Miami, FL – The NCAA is investigating the University of Florida's football program after reports surfaced that players were given gifts and extra benefits from a man now serving jail time for running an alleged Ponzi scheme.
According to the Miami Herald, Nevin Shapiro claims to have given well over a dozen players gifts. During an interview with the Herald in 2010, Shapiro mentioned former stars such as Devin Hester, Antrel Rolle and Jon Beason.
Miami football coach Al Golden spoke with media members on Tuesday and acknowledged that the NCAA is on campus to investigate.
"We've learned of a situation here that we're working through right now," said Golden, who was hired last December after Randy Shannon was dismissed following a four-year reign. "I'm gathering information as much as you are."
Golden said school officials, including athletic director Shawn Eichorst and president Donna Shalala, have spoken with NCAA investigators.
"Once we learned of the allegations we wanted to make sure we're doing our due diligence and want to cooperate with the NCAA," Golden stated Tuesday.
The Herald said Shapiro's attorney, Maria Elena Perez, has been in contact with the NCAA for several months. Some of the gifts, according to Perez, included jewelry, clothing, entertainment and the use of Shapiro's yacht.
Golden said that he knew nothing of these allegations before leaving Temple for Miami and said he would have taken the job regardless, but also stressed that the potential violations occurred on another coach's watch.
"I've been in this profession for 16, 17 years and haven't had any NCAA issues," Golden remarked. "If there are things there, [it's important] that we're honest and don't compromise our integrity and we move forward.
"We'll make sure we get to the bottom of this."
According to the Herald, some of the alleged incidents occurred more than four years ago, beyond the NCAA's statute of limitations, but some occurred in the past four years, which would have been under Shannon's watch.
In June, Shapiro was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 50 investors out of up to $100 million.