Now that the University of Miami has become the latest victim of the ever-vigilant eyes of Yahoo Sports' Higher Learning Takedown Team, it's time to ask: what does it all mean? Well, for Da U, it means a horribly tarnished legacy that could lead to an SMU-style "death penalty" in a worst-case scenario. That's what happens when, according to Charles Robinson's report, a booster named Nevin Shapiro provides impermissible benefits to at least 72 Miami football players from 2002 through 2010. The Miami violations trump any recent scandal; they make USC, North Carolina, and Ohio State look like jaywalkers, or those guys who copy DVDs on their computers and send them back to Netflix.
In an exhaustively researched expose, Robinson details a litany of the following violations: "cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and, on one occasion, an abortion."
At least six different Miami coaches were aware of, or participated in, the violations.
Shapiro, the booster at the center of the controversy, is currently serving a 20-year prison term for operating a Ponzi scheme, but that doesn't make his allegations any less credible — indeed, in an NCAA system that practically begs people of Shapiro's peculiar ethical stripe to get involved, Shapiro's "other life" should come as no surprise.
Robinson's report is an amazing piece of journalism, and we'd recommend you read it even if we weren't all part of the same "Big Y!" team. But since we're the NFL blog over here, the aspect of the story that piqued our interest was the unprecedented number of current NFL players named in the investigation. The closest example in recent years would be the 16 players who were docked in North Carolina's various scandals, but those players were still in college — it's just that so many of them (led by defenders Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin) were about to become high NFL draft picks and future stars.
No Ohio State or even SMU can possibly put out the sheer star power of this list. Matt Hinton of Dr. Saturday sent me a count: 25 NFL draft picks, and 13 first-round selections, received varying levels of illegal benefits from Shapiro, and got away with it. We have the names of the current NFL players after the jump; we'd recommend listening to Charles' recent take on Yahoo! Sports Radio while you read it, and checking out the article for the full litany. Prepare to be amazed, kids — if you were able to field a team of alleged Miami violators, you'd have quite the Pro Bowl squad.
The Alleged Miami Violators, 2002-2010 (Current NFL Players; click on the names to see the complete allegations per player):
Jon Beason, linebacker, Carolina Panthers: Cash gifts, entertainment on Shapiro's yacht, Drinks and VIP access in nightclubs, meals at Miami-area restaurants. Beason also received $1,150 in bounties. From the report: "Shapiro said he paid Beason $650 in bounty money for his first career start at Virginia on Nov. 13, 2004. The cash was doled out for Beason notching eight tackles ($50 each) and a sack ($250) in a 31-21 win. The booster said a second bounty of $500 was paid for a hit that Beason put on Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt during the runback of a fumbled snap in a 23-3 win over Colorado on Sept. 24, 2005."
Calais Campbell, defensive end, Arizona Cardinals: Food, drinks and entertainment at Shapiro's $6 million Miami Beach mansion, an August 2006 dinner at Italian eatery Grazie in which Shapiro personally drove Campbell to the restaurant, and at least one occasion where Shapiro provided VIP access and drinks at a nightclub.
Vernon Carey, offensive lineman, Miami Dolphins: Food, drinks and entertainment at one of Shapiro's homes and on his yacht.
Orlando Franklin, offensive tackle, Denver Broncos: Food, drinks and entertainment at Shapiro's Miami Beach mansion on multiple occasions, drinks and VIP access in nightclubs on multiple occasions, bounties for plays against defensive linemen, meals at Miami-area restaurants including a February 2007 dinner at Italian eatery Grazie.
Frank Gore, running back, San Francisco 49ers: Lunch with Shapiro on a handful of occasions. Also, according to the report: "Shapiro also told federal agents in taped interviews that both he and current Miami staffer Sean Allen had knowledge of Shapiro's partner in Axcess Sports — then-NFL agent and current UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue — paying Gore while he played for the Hurricanes."
Devin Hester, wide receiver/returner, Chicago Bears: Multiple cash gifts, including cash for rims for Hester's sport utility vehicle, approximately $3,000 for an engagement ring, playoff tickets to a Miami Heat versus Detroit Pistons playoff game on June 6, 2005. Also: drinks and VIP access at nightclubs, multiple meals at Miami-area restaurants. Food, drinks, entertainment and lodging at Shapiro's $2.7 million Miami Beach home, Entertainment on Shapiro's million yacht, clothing purchased for Hester in August 2005.
The report also details $7,500 in bounties: "$1,000 total for a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown ($500) and an ensuing celebration penalty ($500) in a 38-33 win over Florida on Sept. 6, 2003; $2,500 total for two punt returns for touchdowns ($1,000 each) and one celebration penalty ($500) in a 48-0 win over Louisiana Tech on Sept. 18, 2004; $2,000 total for two return touchdowns (including one called back by penalty) in a 41-38 win over Louisville on Oct. 14, 2004; $1,000 total for a kickoff return for a touchdown in a 45-31 win over N.C. State on Oct. 23, 2004; and $1,000 total for a missed field goal returned for a touchdown in a 27-10 win over Florida on Dec. 31, 2004."
