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Can't be shocked by Miami mess

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Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock writes about the sports world from every angle, including those other writers can't imagine or muster courage to address. His columns are humorous, thought-provoking, agenda-free, honest and unpredictable. E-mail him, follow his Twitter or become a fan of Jason Whitlock on Facebook.

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Miami, home of Tony Montana, is the perfect setting for the kind of detailed decadence exposed in Yahoo! Sports’ explosive investigative piece on the University of Miami’s athletic program.

The people who believe there’s a kernel of integrity in NCAA-mandated shamateurism, the people reluctant to accept what television and its money and fame have done to college athletics, need programs like The U.

You know why? Because they don’t have the guts to be what they wanna be. They need programs like The U so they can point their fingers and say, “That’s the bad guy.”

The folks at Ohio State and Southern Cal and Oregon and Auburn and Connecticut and every other school touched by scandal the past decade feel a little bit better about themselves today. Their shame has been diminished by the knowledge that Uncle Luke, the rapper, was replaced by Lil Madoff, the incarcerated Ponzi-scheming snitch.

Say hello to Miami’s little friend, Nevin Shapiro.

Throughout his 30s, he chased celebrity and relevancy by using his ill-gotten wealth to befriend athletes and coaches at Miami. Now in his 40s, facing 20 years of imprisonment, stripped of his cash, forgotten by the people whose friendships were never for sale — only for rent — Shapiro will satisfy himself with infamy, revenge and maybe a book or movie deal.

Yeah, Miami is the perfect setting for this kind of mess. Three decades of swagger, corruption and championships end with an unlikely stool pigeon taking The U straight to hell.

So what does the demise of The U make the rest of the NCAA? Good? It’s not good. They just know how to hide, how to lie. The U didn’t have that problem. The U always told the truth, even when it lied. So say good night to the bad guy. Make way for the bad guy. There’s a bad guy coming through. Better get outta his way.

The dope game didn’t end with the death of Tony Montana in "Scarface." It did not become more honorable, less violent.

The people who piously believe the corruption at Miami is somehow worse than the corruption in Columbus or Austin or Muncie or Boise or Durham are fooling themselves. It’s all relative. You move Ohio State or Kansas or Ball State or Duke to within a 15-minute drive of the South Beach nightclubs, the Miami strip clubs and all the super-wealthy sports fans/groupies wanting to live vicariously through celebrity athletes, and Uncle Luke and Lil Madoff would befriend Buckeyes, Jayhawks, Blue Devils and Cardinals.

HOT SEAT

Georgia coach Richt already is on it, Lisa Horne says.

There’s a Nevin Shapiro knockoff on every campus. He might not own a yacht or have easy access to hookers, but he supplies in abundance whatever decadence Iowa City has to offer.

The people shocked and surprised by the Yahoo! Sports story have never visited South Beach or stepped inside a Miami gentlemen’s club. Tricking (and treating) is part of Miami culture, perhaps even more so than Las Vegas. The allegation that Shapiro provided the players with prostitutes sounds absolutely scandalous unless you’ve socialized extensively in Miami. In all likelihood, Shapiro mostly threw parties and invited girls who work at the plethora of strip clubs. In other words, he invited the same local girls who frequent the plethora of “legit” nightclubs in South Beach. Maybe cash exchanged hands, but it is not difficult to find attractive, loose women in Miami willing to hook up with potential pro athletes.

I’m not justifying what Shapiro did. I’m trying to put it in context.

The football and basketball players at The U wanted and received access to the same parties, activities and material possessions their private-school classmates took for granted.

The athletes are brought to campus to win games, generate millions of dollars for the university, the coaches and the administrators and remain eligible. Is it really a surprise they feel entitled to enjoy whatever extra benefits are offered by overzealous boosters/groupies? Do we really think the former Hurricanes who have earned NFL millions are shy about showering their wealth on the current players?

This, the Miami mess, isn’t new ground. Shapiro admitted he was simply mimicking what Miami-based rapper Luther Campbell did in the 1980s and 1990s. What’s new is the detail and the animus.

Shapiro wants to destroy The U and elevate himself. And some of you are glad he’s doing it because it makes you feel better about yourself.
 

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