And though NCAA rules allow for athletes to eat an occasional meal at the home of a booster, after the Shapiro case broke, UM instituted a new policy prohibiting any dining at a booster’s home, James said.
The NCAA infractions report also notes that Shapiro “directed his first donation” to UM “in 2001 to the student-athlete scholarship fund,” known then as the Living Scholars program.
“As described by a former student-athlete,” the NCAA noted, “Living Scholar donors were introduced to student-athletes because the donors provided the funds for scholarships” and it was understood that “the student-athletes would ‘rub elbows’ with the Living Scholars because they were presumed to be wealthy.”
Said James: “That’s a program we don’t have anymore.”
Additionally, Miami’s annual “donor trip” to a football game no longer involves boosters flying on the same plane as the team.
“At the point Miami is right now, we had to make decisions about access of student-athletes to boosters,” Strawley said. “Personally, you feel bad because there are many more donors in it for the right reason that are not trying to violate rules. At this point, you’re taking more actions to protect yourself from the one or two bad apples that might be out there.”
Strawley said UM now “ensures there’s a Miami staff member at each table” when athletes and donors are together for awards banquets, for example, or anything similar.
“The biggest way to stop this stuff is you simply do not give the boosters that type of access,” said John Infante, a former Colorado State and Loyola Marymount compliance officer who authors a popular blog called Bylawblog.com. “You can have your nice suites, club seats, talks with the [athletic directors] all you want. … If you want to have these programs where there is more personal contact between a donor and athlete — like Shapiro was using to get close to the athletes — do that in a group setting and have more eyes there.”
The last two of three pages in the infractions report lists Miami’s “corrective actions” taken to improve compliance.
Strawley and associate athletic director for compliance Craig Anderson noted that UM has implemented an electronic system that enables the school to track phone calls and texts. When a coach makes a phone call, Anderson explained, “the software loads the call into a system that has all the recruits’ phone numbers and it cross references. So, it will see if they’ve made too many calls to that phone number, or sent any text messages.”
Added Strawley: “We also do some cross-checking of that with human eyes.”
UM president Donna Shalala acknowledged Tuesday that no matter how good a compliance model is, it’s only as good as its best people.
“We’ve learned the best compliance system in the world can’t substitute for the good judgment of the personnel that you hire,” Shalala said. “People need to follow through on their instincts.”
Miami Herald sportswriters Manny Navarro, Linda Robertson and Michelle Kaufman contributed to this report.