Thursday, August 18, 2011

Miami Sabotages Its Identity


This is essentially the darkest era of college sports, a point in time that scumbags, con artists, scummy agents ultimately tarnishes a prominent university after being involved in allegations of illicit sins.

Words aren't necessary. It happens commonly and unpleasantly that schools are battered by public humiliation for allowing scumbags to manipulate student athletes in accepting improper benefits, with all the hysteria and duplicity unleashing the disingenuousness of collegiate sports.

The troubles of the latest scandal alone, shocking as it is hearing that the Miami Hurricanes are caught in a malicious storm, might be a hint of serious trouble of this recent controversy. There was University of Miami president Donna Shalala, calmly responding for the first time since an NCAA investigation horrified the school's athletic department and said she is "upset, disheartened and saddened by the recent allegations."

With plenty of absurdity rupturing the well-known program in the nation, the truth is that Miami is saddled with the essence of someone else's wrongdoings, similar to how an innocent person could be in the wrong place at the wrong time and be in the company of a crooked outlaw.

Though the talk regarding an 11-month investigation by Yahoo! Sports alleged that former booster Nevin Shapiro -- who is currently serving 20 years in prison for running a Ponzi scheme -- lavished at least 72 athletes from a span within 2002 to 2010 with impermissible benefits, the spate of this scandal is messy and flummoxed.

“Make no mistake – I regard these allegations with the utmost of seriousness and understand the concern of so many of you,” Shalala said in a statement. “We will vigorously pursue the truth, wherever that path may lead, and I have insisted upon complete, honest, and transparent cooperation with the NCAA from our staff and students. Our counsel is working jointly with the NCAA Enforcement Division in a thorough and meticulous investigation, which will require our patience.”

The bombshells exactly aren't quite far-fetched in a sleazy generation of insanity and fraud in a sport for which the NCAA system is unsound and specious. If we believe the accusations by Yahoo! Sports, after interviewing with a rogue and convicted felon, it could be the only reasonable solution to address the issue and minimize some of the embarrassment that has crippled the whole university.

But after major infractions, which admittedly are as despicable as previous violations at other schools -- the Hurricanes are on the brink of destruction and quickly fading in the darkness as the current wrongdoers. It should be noted, as the shame hovers above a damaged athletic department that could possibly be imposed a harsh sanction, Miami is nearly sabotaged and seems to be flirting with the likelihood of the Death Penalty.

It's a climate of hypocrisy and falsehood that continues, with enough evidence in prior years, to hatch ghastly and sickened sins and diminish integrity and credibility. Then we come to the craziest scandal, two weeks away from the 2011-12 college football season.

Just as several universities are tying to deal with punishments in their post-scandals for violating NCAA rules, a protocol no program really ever abides by, it became a matter of which athletic programs from coast to coast were in attempt to have an edge and beat the unsettled system.

Along the way, if you believe the outrageous story, Miami was just as guilty and allegedly broke NCAA rules, including Shapiro as documents revealed that he set aside the rules. Contrary to his theory, he and Miami were looking for a clean getaway and played fast and loose with the rules, but the NCAA had finally discovered the U's dirty secrets.

Shaprio, even more than he had with his close peers or own family, had contact and a strong relationship with elite Miami players -- including Vince Wilfork, Jon Benson, Andre Johnson, Kellin Winslow Jr., Antrel Rolle and relatively 12 players on the current roster. At that point, his relationship with the players was undiscovered until he came clean and told Yahoo! that he uncovered the truth by conveying the accusations because many of the players he befriended and supported bailed on him when he needed help following his arrest.

The idea of this happening for years is deceitfulness and ruination for a tattered program with asterisks given the history of remarkable feats and victories to establish a tradition that could've lasted eternally had it not been for the embarrassment, a saturation point when the institution and NCAA people have reacted.

The worst of it all is that the story broke with specifics on Tuesday and reportedly said the improper benefits were given to recruits and coaches. But the weirdest part of this story is that the administrators had knowledge and were evidently aware of the negligence and fatuous ignorance.

The public hardly ever likes to hear about violations, burned out completely, ready to move past the mortification stemming from more and more disgrace ... if only the craziness ends soon and Miami is punished greatly for its dirtiness and absolute infamy. It's harder to inflict the so-called Death Penalty these days, a one-year ban of the program -- including other hefty penalties.

If the NCAA were to banish a program for a full season, then it would roughly diminish television packages for superconferences, lower revenue at many athletic departments and it would ruin the scheduling. The shame of it would then linger into court presumably as ugliness lurks as we are closer to the prelude of the college football season.

The outrage of this story is that Shapiro was welcomed on the sideline or in the press box for Miami games and he was such a commodity in which he had a lounge name after him. It's no coincidence that he was seen on a photo alongside Shalala and the coaching staff, all while he was giving the players cash, offering prostitutes, entertainment in his multi-million dollar home and yacht.

He was even paying for expensive trips to pricey restaurants and night clubs, jewelry and rewards for excellent plays on the field. And yes, worse possibly, he paid for an abortion for a stripper who was impregnated by a player. Then, at one point in his insidious livelihood, if he ever had a legit livelihood -- mind you -- he co-owned Axcess Sports and Entertainment, an agency that signed two first round picks from Miami.

As he confirms the story with photos, phone records and even receipts, Shapiro said he also sent payments in the best interest of Axcess and paid $50,000 bundles of cash to Wilfork as he lured recruits. Shapiro, unlike many slimy providers, hosted parties for the players and gave plenty of gifts to them.

These accusations are just as gruesome as many recent scandals -- are shocking and repulsive -- when Southern California star running back Reggie Bush accepted cash and gifts from wannabe agents that benefited his family to eventually have his Heisman award vacated, when Ohio State coach Jim Tressel stepped down in denial and was humiliated after standing for the travesty of his players selling memorabilia to be given free tattoos.

And now there is Shapiro, a crook who was involved with so many players for quite some time. The irony here is that an entire decade is likely tainted, building relationships with former coach Larry Coker and Randy Shannon in that span. The list of 39 players and recruits he named were said to have received prostitution paid by the booster, but the names remain unknown as Yahoo! won't release the players involved.

With that in mind, he never had difficulty arranging hotel rooms for women to meet with the players at specific locations. He really told it all when he admittedly divulged that he violated NCAA rules with the knowledge of six coaches, three on the football staff and three on the basketball staff. So now, he confessed that he was acting worse than a pimp to improperly pacify players by giving the needy athletes gifts in a decade of irrelevancy, smearing the unforgivable national-championship appearance of the moment the Hurricanes claimed the gleaming crystal ball.

Shalala touched on pride and having faith in her statement as well: “To our students, parents, faculty, alumni, and supporters – I encourage you to have patience as the process progresses; to have confidence in knowing that we are doing everything possible to discover the truth; to have faith in the many outstanding student-athletes and coaches who represent the University; and to have pride in what our University has accomplished and aspires to be.”

It's all lost. Tainted or real. Asterisks or legit. The U stands for unbearable and uncertainty.