GABLES (AP) — University of Miami football coach Al Golden’s second season at the school is beginning much like his first one, with new accusations of rule breaking, the looming threat of serious NCAA sanctions and no apparent end in sight for the long probe into the Hurricanes’ compliance practices.
Citing unidentified sources, Yahoo Sports reported Friday that former Miami football employee Sean Allen, who has been linked to one-time booster and now convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro through the improper-benefits scandal that broke last year, assisted members of Golden’s coaching staff with recruiting.
If true, that could be a major NCAA violation by the troubled program, despite Golden’s repeated insistence that he wants to “get it fixed.”
“The inferences and suggestions in the Yahoo Sports story that my conduct was anything but ethical are simply false,” Golden said in a statement released Friday night.
Golden also said that he has been a college football coach for more than 18 years and stands by his record of compliance.
“I, like all of us at UM, have cooperated fully with the joint NCAA-UM inquiry and will continue to do so, so that our program and our university can move forward,” Golden said.
Earlier Friday, two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that NCAA investigators visited Miami for several days earlier this month, just the latest round of the lengthy inquiry into the Hurricanes’ athletics department. The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because information about the probe has not been publicly released. Shapiro’s claims that he provided dozens of Miami athletes and recruits with extra benefits over an eight-year span were published by Yahoo Sports last August.
A significant portion of Shapiro’s allegations from last year revolved around Allen, who was an assistant football equipment manager until leaving the program last year. Shapiro said he gave Allen more than $200,000, most allegedly spent on players and recruits, as well as a luxury car. Allen denied those claims to Yahoo Sports in 2011 and has not responded to interview requests from the AP.
Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez, did not respond to requests for comment Friday. She deposed Allen late last year, shortly before court records showed Miami entered into an agreement with a bankruptcy trustee to return $83,000 it said it received “directly and indirectly” from Shapiro.
Miami has been bracing for additional allegations and was aware earlier in the week that they were coming. In an e-mail obtained by the AP, university President Donna Shalala told trustees July 19 that “someone who had a low level position at one time” was expected to allege that Miami assistant coach and former NFL player Micheal Barrow committed recruiting violations. Shalala said it has already been investigated.
So nearly a year after the Hurricanes became wrapped up in an extra-benefits scandal — and with training camp fast approaching, along with ACC media days starting this weekend — Miami still has plenty of questions and very few answers.
Photo: Al Golden