Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Please End the Hypocrisy...

No one should be shocked by the latest allegations stemming from the University of Miami football program. If anyone watched the incredible ESPN documentary "The U", it wasn't difficult to ascertain what the program was all about. But like Ohio State and their recently disgraced ex-football coach Jim Tressel, who was fired on the heels of a scandal that morphed into a scathing indictment of his and the school's clear and persistent lack of ethical scruples, it has become painfully apparent that to run a major college powerhouse, such issues will always take a back seat to the hypocrisy with which the NCAA administers the rules governing big-time college athletics with regards to the student-athletes who are exploited to the max and thus look for compensation elsewhere, outside the rules.

It's OK for rich businessmen to attend games in their luxury corporate suites, pay for the privilege of being a team booster, gain access to the elite players of said school and enjoy all the trappings of being close to a high-level Division I program. It's fine for individual schools to re-align themselves to better exploit the massive TV revenues that are changing the landscape of college sports, whose boundaries are no longer dictated by geography but by big-money television deals. It's justified that coaches at major college campuses rake in millions of dollars in salary and endorsements. The powers that be see no contradiction in selling the likeness of college athletes in the form of jock apparel and video games. Yet these same athletes cannot cash in on their own images and see not one dime of any of the revenue they generate.

This ass-backwards equation makes sense only to those who control the levers of power, akin to Southern slave owners who made enormous sums of generational wealth for their families while those who toiled in the fields got absolutely nothing, some whose families are still mired in poverty to this very day. And the NCAA would love to keep it that way, so long as they can continue to rake in money the players will never benefit from.

And this isn't even the most hypocritical aspect of the situation. One of the defenses that gets thrown around is that revenue-making sports pay for other campus activities that do not, like water polo, swimming, volleyball and archery. So on top of everything else, poor inner-city kids from deprived backgrounds get the insulting pleasure of funding sports for their rich, white suburban undergrad brethren.

The University of Texas recently signed a 20-year, $300 million dollar TV deal with ESPN that will make their sports programs available to cable subscribers all over the country, all on their very own channel. No other team in the Big 12 Conference can compete with the type of exposure, money and influence this contract will buy Texas. The TV deal also includes the rights to televise Texas high school football games. How's that for a potential recruiting tool? Juxtapose these circumstances against the glaring discrepancy of the backgrounds of the student-athletes we are talking about, the majority of whom are poor and black, and you'll understand why the sense of outrage over the Miami accusations is muted here on "Busting Chops".

Texas coach Mac Brown finds religion in the guise of a fat cable TV contract...
The man at the center of the controversy is Nevin Shapiro, an ex-Miami Hurricanes booster who is currently serving a 20-year sentence for his role in a $930 million dollar Ponzi scheme. He lived in a $6.1 million, 6,432-square foot mansion on North Bay Road in Miami Beach overlooking the water and threw parties for players on his $1.6 million dollar yacht. He lavished players with gifts, money, jewelery, prostitutes, free meals at fancy restaurants, and nights of utter debauchery at various Miami strip clubs. One story goes that a Miami player impregnated a stripper during a rendezvous in one of the club's Champagne Rooms. Shapiro then gave money to help fund an abortion without telling the player because according to him, the player probably would have wanted to keep the child.

It's all about "The U", baby!!!
Miami had as an unofficial booster Luther Campbell of the infamous 2 Live Crew rap group, who became known around the Miami campus as "Uncle Luke". Campbell was the money man from the late 80's to early 90's, funneling cash, gifts, and entertainment opportunities to football players. Unlike Shapiro, Campbell was never an official booster of the program and never gave money directly to the school, as opposed to Shapiro, who paid the university $12,000 for the privilege of becoming a booster. Another difference was Campbell was and still is a supporter of football from the grass-roots level, funding pee wee leagues all over the South Florida region. According to various reports, Shapiro was considered nothing but a "jock sniffer" who exchanged money for access and celebrity.

