mistakes in the past that prompted the investigation. But, he’s not part of the investigation and isn’t allowed to ask players what they did or did not do.
Shaprio’s involvement with the school dates back to 2001 and the days of Larry Coker and carried through to Randy Shannon’s teams. Among the players mentioned in connection with Shapiro are Tavares Gooden, Devin Hester, Jon Beason, and Randy Phillips, according to InsidetheU.com.
The question will come down to whether any of the players associated with Shapiro played with the school in the last four years. The NCAA has a statute of limitations of four years, so unless a player implicated with Shapiro played with the school since 2007, the school could be off the hook.
One issue the NCAA will have to determine is how credible Shapiro is. Being a convicted Ponzi schemer puts him in a negative light.
Still, Shapiro had donated roughly $150,000 to the football program since 2001; and when the NCAA is investigating, it casts a shadow over a school until the investigation is finished
Perez told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that she was planning to speak on camera about the investigation on Tuesday.