A booster spent millions of dollars on gifts for Hurricane football and basketball players
Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today's conversation, Emma Carmichael (writer, Deadspin), Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic), Patrick Hruby (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), and Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic) talk about the broken system of amateurism in college sports.
The 2011 college football season is just two weeks away! And we already have our first blow-out recruiting scandal of the preseason.
Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports has turned in the results of an 11-month investigation into the former Miami Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro's involvement with the school's basketball and football teams. Shapiro reportedly sustained an "eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking" that included "cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play, travel and, on one occasion, an abortion."
Are you shocked and disgusted yet?
I'm not. Yahoo's report is fascinating and important not because it shares all of the dirty, intricate details of Shapiro's entanglement with the Hurricanes—although that is certainly what will carry the story for the next few weeks—but because the report just feels so familiar and unremarkable by now. Yahoo practically has its own template for this story. Shapiro, for all of his impolite frankness, is right when he suggests that Miami would just be "waiting for the big check to come" if he weren't sitting in jail on other charges. For many high-profile college football programs, the NCAA's standards don't apply unless they have to—and that's why we'll keep hearing accounts like this one in years to come. Miami's not alone here.
But must we be outraged? The fact that Shapiro paid for prostitutes and sometimes for, in Robinson's words, an "array of women" to be made available to players in hotel rooms Shapiro had also paid for, is fundamentally offensive. But one player, in defending Tyrone Moss's accepting $1,000 from Shapiro the first time they met, points out that the running back arrived in Miami "poor as [expletive] from Pompano and he's got a little kid to feed... Of course he's going to take [the money.] Who wouldn't in that situation?"
It's a good question. Does Moss, and other players like him, deserve that kind of support (which is very different from a striptease!) from people who are willing to provide it?