3:08 PM EDT, August 24, 2011
The sting is going to last for quite some time.
Former University of Miami All-American Kenard Lang still was distraught Thursday night last week when asked about the allegations of major NCAA rules violations made against his alma mater.
"It's extremely disappointing and very disturbing how all of these things can happen," said Lang, who played for the Hurricanes from 1994-96 and now is head football coach at Jones High School in Orlando. "It hurts your heart. I don't condone any of it, at all. Accepting gifts? Players know they're not supposed to, but what are they going to say? Some of them have parents who fight to keep them fed. What are they going to say if someone wants to take them for a $300 dinner … no thank you?"
Yahoo! Sports a week ago reported claims that more than 70 former, current or prospective Miami student athletes were provided cash, gifts, and other improper benefits by former UM booster Nevin Shapiro, a convicted Ponzi schemer. Shapiro provided Yahoo! with receipts, photographs and other evidence to corroborate his claims, made during jailhouse interviews over an 11-month period. The NCAA is now investigating the UM program.
Shapiro claimed top-notch prospects during recruiting trips to the school would be treated to expensive dinners, parties on Shapiro's $1 million yacht, trips to Miami strip clubs and sessions with prostitutes.
"They were taking advantage of these young kids," Lang said, "just so they could say, 'Hey, I was out with so-and-so, and I had my picture taken with so-and-so.'
"Everything is all hunky dory and he's this big Miami booster hanging with the players. But then, he does something wrong and gets caught and he wants to sit there like a little bird and chatter. You go to jail and now you want to snitch?"
Lang has two players looking at Miami for their futures. Junior ATH Levonte "Kermit" Whitfield committed to the Hurricanes in the spring, while senior OL Duaron Williams has been strongly considering UM.
That was before Tuesday's revelation.
"Everybody knows it's the kind of thing that goes on sort of behind the scenes," said Williams, the No. 10-ranked player in the Sentinel's 2012 Central Florida Super60. "But when it gets reported, that's really bad for the school."
Other Miami prospects are re-thinking their futures, as well.
Winter Garden West Orange safety Lucas Thompson, the No. 9 player in the Sentinel's 2012 Central Florida Super60, has had Miami atop his list of possible colleges from the beginning of his recruitment.
"Miami is still like my top school. All that stuff happened years ago and this coaching staff has nothing to do with that," said Thompson, who will make his college decision on national TV at the Under Armour All-American Game in January. His top five schools are currently Miami, South Carolina, Louisville, West Virginia and East Carolina. "I'm still playing high school football, so I'm just worried about West Orange right now. We're still waiting to hear what's going to happen (with the Miami investigation)."
Thompson said if the Hurricanes get slapped with anything like a four-year post-season probation, they are off his list. As for a shorter penalty, say two-year probation, "That wouldn't really bother me too much really, because I'd just be a sophomore. The junior and senior seasons we could still go to bowl games as juniors and seniors."
Chris Hays covers college football recruiting for the Sentinel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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