Yahoo's long-awaited story spawned by its 11-month investigation into the University of Miami football program dropped today, and the substance is, to put it mildly, staggering. Despite the fact that the main source for the story is a convicted felon, former UM booster Nevin Shapiro, far too many of the allegations have been corroborated for Miami not to get buried (read more about why Miami is in big trouble here).
It appeared at first that this would be good news for Louisville, which has consistently competed with The U for recruits since Charlie Strong took over the program. That was up until the point in the story where assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt was named.
Here's the relevant section:
NCAA rule-breaking with coaches and staffers: Shapiro said he violated NCAA rules with the knowledge or direct participation of at least six coaches – Clint Hurtt, Jeff Stoutland and Aubrey Hill on the football staff, and Frank Haith, Jake Morton and Jorge Fernandez on the basketball staff. Multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports Shapiro also violated NCAA rules with football assistant Joe Pannunzio, although the booster refused to answer any questions about that relationship. Shapiro also named assistant football equipment manager Sean Allen as someone who engaged in rulebreaking, and equipment managers Ralph Nogueras and Joey Corey as witnesses to some of his impropriety.
Among the specific incidents, Shapiro or other sources say Hurtt, Hill, Stoutland, Pannunzio and Allen all delivered top-tier recruits to Shapiro’s home or luxury suite so the booster could make recruiting pitches to them. Among the players who were ushered to Shapiro while they were still in high school: Eventual Miami commitments Ray-Ray Armstrong, Dyron Dye and Olivier Vernon (prompted by Hurtt); eventual Florida commitments Andre Debose (Hurtt) and Matt Patchan (prompted by Stoutland and Pannunzio); eventual Georgia commitment Orson Charles (Pannunzio); and eventual Central Florida commitment Jeffrey Godfrey (Allen).
The University of Alabama (Pannunzio and Soutland), University of Florida (Hill) and Louisville University (Hurtt) all declined to make the coaches available for interviews. Allen declined comment, calling all of Shapiro’s claims "egregious and false."
But Shapiro insists he came in contact with multiple recruits improperly during their official or unofficial visits going all the way back to 2002.
"Hell yeah, I recruited a lot of kids for Miami," Shapiro said. "With access to the clubs, access to the strip joints. My house. My boat. We’re talking about high school football players. Not anybody can just get into the clubs or strip joints. Who is going to pay for it and make it happen? That was me."
If Louisville is going to deny Shapiro's claims relating to Hurtt, they better be absolutely sure that they have their facts in order. The hammer is about to fall on Miami hard and because of the extremely high-profile nature of this scandal, the NCAA is going to be especially interested in the other schools implicated.
Hurtt was named national recruiter of the year by ESPN after his first season at Louisville, and his decision to turn down Auburn in favor of staying at U of L made Cardinal Nation fall even more in love with him. Even with that being the case, if the allegations laid out here can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the program may have no choice but to part ways with The Big Hurtt.