Convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro is back in the news again.
Shapiro claims he won 23 substantial bets on University of Miami football games as a result from inside information given to him from "players, coaches and athletic department staffers," according to Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel and Alexander Wolff. Shapiro detailed one alleged wager on a game between Miami and North Carolina State:
[Shapiro] told SI that several days before favored Miami lost 19-16 to N.C. State on Nov. 3, 2007, he learned from a coach that [Miami] quarterback Kyle Wright would be benched due to a bad knee and ankle. Shapiro said he got his bet in before the benching became public, and the line moved from 13 points to 11. Records show that six days after the game, nine wires moved $1.18 million from one Shapiro business to another. Shapiro claims it was all money from the N.C. State game.
This sounds bad at first, but let's look at this more carefully.
The SI report doesn't indicate if the man who handled Shapiro's wagers, Adam Meyer of AdamWins.com, supplied documentation that backs up Shapiro's claims.
The report does note that "Shapiro supplied SI with financial statements and bank records from 2005 to ’08 that show dozens of five- and six-figure sums moving from Shapiro’s entities to Adam Meyer’s during the college football season."
That certainly doesn't prove Shapiro bet on college football games, much less Miami games.
The NFL runs concurrently with the college football season. The NBA and college basketball also have scheduled games during part of the college football season. Any first-year law school student could make the argument that unless there is documentation showing Shapiro specifically bet on Miami football games due to inside information, there is no substantial proof of wrongdoing.
Maybe Shapiro was paying off his gambling debts. Maybe Meyer was in need of a loan and Shapiro helped him out. Maybe Shapiro bet on the Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers game on November 2. We can not say with certainty that these reported money transfers were actually wagers.
If Meyer were to submit to an NCAA investigator's interview and show his ledger of bets from Shapiro, there might be something to these new claims. But only if the NCAA could prove those bets were due to inside information.
Unless these tipsters are still at Miami or any NCAA-member school—after six years and an explosive Yahoo!Sports story, that seems unlikely—they cannot be forced to talk to the NCAA's investigators.
Because the NCAA does not have subpoena power, Meyer does not have to speak with its investigators as well. It is doubtful a man with a handicapping operation wants his name mentioned in any investigation. This bodes well for Miami.
Shapiro also told SI that he "wouldn’t consent to an interview with the NCAA to discuss his gambling on Miami games after the NCAA balked at paying for his attorney to attend the interview." Shapiro, it would seem, is not going to give the NCAA anything more than a tease. Another win for Miami.
If Shapiro did decide to flip and start talking, there would have to be some corroborating evidence to support his claims. More than just his words. More than documents showing money going in and out without a specific trail.
The NCAA has bungled this two-year investigation with swarmy investigative tactics, at best. It needs a solid stack of evidence if it is going to make its case against Miami. The court of public opinion is biased toward the U and distrustful of the NCAA. The Association will need more than the flimsy evidence it nailed USC with in 2010.
The word of a convicted felon who orchestrated a $930 million Ponzi scheme is not enough. Neither is a new report with vague claims subject to multiple interpretations.
Right now, Miami should not be worried over U.S. Penitentiary (Atlanta) inmate #61311-050's new claims.
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