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Ex-booster Nevin Shapiro's allegations of improper benefits at University of Miami include Tampa Bay area players

Nevin Shapiro, a former Miami booster, told Yahoo Sports he provided impermissible benefits to 72 Hurricanes football players and other athletes from 2002 to 2010, starting with former Hillsborough High player Andrew Williams and including former Plant High quarterback Robert Marve, now at Purdue.

Shapiro said he offered bounties for hard hits on former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and former FSU quarterback Chris Rix, booked hotel rooms for player parties under the alias "Teddy Dupay" (a former UF basketball player Shapiro thought resembled him) and that Bucs tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who played at UM from 2001 to 2003, was among numerous players in his social circle.

Winslow, who is not accused of wrongdoing, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme, said he gave money, cars, yacht trips, jewelry, televisions and other gifts to players. He said he paid for nightclub outings, sex parties, restaurant meals and an abortion for a woman impregnated by a player not named by Yahoo.

In a story on its website, Yahoo Sports says it spent 100 hours interviewing Shapiro over the past 11 months, and audited thousands of pages of financial and business records and interviewed almost 100 people to examine his claims.

Shapiro said at least six coaches and as many as 10 athletic department employees were aware of the illicit activity, including then-basketball coach Frank Haith, now at Missouri. The coaches Shapiro named have since left UM.

Haith said Tuesday, "The reports questioning my personal interactions with Mr. Shapiro are not an accurate portrayal of my character." He said he is cooperating with the NCAA.

Shapiro said Aubrey Hill, UM's receivers coach and recruiting coordinator from 2008 to 2010 who now holds the same position at Florida, knew of or had direct participation in NCAA rule violations.

UF athletics spokesman Steve McClain told the St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday, "Coach Hill indicated he was very comfortable with and very confident in how he conducted himself while at the University of Miami."

Former UM running back Tyrone Moss told Yahoo Sports he accepted $1,000 from Shapiro around the time he was entering college. "It was me and a few more of the guys in my incoming class that he kind of showed some love to," Moss said. "I'm not going to say the names, but you can probably figure them out yourself."

Said Shapiro, "Hell yeah, I recruited a lot of kids for Miami. With access to the clubs, access to the strip joints. My house. My boat. We're talking about high school football players. Not anybody can just get into the clubs or strip joints. Who is going to pay for it and make it happen? That was me."

Shapiro said his motivation for speaking out is that he is angry with several players he says he helped. He said he feels they abandoned him because of his legal problems.

UM officials are cooperating with NCAA investigators as they look into Shapiro's allegations.

"Everything started when I gave some Miami Heat basketball tickets to Andrew Williams," Shapiro told Yahoo Sports. "I had given some guys my business card at the (2001 team) awards banquet, including Andrew. We kept in touch after the season ended, and I ended up giving him the tickets. It was like nothing. I didn't even think about it."

Williams, a defensive end, denied getting gifts from Shapiro. "Who, me?" Williams said. "Man, naw."

Shapiro recounted what he said was his inroad to the players: Before the 2002 season, he said, he bought a television for Williams' apartment. More gifts followed, and Shapiro was introduced to Williams' roommates, Cornelius Green and Jerome McDougle. That led to more introductions.

Among the benefits Shapiro said he gave Marve were drinks and VIP access to strip clubs and nightclubs and at least one cash gift. A Purdue spokesman refused to comment about Marve, who transferred there in 2009.

Twelve current players were named by Shapiro as receiving benefits, Yahoo Sports reported, including quarterback Jacory Harris, Ray Ray Armstrong, Travis Benjamin, Sean Spence, Marcus Forston, Vaughn Telemaque, Dyron Dye, Aldarius Johnson and Olivier Vernon. The story cited specifics involving only Armstrong, Dye and Vernon, alleging they received extra benefits as recruits.

Coach Al Golden, hired in December, acknowledged Tuesday that some of his players may have made mistakes. "We'll stay focused," he said. "We're disappointed, but we're not discouraged. We're talking about allegations from a man that's behind bars now. If these do hold some truth, then we'll deal with them."

Current players were not made available to comment.

Shapiro's relationship with the program dates back about a decade. Some of the alleged incidents occurred in the past four years, which would be within the NCAA's statute of limitations regarding violations. But if the NCAA confirms allegations from further back, it could enact its "willful violations" exception to the four-year statute.

Paul Dee, athletic director from 1993 to 2008, told the Palm Beach Post neither he nor anyone else connected to the athletic department had any knowledge of what Shapiro has alleged. Dee is a former chairman of the NCAA infractions committee who lectured USC in its case regarding Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo that led to severe penalties by saying, "High-profile players demand high-profile compliance."

Golden said he e-mailed his team "every day this summer" about avoiding problems that recently hit other schools and his players have a "Cane Code" reminding them about such issues..

Times staff writer Antonya English contributed to this report.

Ex-booster Nevin Shapiro's allegations of improper benefits at University of Miami include Tampa Bay area players 08/17/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 8:20am]
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