Allen says he understands the criticism, but my intentions were to try to help.
How Axcess got access to players
Allen said that he began working for Axcess Sports & Entertainment, headed by Huyghue, the principal agent, right around the time he graduated in the spring of 2005. Huyghue had sold a partial interest in the company to Shapiro for $1.5 million back in 2003.
I really didnt have much of a job description, said Allen, whose first task was to babysit cornerback Adam Pac Man Jones, a first-round NFL draft pick for the Tennessee Titans. His other duties included creating Excel spreadsheets for analyzing players and contacting them on Facebook.
Allen said that he made $25,000 as the part-time manager of player relations for Axcess.
In the deposition taken last December, Allen said UMs Revilla and Tony Hernandez, the athletic departments assistant compliance officer at the time, as well as others on the football coaching staff, knew he was working for Axcess although they did not know about the specifics of his illicit recruiting activities.
In the deposition, Allen said that he used his UM connections to help recruit at least eight Canes players with NFL potential by introducing them to Huyghue and Shapiro so Axcess could sign them. He named them in this order: Jon Beason, Devin Hester, Tavares Gooden, Frank Gore, Roger McIntosh, Orien Harris, Kyle Wright and Tyrone Moss.
Allen also said under oath that he gave at least $50 of his own money to Gooden, Hester and McIntosh.
Allen told The Herald there were also expensive trips to the Bahamas, where he claims that he and Huyghue took former UM quarterback Wright, then a sophomore, in 2005. That same year, Allen said, he and Huyghue also took Wright to a Snoop Dogg concert at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, where they stayed at the Ritz-Carlton. After the concert, they went backstage to meet the rapper, who was a client at Axcess, Allen said.
Huyghue, a sports lawyer who recently worked as a senior executive with the Jacksonville Jaguars, could not be reached for comment after a Herald reporter left messages for him at his Ponte Vedra Beach home and on Facebook.
After Axcess: The party continues
Axcess, based in the Jacksonville area, filed its last annual report with the state in February 2008 and dissolved the next year, public records show.
Allen wasnt working for Axcess by then. Instead, Allen teamed up with Campbell, and together they ran a business called Luke Sports and Entertainment out of Allens Brickell-area apartment. Allen was listed as the president and Campbell as vice president, with Allens father, Robert, serving as a director of the company.
When that venture petered out in 2007, Allen soon went to work for a brokerage firm for about a year. He stayed there until he became Shapiros personal assistant in 2008. The party kept going up until Shapiros business and legal woes began to take their toll in 2009. The one-time booster was arrested on securities fraud and money laundering charges in April 2010 for operating an investment scam through his wholesale grocery business, Capitol Investments USA.
In his December 2011 deposition, Allen spelled out how he worked as Shapiros personal assistant from 2008-09 and corroborated most of what Yahoo! first reported. Among the claims:
• Shapiro entertained dozens of UM players at his $6.1 million waterfront home in Miami Beach, on his $1.6 million Riviera yacht and in his suite at Sun Life Stadium, Allen said. He also said that Shapiro took players to strip joints (Solid Gold, Pink Pony, Tootsies), nightclubs (Mansion, Cameo, Prive) and bowling alleys (Lucky Strike). At dozens of bowling outings, Shapiro gave out cash prizes to the UM players with the highest scores, he said.
Allen also said in the bankruptcy case deposition that he saw Shapiro give some money to Tyrone Moss to help take care of Moss baby. Yahoo! reported the amount was $1,000. Moss admitted to Yahoo! he received the money.
• Over the past decade, Shapiro also gave financial benefits to other UM players, including Cornelius Green, Jerome McDougle, Andrew Williams, Eric Moncur and Randy Phillips, Allen said.
I think he enjoyed hanging out with those guys, Allen said in the deposition. And I think it also was an opportunity for him to develop relationships with them to eventually see if they would sign with Axcess.
• Allen also said his boss gave him $3,000 cash to show three Sanford Seminole High School football stars Armstrong, Dye and Debose a good time at Rolex, a strip club in Northwest Miami-Dade, according to the deposition.
Allen told The Herald that Shapiro didnt go that night because he wasnt feeling well.
I took charge of paying for the alcohol and making sure stuff was paid for, Allen said in the deposition. And the rest of the money I handed to them and said, You guys, you know, do what you want to do with it.
Allen told The Herald that this was the only time he gave potential UM recruits money with the intent of steering them to the Canes.
