Prepare to face the hatred once again

Well, how was everybody’s summer? Hear anything interesting?

You might have heard the Yahoo! reports, alleging former Miami athletic booster and $930 million ponzi-schemer Nevin Shapiro provided countless inadmissible benefits to 72 former and current football players. The story’s been making the rounds as of late.

NFL-stars Andre Johnson, Vince Wilfork, Jonathan Vilma, and current players Jacory Harris, Travis Benjamin and Ray-Ray Armstrong have all been linked to Shapiro in one way or another. He had two different million-dollar mansions in Miami Beach, a $1.6 million yacht, and almost a billion dollars of stolen money he wanted to spend for the admiration of strangers with a fast 40-yard dash.

Why boosters, whose only purpose is to inject money and influence an athletic program, are allowed to even come in contact with players is beyond me.

For as much as universities and the NCAA strive to keep dollars out of the hands of the athletes that earn them, the possibility of a booster cutting out the middle man and giving directly to the players was never discussed?

From experience, both personal and anecdotal, football boosters are the most untrustworthy, slimiest people associated with sports of any kind, at any level.

Most – and by that I mean with the exception of a rare few – athletic boosters are nobodies with a lot of money who want to buy status, power, and sadly, friendship by associating themselves with 18-year-old kids impressed by their shiny toys. And they don’t like to be told how to spend or not spend their money (see: Randy Shannon’s firing).

Speaking on the potential and likely infractions specifically, the parties at million-dollar mansions in Miami Beach and VIP access to Mansion in South Beach may sound completely alien to someone in Gainesville or anyone living in the Midwest, but the truth is that’s the culture we live and love.

I’d guess all students here have at least heard or seen fellow students partake in the same things accused of the 72 players, so the news isn’t all that shocking – to us.

The schools of the Bible Belt needed only one reason to connect the sins of modern day Sodom and Gomorrah to the football program that lies just a few miles south, and does nothing to distance itself from that reputation.

Remember when they first aired “The U,” and for the next six months no one in Coral Gables could finish a sentence without the word “swag/swagger”? Even I, alleged impartial reporter, went out and bought a “Catholics Vs. Convicts” T-shirt from Billy Corbin’s website. Well, with the exception of actually winning games, this feeling currently surrounding the program is the closest thing to the late 80s/early 90s we as a fanbase will ever experience.

Some of us are finding out how we don’t actually like to be hated or vilified, we just like to remind others how we once were.

Get ready, because the hate’s not going to stop anytime soon.

August 21, 2011


Austen Gregerson

Staff Columnist

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