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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
SEC names tied to ex-Miami booster

By Edward Aschoff

The damning allegations made by convicted Ponzi schemer and former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro might cripple University of Miami athletics, but Shapiro's actions might affect some schools outside of Coral Gables.

In a Yahoo! Sports report, Shapiro said he provided impermissible benefits to at least 72 Miami athletes and other athletes, and also committed NCAA violations with members of the Miami coaching staff when he had improper recruiting contact.

It is an NCAA violation for a school's booster to be involved in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes.

Three SEC schools -- Florida, Georgia and Alabama -- were linked to Yahoo! Sports' report.

First-year Alabama assistants Jeff Stoutland and Joe Pannunzio have been accused by Shapiro of steering recruits to him in order to help persuade them to sign with Miami.

The Yahoo! Sports report quoted Shapiro as saying Stoutland, Alabama's current offensive line coach, was among coaches who brought prospects to his home or luxury suite for recruiting pitches. The story also said Pannunzio, Alabama's director of football operations, was involved, though the report only cited unnamed sources when referring to Pannunzio.

Stoutland was the offensive line coach at Miami from 2007-10, while Pannunzio spent the past five years as the Hurricanes' tight ends coach/special-teams coordinator.

Alabama released a statement Tuesday night through team spokesperson Doug Walker.

"The University of Alabama is aware of the story, but we will have no further comment," Walker said.

Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports that Florida wide receiver Andre Debose and offensive tackle Matt Patchan were athletes who were improperly brought to him so that he could try to persuade them to attend Miami. Shapiro also alleged that current Florida wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill was one of the coaches present when impermissible contact with three recruits, including Debose, took place in 2008.

According to the report, Debose, along with two of his high school teammates, was brought to Shapiro's multimillion dollar mansion by Miami recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt. The report also stated that Hill, who was Miami's receivers coach at the time, was also there.

"I took [Debose, Armstrong and Dye] in my car the first night," Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports. "They came to my house. They were there with Clint Hurtt, who at the time was the recruiting coordinator, and Aubrey Hill, who was the receivers coach. I gave them a strong pitch on why they should come to the University of Miami. Ray-Ray Armstrong and Dyron Dye were both already in the boat, meaning they were ready to come. Debose was the only one who was wavering."

Shapiro also said he gave Miami equipment assistant Sean Allen around $2,000 to $3,000 in cash and told Allen to show the players "a good time." The reports states that Allen later used the cash to take the three players to nightclubs and a strip club.

Shapiro alleges that two Miami assistants were with Patchan, three members of his family and several other Miami players. Shapiro also said Stoutland was there.

Florida released a statement through Associate Athletics Director/Communications Steve McClain in regards to Hill's role at Miami.

"While we declined comment for Yahoo's request, coach Hill indicated he was very comfortable with, and very confident in how he conducted himself while at the University of Miami," McClain said.

Georgia tight end Orson Charles was also listed as a player who had impermissible contact with Shapiro. The report stated that Charles allegedly toured Shapiro’s mansion in 2008 with Tampa (Fla.) Plant coach Robert Weiner and then-Miami quarterback Robert Marve, who also played at Plant.

Florida and Georgia will not face program violations, but it's unclear what could happen to Debose, Patchan and Charles.

A former SEC name also linked to the Yahoo! report is former Tennessee running back Bryce Brown. He originally committed to Miami, but signed with Lane Kiffin at Tennessee after national signing day, before transferring to Kansas State last year.

Shapiro alleges he provided a lunch costing more than $500 and a hotel room for more than $1,000 for Brown, his family and family adviser in 2008.