Tag:Donna Shalala
Posted on: August 18, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: August 18, 2011 10:51 am
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Barry Alvarez, son lost $1M in Shapiro scheme

Posted by Chip Patterson

As the dust begins to settle from the initial shock of the Yahoo! investigative report on Miami football, some of the details regarding Nevin Shapiro are beginning to rise to the surface. Among them, who had this well-connected booster involved in his wholesale grocery Ponzi scheme that landed him 20 years behind bars?

One of them is Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez.

Alvarez and his wife, Cynthia, reportedly lost $600,000 by investing in Shapiro's company. Their son, Chad, also claimed he lost $400,000 in the scheme. The Herald reports rumors that the Wisconsin AD may have been introduced to Shapiro by Miami president Donna Shalala, former president at UW.

That rumor was squashed by a Miami attorney who represents the bankruptcy trustee on the case. Court papers instead list one of Shapiro's investors in Naples as the connect between the booster and the Alvarez family.  The athletic director released a statement on Thursday.

“Like dozens of others, I was introduced by a friend several years ago to an investment opportunity with Capital Investments USA, Inc., which was the company being run by Mr. Shapiro," Alvarez said.  "I was introduced to Mr. Shapiro on one occasion over the years, but had no contact with him outside that one introduction. Eventually I became aware that the investment I had made was in jeopardy due to Mr. Shapiro’s legal troubles. At that point, I retained legal counsel in an effort to recoup the money I had invested. That process is still ongoing.”

As Shapiro's status rises with the NCAA investigation, chances are more well-known names will be attached to his $930 million scheme. As someone who spent a lot of money to get to college football's inside circle, he likely had numerous opportunities to run his con on powerful people with money to spend.
Posted on: August 17, 2011 4:48 pm
 

Donna Shalala issues statement on Shapiro report

Posted by Adam Jacobi 

Miami president Donna Shalala is not having a pleasant couple of days recently. Her school has been besieged by the Yahoo! Sports report of former booster (and convicted embezzler) Nevin Shapiro detailing the litany of NCAA violations committed with the football and basketball teams. Even Shapiro's attorney doesn't think Shalala knew about the violations as they were being committed, but the picture of Shalala grinning at a $50,000 check (of Ponzi-earned money, as it would turn out) presented to her and basketball coach Frank Haith at a fundraiser is now one of the most indelible images of the scandal.

Clearly, Shalala had to say something, and here is the statement her office issued Wednesday, in full.

August 17, 2011

To the University Community:

Since its founding more than 85 years ago, the University of Miami has stood for excellence in higher education in every endeavor, every degree, and every student. Our more than 15,000 students, on three campuses in 11 schools and colleges, and over 150,000 alumni expect our core values to remain steadfast and true in times of extraordinary achievement as well as those rare times when those values are called into question.

As a member of the University family, I am upset, disheartened, and saddened by the recent allegations leveled against some current and past student-athletes and members of our Athletic Department. Make no mistake—I regard these allegations with the utmost of seriousness and understand the concern of so many of you. 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.

I am in daily communication with our Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, Director of Athletics, and counsel, and will continue to work closely with the leaders of our University.

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. 

Posted on: August 17, 2011 3:03 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 3:39 pm
 

AUDIO: Shapiro attorney says Shannon, Coker knew

Posted by Adam Jacobi

One of the names most conspicuously absent from the Nevin Shapiro report produced by Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday was that of former Miami head coach Randy Shannon, whose career fell entirely within the timeframe of Shapiro's allegations. It made sense, on some level; Shannon's always been something of a "by the rules, at all costs" type of coach, and his discipline and integrity are generally thought of as above reproach. He's one of the good guys, as the story goes.

Slight problem: Nevin Shapiro's attorney Maria Elena Perez has other ideas about Shannon's role in the scandal. To that end, Perez was on "Armando and the Amigo," a radio program with Armando Salguero (Miami Herald columnist), Chris Perkins (CBSSports.com Dolphins RapidReporter), and Larry Milian (longtime Miami-area radio personality) on 640-AM WMEN in Miami-Fort Lauderdale.

