On a day when new allegations arose attempting to connect University of Miami coach Al Golden and several UM recruits to improper involvement with a former athletic department staffer, the father of cornerback Thomas Finnie and high school coach of Duke Johnson two of the four current Hurricanes named in the article denied any wrongdoing on their behalf.
Citing an unnamed former Hurricanes athletic department staffer and federal testimony, Yahoo! Sports reported Friday that former UM football employee Sean Allen a then-equipment manager and onetime right-hand man of convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro assisted members of Goldens coaching staff with recruiting several high-profile high school players in South Florida before the school let him go last summer.
Among those included: former Miami Northwestern High quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville); receivers Elston Lane (Texas Southern), Amari Cooper (Alabama) and Eli Rogers (Louisville); South Miami cornerback A.J. Leggett (Marshall); and current Hurricanes Anthony Chickillo and Herb Waters.
If true, it would only intensify the penalties already expected to be levied against the program once the NCAA completes its inquiry into possible violations the program has been linked to since well before Golden arrived in December 2010.
Shapiros claims he provided dozens of UM athletes and recruits with extra benefits over an eight-year span were published by Yahoo! in August.
Golden has since insisted his program would get it fixed. In a statement Friday Golden said: The inferences and suggestions in the Yahoo! Sports story that my conduct was anything but ethical are simply false.
One former Hurricanes staffer told Yahoo! that Allen was used specifically by members of Goldens staff as an off-the-books recruiter.
As part of those duties, the staffer said Allen kept tabs on Miami-area kids, including making calls about their recruitment, and on some occasions, supplying improper transportation to and from campus that aided UM in its efforts to gain a commitment from some prospects.
Allen was directed to call those kids and would have never done it without the coaches pushing it, the former Hurricanes staffer told Yahoo!
But Miami Norland football coach Daryle Heidelburg said he isnt buying that Allen had any sort of influence in getting Johnson, his former star running back, to go to Miami.
Heidelburg said he cant imagine Golden directing Allen or anybody to recruit for him.
Ive had a lot of interaction with Al Golden over the past year, and I find it pretty hard to believe he would ask some equipment guy to do him any favors in recruiting, Heidelburg said. His whole deal from Day 1 was getting away from those type of people.
As for Duke, he was UM from start to finish. He didnt even take visits to other schools. Golden didnt even need to recruit him.
Heidelburg said the only times he saw Allen, who has several local high school players listed as friends on his Facebook page, were during camps and team activities at UM. Heidelburg said Allen had a reputation for hanging around players and trying to befriend them even going so far to show up to Pop Warner games when Johnson played at Liberty City Optimist.
Duke told me that guy tried to be like a mentor to guys, Heidelburg said. Duke knew better than that even then.
According to Yahoo!, Johnson called Allen on June 15, 2011.
Duke told me the reason he called him that day was just to find out if he could borrow something with UM on it for his trip to the Nike combine up in Oregon, Heidelburg said. But he never ended up getting anything from him. Duke always bought his own Canes gear. In fact, he and [Louisville linebacker] Keith Brown used to have a competition to see who had more Canes gear when they were both commitments. They used to buy it all online on my computer.
Finnie, a former standout at Miami Central who is now a sophomore at UM, spoke to Allen the day before he switched his commitment from South Carolina to the Hurricanes, according to Yahoo! But Finnies father laughed at the insinuation that his son picked UM because of Allen.
I did that totally myself, Finnie Sr. said. I spent half an hour on the phone with Al Golden the day before my son was set to leave for South Carolina. In fact, he was at Chickillos house. Every time I tried to tell him my son was going to South Carolina, he refused to take that for an answer.
Ive spent 28 years coaching. I know those type of guys and how to stay away from them. The only persuasion for my son to go to Miami came from me and my wife.