Last year, the NCAA suspended eight Canes players for accepting impermissible benefits from Shapiro, including Armstrong and Dye. Debose did not go to UM. All of the UM players reimbursements were returned by the university to the bankruptcy trustee of Shapiros business in a December 2011 settlement. In total, UMs settlement on behalf of most of the former and current players tainted by Shapiro totaled $83,000.
In the Yahoo! story, Shapiro did not break down how much he allegedly gave to UM players. Rather, he said he gave Allen more than $200,000 in cash and checks to distribute to the Canes players and to pay for their strip-club outings, restaurant meals and parties at his Mediterranean-style North Bay Road home. Shapiro also said some of that money went to pay for Allens salary and Shapiros gambling debts.
Allen, in his deposition, speculated that the total figure was around $100,000 perhaps cash that he would get for Shapiro from the safe in his walk-in closet at the Miami Beach mansion or from a Wachovia Bank branch. Allen said that some of the money went to Shapiros housekeeper, Lilly, and two women who hung out at Shapiros Miami Beach home. The women were escorts, Allen said. But he did not say in the deposition why Shapiro paid them.
Allen also said he was paid $5,000 a month working as a personal assistant for Shapiro.
The big recruit and the $10,000
In his deposition last December, Allen was asked about Shapiros claim in the Yahoo! story that the UM booster gave $10,000 to assistant basketball coach Jake Morton to help lure Georgia high school recruit DeQuan Jones to the Canes.
According to the Yahoo! report, Shapiro alleged that in the early summer of 2008 he was told by Morton that a member of Jones family required $10,000 to ensure the players commitment to Miami. Shapiro said that he agreed to put up the money and that Morton visited Shapiros Miami Beach mansion to get the payment. Allen said in the deposition that he recalled being in Shapiros home and playing pool with him and Morton, but that he doesnt remember the money changing hands.
Allen told The Herald: I just dont remember that. Grabbing $10,000 was like grabbing $100 bucks [out of Shapiros safe].
Jones was cleared by the NCAA in late 2011 and allowed to play for the Canes after being reinstated and missing the first two months of the season.
In the deposition, Allen said he socialized with Shapiro and the former UM basketball coaches when the booster treated them to dinner at Phillipe Chow, a trendy Chinese restaurant in Miami Beach, and at the Solid Gold strip club. Allen said Shapiro also hosted the coaches Morton and head coach Frank Haith at his Sun Life Stadium suite for Canes football games.
Shapiro gave a $50,000 donation to the schools basketball program. In a now-notorious photo, Shapiro is pictured with Haith and UM President Donna Shalala as she clutches his check during a 2008 fundraiser at Lucky Strike on Miami Beach.
As part of another settlement with the trustee overseeing Shapiros bankruptcy case, UM formally reached an Aug. 20, 2010 agreement to return $130,307 that he donated to the school for the basketball program, a student-athlete lounge on the campus and other direct benefits to the university.
Back where Allen started at UM
UM rehired Allen as an assistant football equipment manager at $8 an hour in the fall of 2009. A year later, in December, the university named Al Golden as its new football coach, replacing Randy Shannon.
Golden didnt know Allen at all. Allen said he met the head coach for the first time at Dan Marinos restaurant in South Miami soon after he was hired. Golden and his coaching staff were meeting with Miami Northwestern Highs star quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater , on an unofficial visit. Allen said he swung by the restaurant and picked up Bridgewater after the player reached out to him for a ride home.
Allen told The Herald that Golden suggested he feed the hot prospect on the way home rather than eat with them at Dan Marinos because it wasnt an official visit and UM couldnt pick up the tab. Allen said he took Bridgewater to Wendys. Bridgewater later decided to attend the University of Louisville.
It wasnt long before Golden, the former Temple head coach, would discover that Allen had access to several top high school prospects in the Miami areas crop of football talent. Allen was friends with them because of his volunteer work as a Big Brother. Allen said that he began mentoring kids in 2004 when many of them were in elementary and middle school playing Optimist football.
Allen said he started reaching out to potential recruits for Golden and his coaching staff a no-no under NCAA rules because the assistant equipment manager wasnt on the staff only after the Bridgewater incident in December 2010.
In July of this year, Yahoo! reported it reviewed Allens phone records, determining he had contacted at least 10 Miami-area prospects being recruited by Goldens staff. Allen said that while the story was generally accurate, it overstated his supporting role. I dont think this is a nefarious group, Allen said. But they were using my relationship with these kids to try and help them.
