Charles Robinson Uncovers, Dissects the Nevin Shapiro Scandal at the University of Miami

August 17, 2011 – 11:30 am by Eric Schmoldt

In case you haven’t been near any sort of sports medium over the past 24 hours, Yahoo! and writer Charles Robinson broke the full story on the role of Nevin Shapiro, a man convicted of operating a Ponzi scheme and a booster with the University of Miami. Robinson details violations that include at least 72 current and former Miami players, as well as coaches and administrators.

The investigative work involved looking into all sorts of financial and phone records and more than 100 hours of jailtime interviews with Shapiro. It also involved working with other sources to corroborate what Shapiro said in those articles. It’s impossible to guess where this investigation might lead with the NCAA, but it’s got people thinking about measures as drastic as the death penalty.

Charles Robinson joined 790 The Ticket in Miami with The Dan LeBetard Show with Stugotz to discuss how much trouble Miami is in, the violations occurring within and outside of the NCAA’s statute of limitations, how he didn’t pay for the story, if he believes everything Shapiro said, the most damning piece of information, the role of athletic director Paul Dee, the dirtiest part of the investigation, the media’s role in these violations and if he believes he’d find things like this at every major program.

Just how much trouble is Miami in?:

“I always hate to speculate with the NCAA because it’s so difficult to ever know exactly what their investigations are really going to produce. But I can say this, if Nevin Shapiro’s turned over to them the amount of material he’s turned over to us — which is essentially the last 10 years of his financial life, the last 10 years of his social life — I think there’s going to be a lot of merit to a lot of allegations.”

The most practical ramifications are if these violations occurred in the last four years and it sounds like you found that that is the case:

“We’ve been able to link violations to players in the last four years, without a doubt. … The NCAA has a four-year statute of limitations, that’s true. But there’s also a clause in that statute that says if we have an individual who’s tied to a program who engages in long-standing … and consistent rule-breaking, beyond the previous four years, the NCAA can basically put their finger on that clause and say, ‘We’re going to open this back up.’ … I think that’s what Miami has to worry about right now. … Your potentially looking at eight to nine years of violations.”

Did you pay for the story?:

“Absolutely not. I know that was something that was Tweeted. We’ve reached out to the individual and also the outlet associated with that individual. That is one of the most grossly inaccurate things I’ve ever heard. We did, in no way, pay for this story.”

Do you believe everything that is coming out of Nevin Shapiro’s mouth?:

“Let me put it this way, Nevin named over 100 players to us. We were able to corroborate aspects of violations with 72 players, the seven coaches and three support staff members. There were many other names. There were many other things that Nevin Shapiro talked about, prostitution being one of them, that we chose, number one, not to name the individuals allegedly involved in prostitution. … And, frankly, we left a lot of players on the cutting room floor simply because we could not corroborate.”

What’s the most damning piece of information in your story?:

“I think it’s got to be the involvement in coaches only because even though we’re talking about at least 72 players here, we see a lot of violations with players. It’s a huge number and Miami fans can go all the way back to the Pell grant scandal and say, ‘Well, jeez, we saw pretty big numbers … back then.’ But really, I think what shakes the foundation, at least for the NCAA … it’s going to be when coaches take some part in long-standing impropriety. What Nevin Shapiro is saying is, ‘A lot of these coaches were involved in me being in contact with recruits.’ … The NCAA, at the end of the day, the kids are one thing, but the institution’s another.”

Isn’t this all stuff that took place under athletic director Paul Dee, the former head of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions?:

“A large portion of it. … There’s irony in it obviously because we heard Paul Dee when the USC sanctions were announced and he said high-profile athletes necessitate high-profile compliance. … We’re going to look at this for a long time and the thing we’ll talk about is compliance. Where were people on this? How did this happen? The guy, at one point, attempted to pick a fight with your head of compliance, yet nothing happened to him. Paul Dee, this is a guy that ran your team out on the field twice, led your team out of the tunnel during two games. … In one of those games, he was recognized by Paul Dee on the field during the course of the game. … They recognized Nevin for being a valuable booster to the program, standing right next to Paul Dee. … That relationship’s troubling.”

When, in your investigative reporting, did you feel dirtiest?:

“Probably at the moment when I was sitting in … the jail in New Jersey with Nevin and we were talking about the abortion. It became apparent that he had paid for an abortion for a player and really the moment where it became apparent that he actually didn’t tell the player that he had paid for this abortion, that he had been approached by a woman. … At that point, I thought there can’t be a moment that probably gets lower than that.”

What do you view as the role of the media in this circumstances with NCAA violations?:

“I think the role of the media is to continue to reveal this until that system is absolutely forced to correct itself. Believe me, I’ve been accused with UNC, USC, Ohio State, Oregon, multiple different investigations, as being someone who is a keystone cop for the NCAA. … I think my point is, as a journalist, my role is to always reveal the truth and if the system is broken, it will not fix itself unless it’s repeatedly stuck in the face of everyone — the institutions, the NCAA, the conference commissioners. You cannot fix something until you are forced to immediately confront the problem.”

If I sicked you on every major program in the country, you’re uncovering a lot of stuff like this, right?:

“I think that every major program in the country has its share of skeletons in the closet. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. I don’t think there’s any, quote unquote, absolutely clean program. … Do I think there’s a Nevin Shapiro at every institution out there? No. Do I think that other Nevin Shapiro’s exist? Absolutely.”

Listen to Charles Robinson on 790 The Ticket in Miami here

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