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August 19, 2011

Sources: Shannon warned team about Shapiro

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The hate / hate relationship between former Miami Football Coach Randy Shannon and booster turned convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro began in Shannon's first days as head coach at Miami.

Sources have told CaneSport that shortly after he was named to replace Larry Coker in 2007 that Shannon threatened his coaching staff with firings if they ever dealt with Shapiro and warned his players about Shapiro multiple times in team meetings during his four-year coaching tenure.

The warnings to players came when Shannon would have discussions about staying away from boosters and agents, talks that may have gone unheeded if any of the allegations being made to the NCAA and Federal Government by Shapiro prove to be true.

When asked by CaneSport to confirm the details provided by another source in attendance for Shannon's talks at the team meetings, a former Miami football staffer no longer employed by the school responded "Absolutely" when asked if he remembered Shannon specifically telling Miami players to stay away from Shapiro.

A source close to Shannon also told CaneSport that Shannon had "spies" around town who warned him that Shapiro was getting into problems throughout South Florida and was a booster that he needed to keep away from his players.

Shannon's rejection of Shapiro was a touchy issue for former athletic director Kirby Hocutt and individuals responsible for fund raising because Shannon refused to even talk to Shapiro, who for some time could be counted on to write big checks to the department.

Shapiro would constantly call anybody in the athletic department that would listen and launch into blistering, profanity-laced and racially-charged tirades at the perceived lack of respect he was being shown by the head coach.

Shannon declined comment on Shapiro or the active NCAA investigation, in which it is believed that he is not a principle figure.

Despite Shannon's efforts, 12 current Miami players have been named by Shapiro as having received illicit benefits from him in the past four years. If the players admit to the infractions or are found to have actually committed them and are suspended for the season, Miami will play with a skeletal team in 2011 and will likely face sanctions that extend into future years.

The 12 players named are quarterback Jacory Harris, whom many expect to be the starter, top receiver Travis Benjamin, top linebacker Sean Spence, top defensive tackle Marcus Forston, safety tandem Ray Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque, receiver Aldarius Johnson, tight end Dyron Dye, cornerback Jo Jo Nicolas and defensive ends Adewale Ojomo, Marcus Robinson and Olivier Vernon.

The players are being accused of receiving food, drinks and entertainment at Shapiro's $6 million Miami Beach mansion, playing in a pool tournament for cash there, being entertained by Shapiro at Lucky Strike Lanes including a "bowling for dollars" tournament over a weekend in September 2008 and receiving drinks and VIP access in nightclubs on a handful of occasions.

Some of these charges or the relationships that led to them have back-up documentation. For example, Yahoo! Sports was able to identify 90 calls or texts between Shapiro and Jacory Harris from July 2009 to December 2009. Of course, those records don't document what was discussed, an example of why this situation will likely be an investigative nightmare for UM and the NCAA.

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