1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 29. This week marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington at which Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have A Dream" speech. Keep the dream alive! 2) Here's a hint of the breadth of my music tastes: Links to new songs from forthcoming albums by Eminem and Elton John. Click Berzerk for Em (warning, bad words) and Mexican Vacation for Elt. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The legacies of Howard Schnellenberger with poll, Dolphin roster cuts, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).
INSIDE THE MIND OF NEVIN SHAPIRO: A LETTER FROM FEDERAL PRISON: I wrote a blog item earlier this week blasting the NCAA for the length of its continuing investigation of Miami in the Nevin Shapiro case, and Shapiro responded to me with a lengthy email from federal prison. I am sharing the email here because this is the central figure in the UM case, a former renegade booster now serving hard time on a Ponzi scheme conviction. Shapiro is pictured, along with a T-shirt reflecting how most Canes fans feel about him. I know some of you object (strongly) to my giving Shapiro this forum, but I simply offer a glimpse into his mind. Publishing what he says does not mean I endorse any of it. My reply speaks for how I feel. Whether you think what Shapiro writes here makes him seem delusional or anything else is for you to decide. The following is as close to verbatim as possible. I only edited/condensed slightly and softened profanity. Shapiro's letter has a background shade of gray. After that I offer brief thoughts of my own in a response that bears a background shade of light green.
SHAPIRO'S LETTER TO ME:
This is Nevin Shapiro. Although you have dogged the s--- out of me for 24 months and 9 days to be exact as of the writing of this letter, I still feel as if I need to make you aware and educate you on the reality and truth behind your commentary regarding UM and this fraudulent operation known as the NCAA. I am mailing you an article from this past week's USA Today which discusses the USC probationary status for a parallel comparison. You can choose to not read it, as this is your right, but I recommend that you do for the mere fact of being fair to your loyal readers and giving them reality as opposed to fantasy. Let's be clear and I'll be respectful yet direct in this letter, which will lay out facts not hypotheses to you. USC got four years probation for what amounted to 2 individuals, Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo. That is two players, and that investigation took approximately four years. Here is the math and it comes with an explanation. The University of Miami had 114 players involved, 72 of which were confirmed because of what the NCAA thought was used in the initial Yahoo Sports story, and the reason it wasn't 114 and "only" 72 I have no idea. That amount didn't even include walk-ons or maybe they just weren't scholarship players. There were 6 coaches involved,the entire equipment staff and 3 University Administrators and specifically 2 Athletic Directors, though they weren't completely guilty, just ignorant by selective amnesia. OK, so let's do the math: 2 players = four years of investigation and 4 years of probation. So what does 125 or so coaches, players and administrators deserve penalty-wise and how long should this have taken? Let's be realistic and practical. Forget my current criminal position and here are the reasons why. For one, nobody and I mean nobody outside of my internal camp realize or know yet what happened in my case, as I was victimized with my lender's money. That will come out shortly once my "guilty plea" is withdrawn. That is another matter for another time and will come to light eventually. Here is the second reason: 9 years worth of bank statements (cash & check deposits), credit card statements, deposed Federal Testimonies and FBI written interviews were presented as evidence. So, in fact, it wasn't my word, it was the documented evidence that subordinated this investigation. So how can you sell to your readers that this is ridiculous and taken too long? Maybe the NCAA is a sad oufit, I don't disagree. But this was also the worst case of violation of rules with no "institutional control" that has ever taken place, SMU included, though in a different era. What makes this matter even worse is this: It is still going on!!! Maybe not what I was doing because my access and network of power in South Florida was pretty strong and tight, but the agent/runner game is thriving and I know because I'm still involved from a distance. I realize the University of Miami is a big client of the Herald's and I realize that you are a hometown writer and respect that position that you must take, but let me share this with you and try to dispute it all that you want. If you were Yahoo Sports,USA Today, Sports Illustrated or just a media outlet from another venue outside of South Florida and were provided what they were all provided with, you would be trying to win a Pulitzer and wouldn't let this rest until you did. If this were a real criminal trial, which it isn't but if it were, the University of Miami would have been (a) indicted on fIrst look in front of a Grand Jury and (b) sentenced to life in prison and (c) possibly given the Death Penalty. That is exactly how gruesome and transparently blatant their charges would be and actually are in comparison to a University who operates within a structure of 1,000 or more other Universities. People are tired of this story just like A-Rod and his PED situation, as am I by now, but I ask these questions of you. Is it time to clean up the Collegiate game once and for all? Wouldn't you if you were a member of the enforcement division or even a University President just want to use this case as your barometer to remake and simplify all of these rules and lay it out in layman's terms? Or is it because it is too time consuming or maybe because you are a writer for the hometown team, let's just say "f--- it" and move on and hope that it doesn't happen again because this was more like a once-in-a-lifetime situation? I personally regret getting involved with this matter, as it took me out of Miami to serve my time while fighting and withdrawing my plea, from a very difficult situation within these walls because of how [this story] was and is portrayed. I read when you wrote about a year ago that "Is anyone else hoping that Nevin Shapiro is having a miserable time in prison?" I want to tell you how that made me feel. I have a mother and a father who have one child (me). I was raised properly, I was educated properly, I was the legal guardian of my two grandparents at the age of 22 years old (unprecedented by the family courts) and I gave time and millions of dollars (my money, not stolen) to many charitable functions and organizations but never wanted publicity for it. Even my $250K donation to a school that I never attended was done when my financial riches were new, legal and could have been used anywhere but I chose to give it to a passion of mine, the University of Miami football program, and this was way before any possible legal hurdles availed themselves. My point is that on the personal stuff, get the facts right because there are people that love and care for me who know what exactly was done to me that the public has not become aware of yet. But back to my point for writing this letter to you and here are some of my final points. You wrote one article earlier in the year about President Shalala making the whole investigation transparent so the public could wage their own opinion. Did that happen or did they (UM) just share what makes them look good in public perception? Did my attorney Maria do anything wrong? Did she? She followed the orders & direction given by a group of [NCAA] individuals that were supposedly the heads of their massive organization, Julie Roe & Ameen Najjar. Why would a billion-dollar entity such as the NCAA have incompetents running their organization and why would Maria be guilty of anything if they were in charge of their organization and she followed their protocol? She wouldn't be, that is the point. And who is to say that those persons mentioned were even incompetent? They weren't. [NCAA president] Mark Emmert is incompetent and needed a scapegoat and found them. Is there any wonder or coincidence that the two "main"investigators were fired before any of this stuff with Maria blew up? Richared Johanningmeir & Ameen Najjar, plus an additional 3 or 4 members either quit or were fired during this investigation. Aren't you curious as a media member as to why? Maybe those investigators who quit were just dumbfounded as to how their job revolves around the enforcement of rules, though the NCAA just stumbled on to the biggest scandal in recent history or in history period and yet they (NCAA) decided to just roll over and play dead? How would you feel if you were an investigator searching for and acquiring the truth and then your boss says "let's just make this go away"? You would be of a different mindset wouldn't you? Of course you would be and don't say anything contrary to that statement. I will not win this war anytime ever with the South Florida media or maybe anywhere else, all because of my currently pending criminal case but let the record show this: Miami gave themselves 2 years of probation voluntarily because they knew that they had to as a mercy plea to the COI [Committee on Infractions]. That's one, but this point is as large as that point. Of all the players mentioned in the initial Yahoo Sports reports, which subsequently was reported in multiple media outlets, none of these former players, most of which are worth in the millions dollar-wise, ever sued Yahoo or any other outlet for damages [for] slander, defamation or any other collectible damage-driven lawsuit. How come? Because they couldn't win a lawsuit. Why? Because to win a lawsuit you must prove that lies were prevalent, witnesses would have to testify and also there were criminal charges that most to all of these players would have walked into if they pressed their arrogant luck of being a professional athlete. Come on, Jon Vilma sued the NFL and they are equivalent to the Mob or maybe even the U.S. Gov't as big as they are, so he could easily pick a fight with Yahoo Sports or any other media outlet who slandered his name. Jose