Now we know. There was more to the NCAAs collusion with a convicted Ponzi schemer than an overzealous and ethically bent campaign to nail the University of Miami.
Think Nevin Shapiro motivational speaker.
Apparently, Bernie Madoff, Allen Stanford and Scott Rothstein were unavailable for the college speaking circuit. They were already booked.
Back in 2011, the NCAAs director of enforcement intervened on behalf of the associations favorite criminal mastermind. Shapiro had pleaded guilty to ripping off 62 unwitting investors, stealing $82 million with his arbitrage fraud and funding a South Florida lifestyle of utter hedonism yacht, fancy cars, bay front mansion, wild parties, $9 million in gambling losses. He was in sore need of a good character reference.
Ameen Najjar, using NCAA stationary, wrote to U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton four days before Shapiros sentence hearing, suggesting that if shed go easy on his boy, the NCAA might hire him in the future as a consultant and/or speaker to educate our membership.
Shapiro, in addition to snookering investors, also claimed he had singlehandedly corrupted the amateur status of scores of University of Miami athletes with what the NCAA considers impermissible gratuities between 2002 and 2010. The FBI saw him as a lying, conniving crook. The NCAA saw him as a valuable asset.
In Najjars June 3, 2011 letter, unearthed last week by the Associated Press, the NCAA investigator told the judge, Throughout the course of our interactions, it is my belief that Mr. Shapiro possesses a unique depth of knowledge and experience concerning representatives athletics interest (boosters), agents and the provision of extra-benefits to student-athletes.
Apparently the NCAA considers slipping young athletes money or luring them to raucous parties an abstruse and highly specialized skill set. And wouldnt it be a shame to lock up all that valuable know-how in a federal pen.
The Najjars letter was a bit more positive than the recollections offered by Shapiros victims. At the sentencing, the prosector read a statement from one of his investors, identified as J.H.: Shapiro was impossible to contact. And even when I could, it was one lie after another with more excuses than one could possibly fabricate in a lifetime. Shapiro is a very good liar. Im sure he could look the court in the eye, tell a lie and seem believable. Dont believe it. Shapiro has destroyed lives forever, including that of mine, my wife and my daughter.
I continued to pay the mortgage on my home as long as possible. I took a loan from my 401(k), stopped contributing to my retirement fund, sold my rental property and everything else to make mortgage payments. The money ran out. It got so bad, all I could afford to buy my 13-year-old daughter for Christmas in 2010 was face wash. After that, she got a card for her birthday in February. And that was it for me. The home I spent two years designing, 14 years living in with my wife and daughter, belongs to the bank in foreclosure. We lost everything we had and the dreams of a young girl are shattered. Im completely embarrassed with friends and family. With all the stress, I developed an irregular heartbeat, had to see a cardiologist and almost lost my job. It destroyed my life and everything Ive worked to achieve. I can only pray that the day of ultimate truth is upon him.