Whitlock, who left Kansas City last summer in either a blaze of glory or a tragic, self-indulgent implosion, depending on whether you like him or not, took to his Fox Sports column yesterday to personally attack Yahoo! Sports writer Charles Robinson. Yahoo! recently published a massive story Robinson wrote about former University of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro's claims that he gave Hurricane players all kinds of improper benefits, including paying for sexual favors, giving players cash, and taking players for rides on his yacht. Shapiro is in prison for running a $930 million Ponzi scheme.
Robinson spent 11 months researching the story, which included more than 100 hours of jailhouse interviews with Shapiro. Robinson called dozens of players Shapiro claimed to have assisted. He tracked down a forest's worth of documents and receipts, and he even got some players to admit receiving cash or perks from Shapiro. He systematically outlined the benefits that each accused player allegedly received from Shaprio, and Yahoo! broke the player profiles into separate Web pages, like this one for current K-State player Arthur Brown (he transferred from Miami).
But all that wasn't good enough for Whitlock. He wrote, "The Yahoo! story was written to generate carnage the same way James O’Keefe’s ACORN video was produced to destroy that organization." And he contended that the impressive documentation Robinson put together isn't a sign of a well-researched investigation that will bring serious changes to Miami athletics. Nah, it's just an indication of a hack trying to justify 11 months of work. From his column:
Shapiro is a poisonous tree. You can’t trust his fruit. You can’t disguise his poison with stats — 11 months, 100 hours of jailhouse interviews, 21 human sources, including nine former Miami football players, 1,000 pictures, 20,000 financial documents, 5,000 pages of cellphone records, a $1.6 million yacht, $80,000 in receipts at nightclubs, 72 players with possible NCAA violations and nearly 100 interviews.
The stats reveal Robinson’s desperation. For nearly a year, he turned over his life to a congenital liar, and there was no way he was walking away with a simple story: A Miami con man fooled most of Florida, including the Miami athletic department, and took Miami athletes to expensive dinners, popular South Beach nightspots, gave them access to the private parties he threw for himself, friends and professional athletes and steered Vince Wilfork to a sports agency. That’s a good story. But it doesn’t make you the toast of American sports journalism.
Whitlock goes on to say that it's clear Robinson's reporting can't be trusted because he didn't find any evidence of drug use. He wrote, "One word is missing from the Yahoo! story: Drugs. You can’t tell this story accurately, honestly or credibly without addressing the drug issue. Drugs would raise legitimate questions about the nature of Shapiro’s relationships with the handful of anonymous sources backing (and/or refuting) Shapiro’s claims. Drugs would tell us a lot about Nevin Shapiro. But the Yahoo! story would leave you to believe Shapiro operated in America’s Cocaine Capital, allegedly arranged strippers and hookers for seemingly half of The U, spent his nights in VIP areas at nightclubs and strip clubs partying with 20-somethings, and no one smoked a joint, snorted coke, popped X, swallowed OxyContin or even took Advil."
So, there you have it. Documentation proves Robinson is merely justifying writing the story, and the lack of a drug-related subplot shows that he didn't do his job.
Robinson went on Nick Wright's radio show yesterday hoping to confront Whitlock about his claims, but Whitlock wouldn't play ball. At least the interview allowed Robinson, who sounded exasperated and confused about why Whitlock is attacking him, to make his case for his reporting, his refusal to speculate on athletes' drug use, and how he got the documents. Guess what. Shapiro didn't hand them over. It's worth listening to.
Meanwhile, the NCAA seems to think Robinson's reporting is sound. They've suspended eight Miami football players.