I find this description pretty convenient and self-serving, seeing as he is being painted exclusively as the bad guy in this filthy, sordid affair. The reality is, in a place like Miami, money and flash gets you into places normal people could never access. So his behavior, though extreme, was par for the course. If you don't believe me, just ask Nevin's twin brother, from what is apparently another mother-

Shapiro with a famous Miami celebrity...
What Campbell did over the years he was involved with the Miami football program pales in comparison to the transgressions of Shapiro. The details have been duly researched by the good people at Yahoo Sports and have been vehemently denied by all and sundry. Unfortunately for this merry band of degenerate liars, Mr. Shapiro has kept meticulous records of phone calls, receipts and thousands of photos documenting his life as a high-rolling booster and surrogate pimpmeister to the "impressionable and innocent" (yeah, right) young men who were the recipients of his corrupting largesse.

The corruption involved 72 players, 7 coaches and three support staff members from the years 2002 until 2010, when Shapiro was finally carted off to jail. And don't think he was just doing this because he loved being around impoverished inner-city football players. He was part-owner of a sports management company that signed two first-round NFL picks who just so happened to have attended Miami while Shapiro was there handing out dough like an Italian baker.

Shapiro partying it up with Kellen Winslow, Jr.-
The apotheosis of this institutionalized corruption and greed was uncovered when a photo of university president Donna Shalala surfaced accepting a check from Shapiro for $50,000 at a bowling event. She looked to all the world like a crackhead scrambling on the floor for a hit and coming up trumps, her eyes practically bulging out of her fat, hairy, porcine face. Shapiro was handing out money to anyone involved who would take it, and take it they did.

University of Miami President Donna Shalala accepting the now infamous $50,000 check from Shapiro-
Shapiro also has photos of coaches partying it up. All were either in on the take or knew of it and did nothing, including other university staff and personnel. When SMU received the death penalty for similar infractions, their program, one of the best in the country at the time, never recovered. And that was twenty-four years ago. Miami deserves nothing less, but it will be hit only with forced job resignations and terminations, scholarship reductions and bans from lucrative Bowl appearances for a year or two. Then it will be back to the same ol' bullshit of under-the-table graft, greed and corruption. Because major college football is a B-U-S-I-N-E-S-S, and that business is too lucrative for this type of corruption not to continue to thrive.

It's a business whose currency is all about access, schmoozing, influence pedaling and corruption. It has nothing to do with hard world and sacrifice. That bullshit is sold to the players, the ones who actually do the work and receive no compensation for their efforts from the schools they play for. Far be it for some pasty-white administrator to actually get his hands dirty when it is far easier to make friends and influence people with the whoremongers who grease the wheels of this system to their benefit.

I have a simple solution to all of this, which will absolve these colleges of having to lie about not having the money to pay their big-time athletes. Just let the corruption roll without penalties or infractions. Let the players get paid from whoever wants to pay them, and let these ciphers have access to the players they so desperately crave. And legalize it. The NCAA can then step away from this enormous problem it neither has the competence nor the expertise to combat or control. And the world of Division I college sports will finally breathe in a hypocrisy-free zone that's been mutilated by notions of fake contrition and rules that were meant to be broken.

The $1.6 million dollar yacht that saw so much action-

ASS, baby!!! ASS!!! Get it while you can!!!
The big question remains-why did Nevin Shapiro decide to come forward with all this? Exposing his relationship with the Miami football program will not get him a lighter sentence. He felt the players he helped should have supported him during his troubled times, yet they abandoned him in his time of need. Well, it goes to show you this man learned absolutely nothing during his high-rolling days when he was cavorting with these people. Whores are takers, not givers. They will love you only as long as times are good and they can get something from you.

Any of you out there reading this who have wallowed in the mud of the lowlife know exactly what I'm talking about. Strippers are paid to give you attention in exchange for your loot. Same goes with prostitutes and the type of college athletes Shapiro was sponsoring. You cannot buy their love or affection. What they offer is a good time and access to their presence as long as you're willing to foot the bill.

Shapiro thought playing big man was going to net him a network of influential people who would consider him family when times got rough. This was his big mistake. I don't know what he thought he was paying for, but loyalty was not what he got in exchange. He reminds me of Sam Rothstein from the film "Casino", who spent tons of cash attempting to get some sleazebag loser to love him and it turned his personal life into a living hell. Here is the lesson for all you wanna-be boosters out there who think money buys you love-learn from Nevin Shapiro and save your cash. It will come in handy when you get in trouble, as opposed to the people you attempt to help who will run out on you faster than Deion Sanders doing a 4.2 forty-yard dash while a student at Florida State. And it doesn't get any faster than that, ladies and gents.

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