Judge Wigenton was not much motivated by the NCAAs need for a motivational speaker. Federal sentencing guidelines suggested a range of 168 to 210 months in prison. She considered Shapiros impenitent sleaziness and upped the sentence to 240 months. (If Shapiro, after serving the mandatory 85 percent of his sentence, is released on probation, the judge ordered that before any business dealings, he must notify the other party take note NCAA of the risks that may be occasioned by the defendants criminal record or personal history or characteristics.)
In November, the U.S. Court of Appeals (Third Circuit) rejected an appeal of the 20-year sentence, finding that the judge adequately explained why she chose to vary upward, emphasizing Shapiros leadership role in the scheme, the duration of the scheme, the magnitude of the loss, the number of victims and Shapiros continued willingness to blame others and soil their reputations.
After the AP story broke, the NCAA issued a statement indicating that it has lost interest in hiring Shapiro. Nevin Shapiro has not been and will not be a consultant for the NCAA. Little wonder. Shapiro wont emerge from prison before 2028. By then, his vaunted expertise as a debaucher of young athletes will be rather dated.
The letter from Najjar, who was fired last year by the NCAA, added another whiff of quid pro quo to an investigation tainted by impropriety. It adds to the sense that Najjar and his fellow NCAA investigators went to bizarre lengths to keep Shapiro happy. They supplied the inmate a pre-paid cell phone and deposited $4,500 into his prison commissary account. They also connived with Najjars criminal lawyer to exploit Shapiros federal bankruptcy case and force reluctant witnesses in the UM investigation to supply depositions that had little to do with his bankruptcy. For that trick, Miami lawyer Maria Elena Perez, billing at $350 an hour, sent the NCAA nine invoices totaling $57,115. (The NCAA only paid about $19,000 before the deal blew up into a national scandal.) The apparent subterfuge prompted U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno last week to order an investigation into whether Perez had strayed into unethical behavior. The Florida Bar has been digging into the case since January.
The tainted UM investigation still drags on, though Najjar was fired last year. And after the NCAA investigated its own investigation-gone-wild, his boss, NCAA vice president of enforcement Julie Roe Lach, was similarly zapped. But the 52-page report into the botched handling of the UM case failed to mention how the NCAA had lent its prestige to Ponzi thief in federal court, intimating that if the judge would go easy on him, hed make a fine motivational speaker.
Not that the judge doubted Shapiros talent as a slick talker. Judge Wigenton might have been referring to the NCAA when she told the convict, I can only conclude that somehow you had an uncanny ability to convince, sway, persuade people to do things that didnt even make sense."
Months after he was carted off to the pokey, Shapiro still cranks out the motivational nuggets that stir an NCAA investigators heart. He e-mailed the Heralds Barry Jackson promising that, even from prison, he would find a way to wreak even more vengeance. Its going to be severe and catastrophic. My feelings are getting inflamed and Im going to pop off pretty soon with regards to them and the NCAA. Im coming for them both [UM and former players] and Im going to be successful, the prisoner promised Jackson. Im taking that program down to Chinatown . . . Why? Because the U.S. government lined up 47 former players to testify against me in open court if I went to trial. That in itself is motivation to shove it up their collective [butts].
Down to Chinatown. Pretty moving words. Downright inspirational. You can understand why the NCAA wanted a place for Nevin Shapiro in their organization. Now that John Gottis no longer available.
A previous version of this column incorrectly indicated that UM is Shapiro's alma mater.