For those unable or unwilling to listen to Ms. Perez's statement, here's what she told Salguero, Perkins, and Milian:

Perez: "Well, I wouldn't say that [Miami president] Donna Shalala knew that there was NCAA violations going on. She obviously knew that Nevin was a benefactor, someone that was giving money to the school, because there's a picture of her receiving a check at an event at Lucky Strike on the beach, it's photographed on the Yahoo! Sports article. So I don't think that she knew that there were NCAA violations, but I know that the coaches knew. And I know that--
Host: "Which coaches?"
Perez: "--the organization knew, and that's why they let him lead them out of the tunnel on a couple of occasions!"
Host: "Randy Shannon knew?" 
Perez: "Excuse me?"
Host: "Randy Shannon knew?"
Perez: "I believe, based on what my client has indicated, that Randy Shannon did know."
Host: "Larry Coker knew?"
Perez: "Um... I believe, based my client's representations, that Larry Coker did know."
Host: "And obviously, in the story, Frank Haith--"
Perez: "That is correct."
Host: "Frank Haith knew."
Perez: "That is correct."

One hopes for Shannon's sake that Perez's recollection of Shapiro's statements is incorrect, and given that we're talking about 100 hours of jailhouse testimony to Yahoo! Sports alone, that's not out of the realm of possibility. If she's right though, and if Shapiro is accurate that Shannon, Coker, and Haith all knew about the illegal activity, then Miami is in a world of NCAA trouble.

Posted on: August 16, 2011 6:26 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 2:33 am
 

Report: Miami coaches knew of massive violations

Posted by Chip Patterson and Adam Jacobi

Former Miami booster and indicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro provided thousands of dollars in impermissible benefits to "at least 72 student-athletes" between 2002 and 2010, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.

The investigation included over 100 hours of jailhouse interviews with Shapiro, along with financial records and corroboration from several sources - including former Miami players - to support the claims. Among the most alarming details to the program include seven former coaches and three athletic support staff who either witnessed, had knowledge of, or even participated in Shapiro committing all kinds of NCAA violations. The report details the life of a rampant rule-breaker who was never told to stop.

"At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to: 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," Robinson writes.

One former Miami player, running back Tyrone Moss, told Yahoo! Sports he accepted $1,000 from Shapiro around the time he was entering college. "Hell yeah, I recruited a lot of kids for Miami," Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports. "With access to the clubs, access to the strip joints. My house. My boat. We're talking about high school football players. Not anybody can just get into the clubs or strip joints. Who is going to pay for it and make it happen? That was me."

The University of Miami has not commented specifically on the allegations made by Shapiro, as is generally the policy of schools under NCAA investigation, except to say that Shapiro was not as forthcoming to the school and to the NCAA as he was to Yahoo! Sports.

“When Shapiro made his allegations nearly a year ago, he and his attorneys refused to provide any facts to the university,” Miami associate for communications Chris Freet said. “We notified the NCAA enforcement officials of these allegations. We are fully cooperating with the NCAA and are conducting a joint investigation. We take these matters very seriously.”

Shapiro was once one of Miami's most prominent boosters, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars (and committing $250,000 more) to the football program, and presenting head basketball coach Frank Haith (now of Missouri) and current Miami president Donna Shalala with a check for $50,000 -- earmarked for the basketball program -- at one fundraiser. Shapiro alleges that his donations were was enough for Miami's brass to look the other way on the litany of violations he was perpetrating because they were so desperate for donations.

In fact, not only did Miami officials cast a blind eye to Shapiro, they embraced him as a booster, naming a student lounge after him and letting him lead the team onto its home field before games -- twice. In fact, former Miami athletic director Paul Dee maintained as of Tuesday that Miami "didn't have any suspicion that he was doing anything like this. He didn't do anything to cause concern." Dee is the former chair of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, having served the maximum allowable nine-year term as chair. 

Miami report fallout

Shapiro said he gave money, cars, yacht trips, jewelry, televisions and other gifts to a long list of notable former Hurricanes including Vince Wilfork, Jon Beason, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester, Willis McGahee and the late Sean Taylor.

The potential fall-out from this report could be devastating to the Miami athletic department. Miami's football program was hit with serious sanctions in 1995. Many thought that the program would be protected by any allegations because of the NCAA's four-year statute of limitations. However, under NCAA bylaw 36.2.3 an investigation can expand beyond the statute if information reveals that in individual tied to a university has engaged in "a pattern of willful violations" over a sustained period beyond the previous four years.

One of the most damning aspects of the report was that while Shapiro was a booster for the Hurricanes, he was also acting as a runner for a sports agency -- Axcess Sports & Entertainment -- that he also owned a minority share of. Shapiro's partner in that agency, former NFL agent and current UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue, vehemently denied Shapiro's charges to the Associated Press.

