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NCAA investigation looming, Miami pumps the brakes on all booster-athlete relations

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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Thanks to Nevin Shapiro, Miami boosters are no longer going to enjoy the perks they once received.

Shapiro, a convicted Ponzi schemer serving a 20-year sentence, told Yahoo! Sports in August that he provided extra benefits to 72 Miami student-athletes — charges corroborated by thousands of financial documents and other sources — launching an ongoing NCAA investigation into his claims. In response, Miami has decided to nix all unsupervised booster contact with the Hurricanes.

On Monday, the Miami athletics compliance office sent its boosters their biannual newsletter. In it was a headline that read: Change in Occasional Meal Policy.

The text went on to state that: "Effective immediately, boosters are no longer permitted to entertain student-athletes with an occasional meal and boosters are prohibited from hosting current University of Miami student-athletes in their homes or other locations.''

The rule is a stricter take on the NCAA rule, which states that athletes can receive "an occasional meal from a representative of athletics interests on infrequent and special occasions."

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The article from the university also goes on to say that boosters are not allowed to provide any food, drinks, transportation or any other extra benefits, including discounts, transportation (including the occasional ride), tickets, cash and clothing. It also outlined restrictions on communication with incoming recruits.

"Most of us follow the rules and have had great experiences getting to know these student-athletes over the years, and I think it's sad that by restricting our interaction so much now it will dehumanize the athletes, and they'll just become helmets running across the field and basketball jerseys shooting jumpers," Miami booster Henry Rothwell told the Miami Herald. "There will be less reason for boosters to pay money to come out if they don't get to know the athletes personally and learn their stories."

Shapiro said the benefits he provided included meals and hosting players at his Miami Beach mansion. Quarterback Jacory Harris and 11 other players were found guilty by the university for taking benefits from Shapiro. Eight were suspended while four others had to repay the amount they took.

Miami already issued a self-imposed postseason ban this year after its 6-6 campaign, but could face harsher punishment from the NCAA if it finds Shapiro's claims have merit.

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Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham

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