Allen said the only time he may have crossed the line came in early January 2011, just weeks after Golden had taken over the UM coaching reins. Allen said that an assistant coach who coordinated recruiting efforts enlisted Allen to dissuade Devonta Freeman, a star running back at state champion Miami Central, from committing to Florida State University, where he was on the verge of starting classes.
I had never asked a player to change schools, Allen told The Herald. I immediately felt bad about putting Devonta in such an uncomfortable situation. I actually called him the next day to apologize.
Allen said that he made phone calls to Freeman and his mother, updating the assistant coach, Micheal Barrow, on the players status. At one point, Allen told The Herald he called the mother, and conferenced her in with the assistant, who put Golden on the phone. The head coach gave his best pitch, with no success.
After the second Yahoo! story ran in July, NCAA investigators flew to Miami to meet Allen for a third time. They showed him a list of 120 to 150 UM players and high school prospects suspected of taking cash or other types of gifts from Shapiro. They also asked him about Golden and his staffs last-minute bid to recruit Freeman and his role as a go-between, Allen said.
For his part, Golden, who says he knew nothing about Shapiro before coming to UM, issued a statement: The inferences and suggestions in the Yahoo! story that my conduct was anything but ethical are simply false.
Barrow, at the Hurricanes media day in August, declined to comment about the recruiting allegations.
The Herald story and the letter
The question that remains unanswered: How much did UM officials know about Allen and Shapiros misdeeds and when if at all did they decide to do something about the problem.
Allen said that he didnt leave his part-time job at UM on his own terms until after he was first interviewed by the NCAA in August 2011. Nobody at the school asked him to leave, he said. He just didnt think there was any point in coming back after Yahoo! published its first story.
UM athletic and school officials got their first public hint of the potential magnitude of Shapiros wrongdoing when Miami Herald sports writer Barry Jackson wrote an Aug. 29, 2010 story headlined New book to allege violations made by University of Miami football.
Five months ago, UMs website called Nevin Shapiro an ardent, devoted, intense supporter. A student lounge was named in his honor, the story began. Now, facing years in prison for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme, Shapiro is writing a book about the UM football program in which he alleges former Canes players committed NCAA violations.
Shapiro, who would plead guilty to federal charges that September, said from a New Jersey jail that he would not detail the allegations until the book was published. The planned title: The Real U: 2001 to 2010. Inside the Eye of the Hurricane.
After the Herald story came out that Sunday, Hernandez, who had been promoted to senior associate athletic director, held a closed-door meeting the next day with Allen. That was like the Oh [expletive] moment for UM, Allen told The Herald. Whats he going to write? Whats he going to say?
Hernandez and Allen who as friends, Allen says, would go out to dinner frequently both knew what Shapiros tell-all book could mean for the university and its much-vaunted football program. It was no secret that Shannon, the head coach at the time, had never liked the UM booster going back to when Shapiros sports agency tried to convince Wilfork to leave the school early for the NFL draft in 2004.
Michael [Huyghue] was convincing Vince to leave and thats when Randy was the defensive coordinator, Allen told The Herald. He told Vince, This guy is giving you awful advice. After that, he was very anti-Michael Huyghue and Nevin [Shapiro] because he could see they werent aligned with the interest of UM.
But UM officials did not issue any warnings to Shapiro.
It wasnt until Jacksons story ran in the Heralds sports section in late August 2010 that school officials contacted Shapiro and his attorneys, who refused to provide any facts to the university, the athletic departments spokesman, Freet, said in the Yahoo! story. He also said that UM contacted the NCAA about the same time.
But the reality is Jacksons story was not the first time that Canes football officials privately expressed concern over Shapiros suspicious gift-giving to UM players.
At the beginning of the football season in 2009, Revilla, the equipment manager, approached Allen to ask a favor, he said in his deposition. Revilla wanted Allen to write a letter to Shapiro who was angry with Allen because he had crashed Shapiros Mercedes-Benz CLS550 twice to attempt to resolve their differences.
Allen said in the deposition that he sensed that other officials in the UM athletic department had put Revilla up to prodding him to make peace with Shapiro in an attempt to put a lid on potentially bad news that could tar the universitys reputation. Allen testified they thought that [Shapiro] being upset with me was going to somehow cause problems there.
Allen emailed Shapiro on Sept. 1, 2009, and he replied the next day.
Shapiros lawyer pointed out that in the last paragraph of his note, Allen wrote: The purpose of this email is truthful. Its an apology and I thank you.
What were you thanking him for? asked Shapiros lawyer, Maria Elena Perez.
I dont know, Allen answered. The purpose of this email was to do what I was told to do at the University of Miami.