CORAL GABLES — Miami coach Al Golden's second season at the school is starting much like his first, with new accusations of rule breaking and the looming threat of serious NCAA sanctions in the midst of a long probe into the football program's compliance practices.
Former Miami football employee Sean Allen — who has been linked to one-time booster and now convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro through the improper-benefits scandal that broke last year — assisted members of Golden's coaching staff with recruiting and did so with Golden's knowledge, Yahoo Sports reported Friday.
If true, that could be a major NCAA violation, despite Golden's repeated insistence that he wants to "get it fixed."
"The inferences and suggestions in the Yahoo Sports story that my conduct was anything but ethical are simply false," Golden said Friday in a statement issued by the school.
Golden also said that he has been a college coach for more than 18 years and stands by his record of compliance, and that he could not address specifics.
NCAA investigators visited Miami for several days this month, the Associated Press reported Friday. Shapiro's claims that he provided dozens of Miami athletes and recruits with extra benefits over an eight-year span were published by Yahoo Sports last August.
A significant portion of Shapiro's allegations from last year revolved around Allen, an assistant football equipment manager until leaving last year. Shapiro said he gave Allen more than $200,000, most allegedly spent on players and recruits, as well as a luxury car. Allen denied those claims to Yahoo Sports in 2011, and has not responded to interview requests from AP or Yahoo.
Shapiro's attorney, Maria Elena Perez, also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Miami had braced for added allegations. In an email obtained by AP, university President Donna Shalala told trustees Thursday that "someone who had a low-level position at one time" was expected to allege that UM assistant and former NFL player Micheal Barrow committed recruiting violations. Shalala said it has been investigated.
Some current players were listed as having contact with Allen during recruiting, including defensive lineman and former Alonso High star Anthony Chickillo, cornerback Thomas Finnie and incoming freshmen Randy "Duke" Johnson and Herb Waters.
Chickillo, according to the new Yahoo report, was taken to a strip club on his recruiting visit by former Hurricanes defensive end Olivier Vernon, who after last fall skipped his senior season to be eligible for the NFL draft. Vernon was one of the players sanctioned by the NCAA last season for accepting money from Shapiro.