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Nevin Shapiro, Miami Hurricanes booster at center of scandal, attended USF

Nevin Shapiro, the Miami booster who told Yahoo Sports he provided Hurricanes players with sex parties, nightclub outings, cars and other gifts, spent four years as a USF student from 1986-90, the university confirmed Wednesday.

Shapiro, 42, was a student at USF from summer 1986 to the fall of 1990, before the Bulls football program began in 1997. The criminology major left school without earning a degree, USF spokeswoman Lara Wade said after checking with the university registrar.

The NCAA said it has been investigating Shapiro relationship with Miami for five months.

"If the assertions are true, the alleged conduct at the University of Miami is an illustration of the need for serious and fundamental change in many critical aspects of college sports," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement.

The Hurricanes' entire football team took the practice field Wednesday, even though Shapiro's claims involve several current players. Coach Al Golden said it was too soon to take disciplinary action. Players weren't permitted to speak with the media.

Shapiro, currently serving a 20-year federal prison sentence for his involvement in a $930 million Ponzi scheme, detailed "thousands of impermissible benefits" to Miami football and basketball players in a Yahoo Sports story.

USF coach Skip Holtz said Wednesday he was not aware that Shapiro had attended USF, but said the story gives other schools a chance to remind athletes to be careful about the people they associate with during their college careers.

"It's definitely a great teaching opportunity for us," Holtz said by phone as the team returned from 12 days of training camp in Vero Beach. "As coaches, we talk all the time about mistakes that maybe other college athletes have made at other schools and how we can learn from them. If we can eliminate some future issues because of mistakes people have already made, those are huge opportunities to learn from. That's something we're definitely talking about."

No current or former USF players or coaches have been implicated.

In the past 18 months, football teams at Southern California, Ohio State, Auburn, Oregon, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and LSU all have been investigated or sanctioned by the NCAA.

NCAA investigators were on the Miami campus this week in the wake of the allegations by Shapiro, and have interviewed Miami president Donna Shalala and athletic director Shawn Eichorst, who was hired in April to replace Kirby Hocutt.

Shalala said she was "upset, disheartened, and saddened by the recent allegations."

Current Miami players named by Shapiro as receiving benefits included quarterback Jacory Harris, Ray Ray Armstrong, Travis Benjamin, Sean Spence, Marcus Forston, Vaughn Telemaque, Dyron Dye, Aldarius Johnson and Olivier Vernon.

Golden said he's eager to obtain answers quickly, in part so his players don't repeat past mistakes.

"If they were exposed to Mr. Shapiro, clearly we have to make sure we prevent that going forward," Golden said. "You do that by getting to the facts. How did this guy, if he did, get around our players like that? As a head coach, I want to know. I know our assistant coaches want to know. We want to make sure it never happens again. It shouldn't happen."

Golden, hired in December to replace Randy Shannon, said when he interviewed for the job, Miami officials did not tell him about Shapiro's allegations.

"If they knew this was percolating, I believe they did have a responsibility to tell me," Golden said. "I believe they have a responsibility to tell Shawn. But look, I'm happy here. My wife is happy here. We have great kids on this team."

Former Nebraska defensive end Benard Thomas told the AP he was on Shapiro's yacht with two former Hurricanes players, Kellen Winslow Jr., now with the Tampa Bay Bucs, and D.J. Williams, in 2005 when they had finished college.

"We all had money ourselves," Thomas said. "We didn't need anything from him."

Thomas described Shapiro as "cool."

"He was a nice guy," Thomas said. "I've got nothing bad to say about him."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Nevin Shapiro, Miami Hurricanes booster at center of scandal, attended USF 08/17/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 6:11pm]
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