Poor Miami. It's been a rough summer for Will Smith's favorite town -- first hit hard by the Heat, now facing a ruinous Hurricane.
OK, I can't think of any more team name puns, so here's the recap: after their superteam lost the NBA Finals, the city was disappointed. But the Heat's failure is nothing compared to the scandal rocking the University of Miami, where former booster Nevin Shapiro is claiming he provided illegal payments and benefits to about 75 Hurricane players over 8 years.
Shapiro is no angel, as Canes fans across the net are hollering. The 5-foot-5 schmoozer is currently in prison for running a Ponzi scheme, defrauding people of money that he used to support the Hurricanes in legal and illegal ways. It's suspicious that a tiny felon is revealing this, maybe, but it's a lot like Hitler telling you to be nice to your mother. He's Hitler, yeah, but he's still right.
The story was first broken in an amazing expose by Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson, which I'm linking to again because it's that good. After I whined about the quality of sports journalism, Robinson has done a lot to restore my faith. A paper trail, specific dates from Shapiro, corroboration -- the story's solid.
And it's going to hit The U hard. Some people are already talking "death penalty" -- removing Miami's right to a football team or suspending it for years. Also some people are talking about the actual death penalty. but that's probably an overreaction.
The NCAA acts slowly on infractions like this. We might not know the fallout for a year at least. So until then, with just Shapiro's claims to dwell on, we've created a true-or-false game to show you just how ridiculous some of these payments were.
Below are 12 claims. Three appeared in Shapiro's info-dump to Yahoo!, and the rest are made up. Can you guess which three are true?
1. Shapiro paid a player $50,000 in a single lump sum. Then later he bought the guy -- not a Hummer, not a watch, not a new TV -- a new washer/dryer set.
2. Shapiro paid a player $10,000 each time the player referred to him as "Tubthumper."
3. Shapiro once bought a player six dozen doughnuts and then filmed him eating them.
4. Shapiro took a player to a strip club and paid for a dancer to have sex with the player. Later, the dancer called Shapiro and told him she had gotten pregnant, so Shapiro paid her $500 to have the pregnancy aborted.
5. Shapiro used his influence with the Miami police to remove a speeding ticket from a player's record. Later, he also helped the player avoid punishment for drunk driving, robbery, vandalism and at least a dozen charges of bestiality.
6. Shapiro took a few players out on his boat and let them use his JetSkis. After a player wrecked one into another person's boat, Shapiro paid for repairs to both his JetSki and the stranger's boat.
7. Shapiro welcomed an incoming freshman athlete who was homesick for his parents' house in rural Alabama. When clubbing trips and Heat playoff tickets didn't do the trick, the booster knitted the player a light-blue binkie.
8. Shapiro, who considered many of the players personal friends, made a bet with one that he could eat 10 living bugs in five minutes. He successfully completed the task but refused players' money, saying "That's pretty much my money anyway. And besides, I like bugs."
9. Shapiro once helped a player rob a liquor store "just to see if [they] could do it." He then returned the following day to pay the store back with Ponzi scheme money.
10. Shapiro purchased materials and helped in the construction of a giant plastic "neck" with dinosaur scales and a system of mirrors inside so the player could see from the "eyes" at the top, because the player "wanted more than anything to be a bronto."
11. Shapiro paid for a player to get tattoos on several occasions, including a Miami "U" symbol and the inscription "Hell 2 Da Naw."
12. Shapiro let a player punch him in his little square face 15 times for the opportunity to put on shoulder pads, a jersey and a Miami helmet.
Probably True: 2, 3 and 9.
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Yeah...We're Betting He Did That: 5 and 7.
False. For Now: 8, 10, 11 and 12.