How the Miami Hurricanes' Nevin Shapiro Scandal Became the Most Boring in College Sports
When Yahoo! Sports reporter Charles Robinson first hinted to the world that he was working on a story that became the Miami Hurricane's scandal, he promised on ESPN Radio that on the outrage meter, it would merit a ten.
Yeah, in retrospect he might have wanted to dial that back to a seven or an eight. Somehow, the story has become pretty boring in comparison to all the bonkers college football scandals that have broken since then.
At the time, it seemed like nothing could ever really top the Hurricane's Nevin Shapiro scandal in pure craziness. The story had it all: a Ponzi schemin' man child who actually thought he could buy college football players as friends and seemed generally hurt and confused when they went off to the NFL and ignored him; improper benefits; 72 implicated athletes; abortions; even hooker parties on a yacht!
Outrage burned bright at the time. Sports writers were calling for the death penalty (and the page views that come along with such an argument). Fans of other schools that had endured recent scandals were quick to point out that things like trading memorabilia for tattoos seemed pretty innocuous in comparison. People theorized that newly hired head coach Al Golden should abruptly quit and sue the school.
Then something funny happened. People stopped talking about it. The effects on recruiting, when taking into consideration along with all the Canes' non-scandal related problems, wasn't disastrous. The story became something of a footnote. A cover story in The Atlantic on NCAA scandals published just two months later barely even mentioned it. It's like everyone forgot this all involved alleged hooker parties on a yacht.
Of course, just three months later, the real worst scandal in college football history erupted at Penn State.
Even if the University of Miami received its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA this week as the Herald has reported might happen, the news would be overshadowed by the increasingly perplexing Manti Te'o situation.
The cynical take is that the 'Canes caught some lucky breaks with timing. From a PR standpoint, it's like a B-List celebrity announcing their divorce on the same day that Brad and Angelina break up. No one who cares about such things would really have time to care.
Even locally the story has been overshadowed in sports circles by both LeBron's run with the Heat, and the outrage over the Marlins' stadium and subsequent fire sale.
Though, there are a few other reasons why the Canes scandal never really crossed over to mainstream news.
1. No one talked. There's indications that the NCAA has had a hard time getting people to talk about any of Shapiro's allegations in private, and no one of much consequence has confirmed the allegations publicly. Hell, not even one of those hookers on that yacht came forward to spill any dirt. This wasn't a story that was teased out over time, with more voices and participants adding new details. This was one man's giant allegations dropped all at once.
2. The allegations didn't really run afoul of Miami's reputation. Penn State and Norte Dame built up an image of college football at its most righteous with scandal free teams and honorable student athletes. Both teams had become pompous while reveling in that reputation. Despite President Donna Shalala's attempts to do otherwise, most casual college football fans haven't shaken the image of the outlaw '80s Hurricanes. The response was, "Oh, Miami players went to hooker parties on a Ponzi schemers yacht? Sounds about right. Whatever."
3. It's hard to say there were real victims. In fact, some used the story to rail against the NCAA and the idea of college football players being real "amateurs."
4. If anyone has become sympathetic, its the people associated with the team now. Most people are aware that all the people who have been fingered in the scandal are long gone. New players, coaches and an athletic director are left to pick up the pieces and take the punishments. If anything the line has become, "Poor Al Golden. Guy is doing a good job considering the situation."
5. The team wasn't really winning anyway. The scandal allegedly started in 2002. The Canes' 2001 national championship is not in danger of being vacated. It's almost ironic how the timeline of the scandal concurred with the fall of the team from national prominence. If the 'Canes had continued to rack up national titles during that time, the story might seem more important.
Of course, the 'Canes story isn't over with. There's still a chance that once the NCAA findings become public, if they really do confirm some of Shapiro's most damning accusations, the story could explode once again.
Though, people involved will remain silent, the current staff will remain sympathetic, and people's response will still be, "Well, that's the 'Canes for you."
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