Canseco was a scumbag, no question about it, but he was also correct and proved it without even talking about it after the fact. Is my case different? The facts are the facts, yet the Unversity of Miami is the victim here now? Look, for the record, Greg, so you know: I loved that city and team more than any other thing in my life outside of my family. I love what they have done recruiting-wise to be mentioned in the possibility of reverence again, but let me share this with you: 47 former players were interviewed by the FBI and were prepared to testify against me in Federal Court. Furthermore, President Shalala owed me a great deal more respect than to piss right in my face at the time of my self surrender (April 21, 2010) without knowing anything that had truly taken place. I can't stomach when the UM logo and motto has always been "It's a Cane thing, you wouldn't understand." No, I understand perfectly clear. When you are supporting these guys/takers, pick a word, everything is fine, but when adversity stares you in the face, [they] run away from the subject, or in my case, [from] the guy that did a whole lot more than throw parties on yachts and in nightclubs. You don't know the personal stories involved between me and more than 20-30 of these guys, from Willie Williams to Devin Hester to Sean Taylor, Bryan Pata, Vince Wilfork, Tyrone Moss, Willis McGahee or the Antrell Rolle's of the world. It's not about money, buddy. It never was. It is about supposed family & loyalty, two descriptions opposite of what these former players, coaches and adminsitrators ever reciprocated or demonstrated to one of their own (me) at the the worst possible time of need. Please stop selling the UM Kool-Aid to the public, it's merely a myth just like the Loch Ness Monster. I copied your editor on this email/letter and if you wish to reply feel free to do so and if you wish to print this, feel free to do so as well. Miami is lucky to avoid losing their football program and if you think that they have been severely punished for what they not only allowed to happen within a 9-year period (2001-2010) but also were co-conspirators in these rules of engagement, then you are just in plain denial and don't want to be rational, realistic and perceptive, which I know you are because I read your column weekly.
Respectfully, Nevin Shapiro
MY RESPONSE TO SHAPIRO:
I continue to believe the NCAA investigation of Miami has dragged on much too long, and that UM's significant self-imposed penalties thus far should greatly mitigate against further punishment being too severe. But I also think those volunteered penalties alone were obviously a pretty clear acknowledgment of years of lack of oversight, and of the truth of many of your allegations. Comparing yourself to Jose Canseco was apt. Even the dubious, unpopular messenger you don't want to believe can sometimes be telling the truth. On the other hand, the bitterness you harbor against former UM players and others for abandoning you in your time of need comes through clear in your letter, and that creates the sense you have an axe to grind, which in turn could leave some to think you are out to "get" the university. Your own damaged credibility and the NCAA's embarrassing internal issues in this probe are two other reasons -- along with Miami's self-imposed penalties -- why I think this two-sided mess needs to be put in the past with minimal additional sanctions. On a personal note, I admit some of the shots I have taken at you (especially in the Sunday notes column) have been harsh at times, and I have tried to be more professional in avoiding shots that seem personal. Bottom line? The Nevin Shapiros of the world would not exist if there were not willing athletes with their hands out, but you were the instigator who got Miami in trouble. You say you loved Canes football, and I don't doubt you did once. But you had a misguided way of showing it. You hurt the one you loved, badly. For that, no absolution awaits you.
Sincerely, Greg Cote
Now, on to a couple of quick unrelated blog items:
Poll result: Canes title is Schnellenberger's top legacy: I asked Howard in an interview for this column what he is proudest of, and he mentioned three accomplishments. He didn't rank them but you sure did, with 89.7 percent calling his Miami years most impressive, 8.6% opting for his building FAU football from scratch, and 1.7% citing his turnaround of Louiville. You may still vote.
UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 9 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I kick off our season of Friday NFL prediction pages on Sept. 6, and we began a 10-day countdown that each day will honor outstanding notable birds. Today, at 9 days, we bring you Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson. Who? Lady Bird, of course! That's right, children. The United States of America once had a First Lady in the White House (1963-69) named Lady Bird. We have had eight First Ladies since, all bearing pedestrian names that bow to the great Lady Bird. No funkier moniker has ever graced a presidential spouse. ("Whoa! Hold on one darned second," says Mamie Eisenhower).
Click back. May be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...