"It's just fantasy," Huyghue said. "He never had any role in my company. He didn't have the acumen to represent players."

Yahoo! Sports reported that Axcess signee Vince Wilfork received $50,000 and a pair of Cadillac Escalades from Shapiro on behalf of the agency, however, and that Hester recognized Shapiro as a runner (though Hester did not name which agent).

Among the litany of gifts and incentives that Shapiro lavished on the Hurricanes included a $5,000 bounty on rival quarterbacks Chris Rix of Florida State and Tim Tebow of Florida. Neither quarterback was knocked out of a game against Miami, but Shapiro said Rix was targeted several time by Miami defenders.

“We pounded the (expletive) out of [Rix],” Shapiro said. “Watch the tape of those games. You’ll see so many big hits on him. Guys were all going after that $5,000 in cash. [Jon Vilma] tried to kill him – just crushed him – a couple of times trying to get that $5,000. And he almost got it, too.” 

Vilma, a current member of the New Orleans Saints, did not comment to Yahoo! Sports.

Now, Shapiro's prediction of the "death penalty" for Miami -- an entire season's cancellation, which is punishment only meted out by the NCAA once, to flagrant and repeat offenders Southern Methodist, in 1987 -- will probably not come true. Robinson even said as much in an interview on ESPN on Tuesday night, saying the idea isn't "reasonable or possible with any program anymore."

And yet it might be. For perhaps the first time since that fateful day in February 1987, the notion of a "death penalty" is now at least a remote possibility. For Miami, that means some of the NCAA's strongest sanctions are likely in store, so even if the worst-case scenario doesn't come true, the once-storied program will probably be damaged for years and years to come.  

AP Sports Writers Steven Wine, Eric Olson, Cliff Brunt and RB Fallstrom contributed to this story.

Posted on: February 22, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 12:46 pm
 

Golden looking to speed things up at Miami

Posted by Chip Patterson

Randy Shannon was known for his even-keeled nature, rarely seen with outbursts of enthusiasm or anger on the Hurricanes sideline.  That calm nature may have rubbed off a bit on the Miami practice atmosphere, because new head coach Al Golden has made it clear one of his first changes will be enchancing the attitude and tempo of the Hurricanes' practices.  Golden recently addressed his plans for Spring Practice, which begins March 5.

"After watching three of the [bowl] practices, the first thing we have to do is change the speed and overall tempo of the practice," Golden told the Sun Sentinel. "And the energy and enthusiasm that I witnessed in the previous practices, I'd like to enhance that. We want to be an up-tempo, better-conditioned team.

Golden went on to express his desire for a tougher, and more disciplined team.  The Hurricanes were dead last in the ACC in penalties and penatly yards in 2010.  Many times Miami fans saw game-changing plays called back for a minor lapse in judgement, and the former Temple head coach hopes to change that in 2011.  Of all the new coaches in the ACC, Golden might be one of the more interesting situations.  The New Jersey native has never coached south of Virginia until now, and his only previous head coaching experience was at his previous job with the Owls.  Golden has an opportunity to create his legacy as a head coach with one of the most noteworthy programs of the last 30 years.

Or he could butt heads with Donna Shalala and be gone in 3-4 years.  But that's why we watch.     


Posted on: December 1, 2010 2:20 pm
 

Donald Trump offers Miami free advice: hire Leach

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We already knew that Mike Leach has one major player in his corner for the Miami job in the person of Mike Leach , but as we've been reminded today, he's got friends in some very high places. Like, Trump Tower high. As in Donald Trump his own self, who befriended Leach several years ago and recommended him to Miami president (and Trump acquaintance) Donna Shalala before Randy Shannon was hired in 2006.

After Shannon's firing, it would appear Trump might have had the right idea after all, not surprisingly for someone who knows from hiring and firing (or so television would have us believe). Maybe also unsurprisingly for someone with the self-confidence to wear Trump's hair, he hasn't been above reminding Shalala of that, and in the most perfectly "billionaire eccentric" manner possible: a handwritten note scrawled across the Palm Beach Post 's story reporting Shannon's dismissal.
No, really: you can see the note for yourself right here . The message:
Donna – You made a big mistake when you did not take my advice and hire Mike Leach of Texas Tech – look what happened to them since he left – (they knew he was leaving) – Jealous! Hire Coach Leach and you will be #1 – And you can now get him for the right price. Best wishes, Donald."
While we're not sure what "Jealous!" is supposed to mean exactly, it's worth noting that otherwise, Trump is mostly on the ball: Tech is almost unquestionably worse off for his departure, and hiring a coach with Leach's impeccable college track record seems like a much, much better idea than trying an NFL retread who's been out of coaching for two years and college coaching for more than 20.

