NCAA starts probe of Hurricanes

Published 1:59 am Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Associated Press

MIAMI — NCAA investigators visited the University of Miami campus Monday looking into claims that more than a dozen former or current football players received gifts and services from convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro, his attorney said.

Shapiro has told the NCAA he provided players with the use of a yacht and other favors, said his attorney, Maria Elena Perez. Shapiro and Perez have been talking with the NCAA about the matter for a couple of months and provided documentation, she said.

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University officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. School officials and current players were expected to be interviewed.

Shapiro’s relationship with the program dates back about a decade. Some of the alleged incidents occurred in the past four years, which would be within the NCAA’s statute of limitations regarding violations.

Shapiro, 42, was sentenced in June by a New Jersey federal judge to 20 years in prison for his role in an investment fraud scheme. He pleaded guilty to charges related to running a multistate Ponzi scheme that prosecutors say left more than 60 investors in Florida, Indiana and New Jersey with nearly $100 million in losses.

Perez said Shapiro had cooperated with bankruptcy and government officials to try to recover as much money as possible for his victims.

“During the course of this, things came up which resulted in the investigation, which is ongoing,” Perez said.

Shapiro was generous with his investors’ money, donating to athletic groups and charities and getting a student-athlete lounge named after him at Miami by donating $150,000. Shapiro’s name was removed from the lounge in 2008 after the school said he did not follow his pledged donation-payment plan.