Thursday, December 29, 2011
Miami to repay $83,000 in donations
ESPN.com news services
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The University of Miami is giving back $83,000 it says it received "directly and indirectly" from Nevin Shapiro, the former Hurricanes booster and convicted Ponzi scheme architect whose claims of giving athletes and recruits extra benefits for nearly a decade sparked an NCAA investigation.
Court records show the agreement between the school and bankruptcy trustee Joel Tabas was filed last week. Once the agreement becomes finalized, Miami would have 14 days to make payment to Tabas, who is overseeing the effort to recoup money that Shapiro's investors lost.
"The agreement was the result of a lengthy negotiation process and brings closure to the University's obligations in the bankruptcy case," Miami's general counsel office said in a statement, and Tabas affirmed that to be the case in an email to The Associated Press.
The NCAA said in August that eight players would be suspended for either one, four or six games -- most got only one-game bans -- and that they and four others would have to pay back what they received from Shapiro, who claimed to give extra benefits to 72 players and football recruits during his time as a booster, along with contributions to the university's athletic department.
As a condition of the agreement, once it becomes final, the trustee "releases the University and the Athletes from any and all claims, counterclaims ... whether liability be direct or indirect." In short, that means the value of the gifts past and present players received from Shapiro will likely not be pursued by the trustee.
"This amount includes payment of $3,000 in penalties levied by the NCAA on 11 current student-athletes who received improper benefits from Mr. Shapiro," the university's statement said.
Shapiro said he gave athletes money, cars, yacht rides and other benefits from 2002 through 2010. He is serving a 20-year prison term for overseeing a $930 million Ponzi scheme, and involuntary bankruptcy proceedings to recover at least some of the money his investors lost were initiated in 2009. When he was sentenced, federal officials said his grocery-distribution scam led to investor losses of at least $80 million.
The NCAA is expected to levy sanctions against Miami when its inquiry into the school's compliance practices concludes. Miami's football team did not make itself eligible for selection to a bowl game this season, a self-imposed penalty related to the NCAA investigation.
Previous court records show that Miami agreed in July 2010 -- more than a year before the full extent of Shapiro's claims were unveiled -- to repay $130,307 from debtors also involved in the bankruptcy proceedings.
According to the latest court documents, Tabas found "additional potential claims against the University and certain University prior and current athletes" after that settlement. The documents also show that the school and the trustee had some dispute about the new claims, but adds that the school believes resolving the matter is "in the best interests of all parties."
There is no known timetable for the completion of the NCAA inquiry.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.