Yahoo! Sports released a massive investigative story into thousands of alleged improper benefits that Nevin Shapiro, a former booster, says he gave to Miami athletes over several years. Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year federal prison term for running a Ponzi scheme, gave the Miami basketball program $50,000 in 2008. The photo on the right is of Haith, Shapiro and Miami University president Donna Shalala who is allegedly holding the donation check from Shapiro.
Yahoo! investigative reporter Charles Robinson reports:
The booster said his role went one step farther with the basketball program, when he paid $10,000 to help secure the commitment of recruit DeQuan Jones. Shapiro said the transaction was set up by assistant coach Jake Morton in 2007 who acted as the conduit for the funds, and was later acknowledged by head coach Frank Haith in a one-on-one conversation. Haith denied Shapiro’s claims through a University of Missouri spokesman. Morton, who is now at Western Kentucky, didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Shapiro also said he frequently went to strip clubs with Miami players and coaches:
Strip club visits included both coaches and players — something that was referenced in a portion of federal testimony by Chicago real estate investor Sherwin Jarol, who was deposed in Shapiro’s Ponzi case. At one point in his testimony, a recording of which was viewed by Yahoo! Sports, Jarol describes a pair of August 2008 visits to Solid Gold nightclub with Shapiro. He says 'the coach of the Miami basketball' team (Frank Haith) attended one trip.
Shapiro named 39 Miami players or prospective recruits who he says received prostitution paid for by the booster. Due to the sensitivity of the claims, Yahoo! Sports has chosen not to reveal the names of the players Shapiro claims were involved. However, two players confirmed the booster paid for sexual favors for themselves and others during their careers with the Hurricanes.
Haith released this statement denying that he did anything wrong:
In response to a recent news article, I can confirm that the NCAA has asked to speak with me regarding the time I spent at the University of Miami. I am more than happy to cooperate with the national office on this issue and look forward to a quick resolution. The NCAA has instructed me not to comment further at this time in order to protect the integrity of their review, so I appreciate your understanding in this matter. The reports questioning my personal interactions with Mr. Shapiro are not an accurate portrayal of my character and per the above I am unable to comment further.
What makes Haith's alleged connection to Shapiro's shady dealings particularly frustrating for Tiger fans is that he is a relatively unproven head coach. His record at Miami was 129-101, and when he was hired in April, the perception was that the school valued him for his off-the-court qualities more than his previous results.
His bio on the MU athletics website describes him as follows: "A 25-year coaching veteran, Haith brings Big 12 ties, a family atmosphere and impeccable academic success to a Tiger program which has surged back onto the national landscape."
Glowing quotes from other coaches and sports analysts are prominently featured on the site, including this one from Texas coach Rick Barnes:
Most important, Frank will be a great representative for The University of Missouri. He is a quality person, and the Missouri fans are truly going to love his wife, Pam, their son, Corey, and their daughter, Brianna. Frank is a great husband and father and will run the Missouri Basketball program with integrity and character.
The bio also includes this regrettable line:
It wasn't just on the hardwood that Haith led a University of Miami renaissance. His young men were as well-rounded as any in America. They were visible on campus and in the Miami community.
Unfortunately, it sounds like these well-rounded young men may have been among those visible getting squeezers from dancers at strip clubs in the Miami community.
All of this adds up to the possibility that Haith will never coach the Tigers. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that his contract allows for him to be fired for violations from his previous job. The paper reports:
Specifically, the contract accounts for rules violations that 'in the sole judgment of the University, reflect adversely" on it, including "any violation which occurred during prior employment of the Employee at another NCAA member institution.'His contract is available here.
Kansas State football players Bryce and Arthur Brown were also named in the report as players who received improper benefits before they transferred to K-State. In addition to paying for trips for the brothers' parents, Shapiro told Yahoo! that he hung out quite a bit with Arthur.
I gave him a few rides in my car. I gave him cash a few times — not significant amounts. Maybe $100 here [or] $50 here. He was a very quiet individual. We took him to a strip joint called The Cheetah in Hallandale,” he said.
Shapiro said he met Bryce Brown only once, but paid for his family's hotel rooms, and took them out for a pricey lunch. Bryce never played for Miami.
Mizzou released a statement saying they will cooperate with the NCAA, but it sounds like they won't be chatting with reporters anytime.
We are aware of today’s Yahoo! Sports story and the University of Missouri acknowledges that the NCAA has requested to speak with Coach Haith regarding his time at the University of Miami. As a member of the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference, the University of Missouri will cooperate fully throughout this process. Per the NCAA’s request and guiding bylaws, we are unable to comment further in order to protect the integrity of their review.