According to this article over on Rivals.com, the University of Miami is looking into the possible suspension of several players named by Nevin Shapiro as recipients of his largess with other people's money. The interesting thing to me in this article, though, is that Shapiro has now suggested involvement in the basketball program as well, something I had evidently not picked up on among all the college football reporting:
The football players who were named by Shapiro in interviews with Yahoo Sports are Jacory Harris, Vaughn Telemaque, Ray Ray Armstrong, Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson, Marcus Forston, Olivier Vernon, Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, Dyron Dye, JoJo Nicholas and Sean Spence. Shapiro also alleged to Yahoo Sports that he paid $10,000 to ensure that basketball player DeQuan Jones signed with the Hurricanes. [My emphasis]
Jones is a 2008 Rivals 5* player, and the #4 small forward (#23 overall player) in Rivals 150 for 2008. I had somehow missed the fact of his inclusion in the Shapiro matter earlier, but here is the Yahoo! account.
What this suggests is that there was a bidding war for Jones' services, if Shapiro is telling the truth -- a dicey proposition at best, but a possibility we must take seriously under the circumstances -- and that could suggest that some of the other schools known to be involved with Jones might be implicated. Were there any other schools involved with Jones that had some NCAA difficulties around that time? Why, yes!
The smoke comes from Tiny Gallon and Willie Warren, the Sooners' best two players this past season, who have been linked to a Merrill Lynch financial advisor in Florida. The financial advisor reportedly wired $3,000 into a bank account held by Gallon and his mother. And the smoking gun? Phone records connect a member of the Oklahoma coaching staff, Oronde Taliaferro, to the financial advisor.
Of course, all this could be coincidental, and probably is. Still, it isn't too hard for the suspicious to see a bidding war between two rival money men, both coincidentally based in Florida. Truth be told, though, we don't know who the bidding war was among, but I do know this -- if I were an NCAA investigator, that would be high on my priority list to find out.
The immediate ramifications, though, are for Missouri's Frank Haith, who was the Miami basketball coach at the time. The NCAA has contacted him about the allegations, but if they are proven to be true, there is little doubt that Haith's time in Mizzou will be over before it really started.
A Western Kentucky basketball assistant coach, Jake Morton, is directly implicated by Shapiro, as this Bowling Green news report explains. Shapiro claims he gave Morton the money at his house. Western is looking into the matter.
I'm sure it will all come out in the wash, but lest you, like me, failed to notice the Jones matter and thought that Shapiro's involvement was purely football related, it's not. How far and wide did Shapiro spread his ill-gotten gains? It seems we are about to find out, and it may wind up implicating schools who have never heard Shapiro's name until the Yahoo! story broke.