Andre Johnson, wide receiver, Houston Texans: Multiple trips to nightclubs where Shapiro paid for VIP access and drinks.
Willis McGahee, running back, Denver Broncos: Two custom-tailored suits, plane tickets for McGahee's girlfriend and a second woman to attend the 2002 Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York City, food, drinks and entertainment at Shapiro's $2.7 million Miami Beach home, and various cash gifts.
The report has McGahee receiving $2,000 in cash bounties: "The bounties were: $1,000 total for 234 rushing yards (Shapiro offered $500 per 100 total yards) in a 41-16 win over Florida on Sept. 7, 2002; and $1,000 total for a touchdown ($500) and 173 yards rushing and receiving ($500) in a 28-27 win over Florida State on Oct. 12, 2002."
Rocky McIntosh, linebacker, Washington Redskins: Drinks and VIP access in nightclubs, entertainment on Shapiro's $1.6 million yacht, and $500 in bounties. The report indicates that the bounty payment was for a pair of sacks and a fumble recovery by McIntosh in a 27-7 win over Virginia Tech on Nov. 5, 2005.
Kenny Phillips, safety, New York Giants: Food, drinks and entertainment at two homes owned by Shapiro and one owned by Shapiro's ex-girlfriend, meals at Miami-area restaurants, entertainment on Shapiro's yacht.
Antrel Rolle, safety. New York Giants: A $7,500 watch, cash gifts in the thousands of dollars (reportedly as much as $40,000), multiple trips to both nightclubs and strip clubs where Shapiro paid for VIP access, drinks and entertainment, trips on Shapiro's yacht, food, drinks and entertainment at Shapiro's $2.7 million Miami Beach home, transpiration to and from nightclubs and strip clubs provided by Shapiro's bodyguards
Rolle also received $1,500 in bounties. From the report: "One bounty of $1,000 was for Rolle shutting down Georgia Tech wideout (and former Miami recruiting target) Calvin Johnson in a 27-3 win over Georgia Tech on Oct. 2, 2004. A second bounty of $500 was for a game-sealing interception in a 41-38 win over Louisville on Oct. 14, 2004."
Sam Shields, cornerback, Green Bay Packers: A 42" TV, drinks and VIP access in nightclubs, food, drink, and entertainment in Shapiro's mansion.
Jonathan Vilma, linebacker, New Orleans Saints: Food, drinks and entertainment in Shapiro's $2.7 million Miami Beach home, entertainment on Shapiro's yacht and personal watercraft, various cash gifts, drinks and VIP access in nightclubs, and $2,250 in bounties. "Shapiro said the bounties were: $1,000 for a hit and personal foul penalty by Vilma on Florida State quarterback Chris Rix during Miami's 28-27 win on Oct. 12, 2002; $250 for a sack in a 38-33 win over Florida on Sept. 6, 2003; and $1,000 for a hit on Rix in a 16-14 win over Florida State on Jan. 1, 2004."
Vince Wilfork, defensive tackle, New England Patriots: A $50,000 lump sum payment during Wilfork's junior season. Per the report: "Shapiro said the payment was made to secure Wilfork's commitment to Shapiro's sports agency, Axcess Sports, which he co-owned with then-NFL agent and current UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue. Wilfork eventually signed with Axcess Sports and his first NFL contract was negotiated by Huyghue."
Wilfork also received multiple cash gifts totaling in the thousands of dollars, trips to nightclubs where Shapiro paid for VIP access and drinks, fishing and leisure trips on Shapiro's yacht, meals at Miami-area restaurants, lodging, food and drinks at Shapiro's $2.7 million Miami Beach home, and a washer and dryer worth approximately $1,500.
The report also indicated that Wilfork received three bounty payments totaling $1,250. "A bounty of $500 was paid for a sack and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Wilfork in a 41-16 win over Florida on Sept. 7, 2002. A second bounty of $250 was paid for a sack by Wilfork in a 38-33 win over Florida on Sept. 6, 2003. A third bounty of $500 was paid for a fumble recovery by Wilfork in a 22-14 win over Florida State on Oct. 11, 2003."
D.J. Williams, linebacker, Denver Broncos: Food, drinks and entertainment at Shapiro's Miami Beach home, cash gifts, entertainment on Shapiro's yacht, a trip to Miami for Williams' mother, multiple meals in Miami-area restaurants, and a $250 bounty for a sack in a 38-33 win over Florida on Sept. 6, 2003.
Kellen Winslow, Jr., tight end, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Entertainment on Shapiro's yacht and personal watercraft, drinks and VIP access in nightclubs, and "Shapiro said he also paid cash to fix damage Winslow inflicted by crashing one of the booster's personal watercraft into another boat."