Besides, the U has always been on the cutting edge of celebrity fanhood, and bringing Trump into the stable would be quite the coup; you know he and Luke Campbell would get along famously. Make this happen, Miami.

HT on note image: DocSat .

Posted on: November 28, 2010 12:10 am
Edited on: November 28, 2010 12:11 am
 

So who replaces Randy Shannon?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

So now that it's official and we know for a fact that Randy Shannon has been fired by Miami, I suppose it's about time we got to speculating about who is going to replace him in Coral Gables.  Though the program hasn't been what it used to be, Miami is still the type of job that plenty of coaches wouldn't mind trying on for size.

After all, Florida is still a hotbed of football talent, and it's not like the ACC isn't there for the taking.  So who are some of the names likely to come up in the coming weeks or months?  Miami has said it will begin a national search, so just about anybody is in play.

Let's look at some of the likely suspects.

Mark Richt -- It sounded like Mark Richt would be in danger of losing his job earlier this season, but things have since calmed down at Georgia.  Still, that doesn't mean he wouldn't consider leaving the grind of the SEC for the sunny beaches of Miami.  After all, he liked the school so much he did decide to go to college there.

Dan Mullen -- Another SEC coach that the 'Canes may want to consider poaching.  Unlike Richt, he's at an SEC school that is considered more of a stepping stone than a destination.  Plus, if Mullen can do the job he's done in Starkville with a perennial bottom-feeder in the SEC, imagine what he could do at Miami.

Mike Leach -- As far as I'm concerned, there won't be a coaching vacancy anywhere that I don't think Mike Leach should be considered for.  College football needs it's Pirate King, and with Miami so close to the beach, Leach will finally have a place to keep his pirate ship.

Gus Malzahn -- There won't be many schools looking for a head coach who won't give Malzahn consideration.  He's been successful everywhere he's been, especially with what he has done with Cam Newton and Auburn this year.  He's an offensive innovator that will get a shot somewhere, so why not Miami?

Mario Cristobal -- A bit of a darkhorse candidate here.  Cristobal is currently the head coach at FIU, who just won the Sun Belt Conference on Saturday.  He also happens to be a former offensive lineman for the Hurricanes.

Tommy Tuberville -- I'm sure Miami could get him if it asked, but really, why would it?

Howard Schnellenberger -- Come on, Donna Shalala.  You know you want to.

Ron Prince -- A big name coach would be nice, but a power towel would be better.

These are just some of the names that are likely to come up, obviously, there will probably be many more floated around before Miami finally does settle on it's new head coach.  That's what happens anytime a big-time program begins a coaching search.
Posted on: November 24, 2010 3:04 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2010 3:09 pm
 

Randy Shannon's job is safe, for now

Posted by Chip Patterson

Miami head coach Randy Shannon has spent most of his football career in South Florida.  His roots in Miami are so deep, it is nearly impossible to imagine Shannon anywhere else.  After playing on the Hurricanes' 1987 National Championship team, Shannon returned to Miami after a brieft NFL stint as a graduate assistant and later assistant coach.  Shannon then made the big jump to the NFL, joining (you guessed it!) the Miami Dolphins.  He then returned to the Hurricanes as a defensive assistant and eventually was named head coach.  Despite Shannon's deep roots in the Miami area, he is beginning to catch some criticism from the Miami faithful.

No matter what the critics are saying, Shannon still has the support of the Miami brass.  The Miami Herald reports that despite this year's disappointing 5-3 conference finish, University President Donna Shalala still has confidence that Shannon is the man for the job.  The report goes on to suggest that there are some trustees who would like to see a change, but as long as Shannon is not deterring donors - his job is safe for the moment.   

When Miami joined the ACC, the expectation was for "The U" to quickly establish dominance and take their place among the conference's elite.  But since Randy Shannon took the reigns at Miami, the Hurricanes have not finished better than third in their own division.  Shannon's .500 conference record does not exactly live up to the same standards of the Miami squads he played on and coached for in the late 1980's and early 1990's.  Shannon could start to silence his critics with a berth to the ACC Championship Game, it is awfully difficult to establish conference dominance without ever winning your own division.
 
 
 
 
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