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Interim enforcement chief Duncan says that both the More Cases, More Quickly mantra and the policy of encouraging "innovative techniques" are under review, and he concedes that the department is in flux. "It's been a tough time for the enforcement staff," Duncan says. "They're not immune to the struggles."
Today the enforcement division's serial humiliations are the greatest impediment to investigators, not the water guns in their holsters. "There's a new unwritten policy in place that big cases and major allegations that will open the NCAA up to a large legal or public or media relations liability won't be brought without very serious vetting," a former enforcement staffer says. "I would say now the time is ripe to cheat. There's no policing going on." Duncan disagrees. "It's never a good time to break the rules," he says. "The enforcement staff is not handicapped or debilitated. The enforcement staff is strong."
Still, the irony remains: The King of the Press Conference, who wanted high-profile cases processed on a rocket docket, now takes to podiums in a defensive posture. And he does so because the great achievement on his watch, an overhaul of enforcement, has left that department compromised. As one former enforcement staffer puts it, "Five years ago, enforcement was revered, it was respected and it was feared to a certain extent. Now it's got its tail between its legs."
COLLEGE SPORTS is lousy with sugar-daddy boosters like Nevin Shapiro, though none have been as embedded as he was. He attended the football banquet. He led the Hurricanes out of the tunnel. He prowled the sideline. He accepted a green-and-orange bowling ball from, and signed by, Shalala. After he paid for the Nevin Shapiro Student-Athlete Lounge and its couches, TVs, pool table and video games, the school put a bust of him outside the head football coach's office as if he were a legend in his own time. Which he was, after a fashion: Players called him Li'l Luke, a reference to former 2 Live Crew frontman Luther Campbell, a notorious Miami superfan from the 1980s and '90s. (Although Campbell has admitted he bought meals for players, he denies engaging in the kind of unsavory activities associated with Shapiro—and is suing Shapiro for defamation.) Hurricanes even flashed double L gestures with their thumb and forefinger, Shapiro says, to dedicate great plays to him.
But as a high-stakes gambler embedded in a high-profile athletic program, Shapiro embodied the NCAA's greatest nightmare. And while he says he wasn't party to point-shaving or game-fixing, Shapiro is a kind of Rosetta Stone of corruption, someone who can illuminate the full range of the enforcement division's concerns.
Shapiro described to SI in detail bets he says he placed on 23 Miami games between 2003 and '09, using inside information from 16 Hurricanes players, four coaches and four athletic-department staffers. Further, he says, many knew what he was doing with the intelligence they shared, even if none received direct compensation for their information. Whatever he won on fall Saturdays, he says he'd usually lose, and then some, betting on other sports, and that helped lead to his bankruptcy. But thanks to information flowing out of Coral Gables, Shapiro says, he made money on each of the 23 bets, winning so reliably that his bookie eventually slipped him four Heat season tickets so he wouldn't share his picks with others. A picture emerges of an ecosystem: Hurricanes insiders funnel information to Shapiro; Shapiro gets down a high-percentage play; and many of his informants benefit from Shapiro's large living.
Shapiro says his run began with the Hurricanes' 2003 home opener against Florida. He says that four players and a mole in the athletic department told him that the school's new quarterback, Brock Berlin, wasn't ready for the job. Shapiro wagered $250,000, the same amount he had just pledged to the athletic department. As would come to be his custom, he bet against the Hurricanes, and Florida easily covered the 14-point spread in a 38--33 Miami victory during which his donation was acknowledged over the P.A. system.
Two years later, Shapiro says, he began a gambling relationship with Adam Meyer, the tout behind the handicapping website AdamWins.com. Shapiro says it started with a Nov. 19, 2005, game against Georgia Tech. Hearing from an athletic department staffer that Miami's slow defensive front would struggle trying to stop Tech's scrambling quarterback Reggie Ball, Shapiro bet heavily against the Hurricanes, and Miami, despite being a 17½-point favorite, lost 14--10. (Ball, who struggled for most of the game, ran 16 yards for the winning score.) Financial statements show that Shapiro wired $60,000 to Real Money Sports, Meyer's business, and Shapiro says he collected at least $100,000.
Bank records from 2005 to '08 show dozens of five- and six-figure sums moving from Shapiro's entities to Meyer's during football season, including more than $1.3 million in the final two months of 2007, money that Shapiro says was entirely gambling-related. "I needed Meyer [in order] to bet big, as he was in the mix with a number of gaming outlets and a cash payer," Shapiro says. Several days before Nov. 3, when favored Miami lost 19--16 in overtime to N.C. State, he learned from a coach that quarterback Kyle Wright would be benched because of a bad knee and ankle. (SI could not reach Wright for comment.) "I ran with what I knew and got hold of Meyer," says Shapiro, who says he wound up being the first to tell a stunned Wright that he wouldn't be playing. Shapiro got his bet down before the benching became public knowledge, and the line moved from 13 points to 11. "It was a bonanza," says Shapiro. Records show that, six days after the game, nine wires moved $1.18 million from one Shapiro business, Capitol Investments, to another, Ocean Rock Enterprises. It was all money from the N.C. State game, Shapiro says, that he was shuffling around to put his accounts in order.
Meyer declined comment through his lawyer, Joel Hirschhorn, who says that Meyer would place bets for Shapiro when his client was in Las Vegas. In 2011, Meyer reached an agreement with the bankruptcy trustee to pay Shapiro's defrauded investors $900,000—a sum that Shapiro calls laughably small.