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Yachts, prostitutes and college football scandals

By RYAN KAHN | September 14, 2011

Put yourself in his situation. You just made millions of dollars embezzling money in a Ponzi scheme, you've had an infatuation with the Miami Hurricanes your whole life, and envisioning yourself as part of the team through X-Box and PlayStation3 games just isn't cutting it anymore.

At five-foot-five, Nevin Shapiro didn't have much of chance at playing college football. Instead, he did what any other narcissistic sports fanatic would like to do: booster his way into the Miami football program through monetary donations.

Based on his track record, however, it's difficult to consider Shapiro as just another Hurricane booster. In a reign that ranged from treating recruits to champagne parties on yachts to funding expenses, such as wedding rings for the players, Shapiro took the phrase "Go big or go home" quite literally.

If you have ever seen the movie Blank Check, or just watched ESPN at all this summer, then you know how this story ends.

At the expense of the NCAA, current Miami Head Football Coach, Al Golden, and Hurricane fans everywhere, Shapiro got hit by the karma train, helmet-to-helmet. He now faces a 20-year jail sentence for his illegal dealings with University of Miami football players.

Shapiro describes Miami football in the 2000's as a faux-professional team, and he was the owner. So why has someone, who was so eager to put the Hurricanes on the map just years ago, so eager to bring down the program? Perhaps it is revenge, as most of his friends, family and former Hurricane players have neglected to even lift a finger in his aid.

What a shocker. The same morally sound Miami athletes and administrators that have committed countless NCAA violations, not to mention criminal acts, don't have the ethical sense to help him in a time of need. Who could have seen that coming?

So out of spite, Shapiro wrote to the NCAA last May and described the menagerie that has taken place under their nose for a couple decades. Written with anger and conviction, the letter was described by one NCAA official as "the biggest thing they had ever seen."

The letter has yet to come full circle, but its effects are already on display, which was evident to anyone that watched last week's loss to Maryland.

Though Miami managed to dodge the death penalty, which was only brought into effect once with the Southern Methodist University scandal in 1986, there have already been on-field suspensions for seven of the team's starters.

Off the field, however, the current reproach will be detrimental to the program for future years.

On the other side of the NCAA scandal woes lays Ohio State, who defeated the Hurricanes for the national title in 2003, 31-24, in double overtime. In what started as an exchange of memorabilia and championship rings for tattoos dating as far back as 2002, 28 Ohio State players have since received suspensions and other penalties.

The suspensions have even been manifested in the NFL, where former Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor faces a suspension until week seven with the Oakland Raiders. Former coach Jim Tressel, now a film consultant for the Indianapolis Colts, is also facing a ban until week seven.

Several ESPN analysts are critical of Tressel's suspension and have even called out NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his lenient punishment. Many believe the Colts found a loophole and are manipulating the system by allowing Tressel to serve his penalty out as a film consultant.

University scandals have already begun to spiral out of control, and it's almost certain that more controversy is on the horizon. As a result, the NCAA has considered other options to compensate players to counterbalance the abundance of recent probations.

There is a legitimate argument to be made that college football players should be paid to play for their respective schools. These student athletes help bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to their universities each fall.

A revision to current scholarship methods may be the NCAA's best option to limit recruiting and incentive punishments. There are three alternatives to the policy in place.

The Olympic athlete model, where star players get paid through endorsements, is one potential revision. Another possibility is to provide extra funding alongside scholarships to cover housing and other expenses, one of the most violated areas by big-time programs.

Perhaps the most controversial model is the professional model, where players make a fixed salary.

It will be interesting to see if and how the current compensation method, as well as the circus known as the BCS, will change in the near future.

As a big Miami Hurricane fan, I offer my congratulations to Nevin Shapiro, who got what he wanted. In a city already ridiculed for most of its sports teams and fan base, one of the only programs South Floridians can talk about with pride has been downgraded on account of his letter. It's the dawn of a new era for Hurricane football, although there is a glimmer of hope. Head coach Al Golden may be the guy to return the "U" to glory.

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