Charles Robinson led a Yahoo! Sports blitzkrieg through Coral Gables a day ago, uncovering a massive booster scandal at the University of Miami that will have the Hurricanes athletic department reeling for years if it doesn't turn them into the modern day equivalent of SMU. Along with countless interviews, Robinson's 11-month investigation included audits of thousands of business documents, cell phone records, and credit card bills to shed light on a decade's worth of improper benefits given to Miami football players from booster Nevin Shapiro. It's one of the strongest pieces of investigative sports journalism you'll ever see.
Yahoo! alleges that Shapiro provided Hurricane athletes with all of the following:
- Private yacht access.
- Gifts including suits, watches, televisions, and meals.
- Extravagant strip club expenses that once included an abortion.
Along with the harrowing take-down piece, Yahoo! also posted over 80 painstakingly detailed player pages that list specific benefits for a number of high-profile former Miami athletes. The list includes several current NFL All-Pro's (Andre Johnson, Vince Wilfork, Frank Gore), at least three members of the Seventh Floor Crew (Marcus Maxey, Tavares Gooden, Jon Beason), and one Chicago Bear. Yes, that would be All Everything return specialist and aspiring wide receiver Devin Hester, who played for the Hurricanes from 2003-2005.
Fear not, Bears fans: nothing lobbied against Hester is nearly as icky as that one trip to the smushmortion clinic. Hester reportedly received meals, NBA tickets, clothing and cash to buy rims for his SUV from Shapiro. He also received over $7,000 in performance-based bounty money for doing what Devin Hester does better than any player ever: returning kicks for touchdowns. At least one of the benefits Hester received is borderline heartwarming: $3,000 to buy his girlfriend an engagement ring.
Here's how Shapiro described his interactions with Hester.
"Devin Hester was a really introverted kid. Very quiet. [I] saw him sitting outside Larry Coker’s office, where he was unsure if he was ever going to play a down of football at the University of Miami. [I] started off taking him for lunches, meeting him for dinner, coming to my house often. He stayed at my house a few times, but was in my house often. I bought him rims for his [Lincoln] Navigator I believe it was. It was a truck."
Funniest part. Emphasis mine:
"He was always on my yacht. I mean at least 15, 20 times. He wrecked one of my jet skis. Cost me 8, 9, 10 thousand. I don’t remember exactly."
I wish this was on YouTube.
Before the moralists rise to attack the Bears wide receiver, it's important to remember that nothing Hester did was implicitly illegal, just against NCAA rules. With everyone around him gettin' there's, Hester got his, too.
Hester did not respond to a phone message from Yahoo! Sports. My best guess is he'll have microphones in his face for the rest of the week waiting for his side of the story.