Allegations hit Miami like hurricane

The NCAA said Wednesday it has been investigating the relationship between a convicted Ponzi scheme artist and the University of Miami for five months, and the allegations – if true – show the need for “serious and fundamental change” in college sports.

Former booster Nevin Shapiro, now serving 20 years in federal prison, claims he treated players with sex parties, nightclub outings, cars and other gifts.

Shapiro told Yahoo Sports he provided improper benefits to 72 football players and other athletes at Miami from 2002 to 2010.

“If the assertions are true, the alleged conduct at the University of Miami is an illustration of the need for serious and fundamental change in many critical aspects of college sports,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement.

The Hurricanes’ entire football team took the practice field Wednesday, even though Shapiro’s claims involve several current players. Coach Al Golden said it was too soon to take disciplinary action.

Last week, Emmert led a group of university presidents in drafting an outline for change in college sports, including higher academic standards, a streamlined rule book and new parameters for athletic scholarships.

The group included Miami president Donna Shalala.

“The serious threats to the integrity of college sports are one of the key reasons why I called together more than 50 presidents and chancellors last week to drive substantive changes to Division I intercollegiate athletics,” Emmert said in his statement.

The allegations against Miami – a program that once reveled in an outlaw image and dealt with a massive Pell Grant scandal in the 1990s – have sparked the latest in a string of NCAA investigations involving some of college football’s most high-profile and successful programs.

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