A few of the athletes called out by Nevin Shapiro are firing back at the former University of Miami Hurricane booster.
Shapiro, the former booster and self-described lifelong fan of the Hurricanes, named 72 college athletes (most football players) that he provided impermissible benefits to over the past decade. Many of the athletes are now stars in the NFL including Vince Wilfork, Jon Beason, Devin Hester and Jonathan Vilma. There are also current Miami Hurricanes implicated in the report. Shapiro allegedly gave benefits to players for bounties when they did something good on the field.
The evidence compiled by Charles Robinson, investigative report for Yahoo!, is damning if true. There are numerous copies of photos of Shapiro and the athletes included in the report. The NCAA is reportedly working with Shapiro as it compiles a case on the University of Miami.
While most have remained mum on the subject, a few have spoken out against Shapiro. One of the accused - New York Giants defensive back, Antrel Rolle, spoke to reporters recently and dismissed Shapiro's legitimacy.
Right now, to me it doesn't matter what's true and what's not true. There's nothing for me to comment on with this guy. Obviously, he's on a rampage to cause havoc. I'm just gonna let him do his talking because honestly right now it's really irrelevant. It don't concern me at this point, Rolle said.
Rolle, who never flat out denied the charged, had a theory as for why Shapiro has gone off.
He's angry, said Rolle. If you get 20 years in prison, some things like that happen, you're gonna find someone to take it out on, right? I guess we got to bite that bullet. We understand our place and we understood our place back then when we were in college. We also understand what he's trying to do.
Rolle declined to comment further on the situation, other than to say he is concerned about his alma mater and said its bringing unnecessary drama to the program. Vilma, currently with the New Orleans Saints, also dismissed Shapiro as legitimate.
I feel it's unfortunate that things are being brought up right now from a guy who's in jail, Vilma said. You can go back and forth with someone who's in jail and try to explain yourself. I really don't want to do that. That's very unnecessary. I'll leave it at that.
Michael Huyghue, current commissioner of the United Football League, also lashed out against Shapiro. According to Shapiro, Huyghue, his former business partner in Axcess Sports, funneled money to players. Huyghue represented players like Wilfork and Beason.
Nevin Shapiro made an unsolicited approach more than a decade ago with regard to investing in my sports company Axcess Sports & Entertainment. At no time did he or other individual investors in Axcess Sports hold a management role and neither were they involved in the day-to-day business operations of the company. There is no substance to the story and these allegations, and during a seven-year time period, Axcess Sports only signed three players from the University of Miami, Huyghue said in a statement.
During his time as a Hurricanes booster, Shapiro said he provided illegal funds acquired in a Ponzi scheme to the University of Miami. Shapiro was convicted for the Ponzi scheme and is currently serving a 20-year sentence at a prison in New Jersey. University of Miami President Donna, who in one of Shapiro's photos is seen taking a check from the disgraced booster, released a statement on the report.
As a member of the University family, I am upset, disheartened, and saddened by the recent allegations leveled against some current and past student-athletes and members of our Athletic Department. Make no mistake-I regard these allegations with the utmost of seriousness and understand the concern of so many of you, Shalala said.
She said the University would get to the bottom of the report and its allegations. NCAA president Mark Emmert in a statement said the assertions are true, the alleged conduct at the University of Miami is an illustration of the need for serious and fundamental change.