How truthful was Nevin Shapiro in his bombshell allegations about the University of Miami football program? At least one person implicated by Shapiro in the story has come out to strongly deny any wrong doing on his part.
Michael Huyghue, now the commissioner of the United Football League, and formerly the owner of the AxcessSports Entertainment agency, has now furthered his claims that many of Shapiro's allegation are false.
In the now infamous Yahoo! Sports article Shapiro claims that he made payments to University of Miami players to ensure that they signed with Axcess:
According to Shapiro, the system for recruiting players to sign with Axcess Sports was actually compartmentalized between himself and Huyghue. The booster would use his close relationship with players to make an introduction to Huyghue, and then he would retreat from agency talk from that point forward and leave it to Huyghue to grow his own relationship and sign the player.
In that vein, Shapiro said it was also up to Huyghue to develop his own financial link to kids, providing his own set of extra benefits to athletes as he saw fit, including cash payments, travel and other inducements. And Shapiro told federal prosecutors that's precisely what Huyghue did, giving multiple illicit benefits, including cash, to several players at Miami. Claims that Huyghue called "fantasy."
Huyghue was quoted as denying the accusation in the Yahoo! story. Though, former running back Tyrone Moss and an anonymous player affirmed that Shapiro did set up relationships between players and Axcess.
Huyghue has now come out even stronger with his claims that the allegations are false.
"[Shapiro] invested in the company unsolicited in 2001, he had no other role," Huyghue has told the Jacksonville Times-Union. "You can call any of the other people at Axcess. We had quarterly meetings. I think he came to one meeting in seven years. I'm not sure what the motivation is [in implicating Huyghue]. I certainly didn't pay players."
"It's ridiculous. There's no substance to it."
Huyghue claimed that Axcess only represented three players from Miami, and says that indicates there was no major scam going on to get Hurricanes to sign with Axcess.
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"We only had three [UM] players in seven years. One of them, Jon Beason, originally signed with another agent. I never recruited him. He and his mother came to me after he thought the negotiations with Carolina [Panthers, team that drafted him] went badly. Jamaal Green was only a fourth-round pick. The other player, Wilfork, now I recruited him, but I didn't pay him a dime. We developed a good relationship. I was the best man at his wedding."
Though, just to play devil's advocate, as a the commissioner of a sports league, Huyghue certainly has plenty of reason to defend his name and ethics.