For sheer scale, scope and ambition, there is no competition: The excesses bankrolled by Miami booster and convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro between 2002 and 2009 are far beyond anything uncovered in college football in the last 25 years, at least, if not in the history in the sport. But in Shapiro's mind, he was merely carrying on the tradition left by the U's original lord of largess, Luther Campbell, "the first uncle who took care of the players" before Shapiro wormed his way into the fold more than a decade later. "His role was diminished by the NCAA and the school, and someone needed to pick up that mantle," Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports. "That someone was me. He was 'Uncle Luke.' and I became 'Little Luke.'" They even went to the same high school.
Well. As it so happens, Nevin Shapiro knew Uncle Luke, he ate with Uncle Luke, he hung out in the press box with Uncle Luke, he had Uncle Luke over to his house. And as far as Uncle Luke is concerned, Nevin Shapiro is no Uncle Luke.
In fact, with Shapiro back in the headlines and his beloved program on the brink of destruction, Campbell felt strongly enough about the subject to use his regular column in the Miami NewTimes today to inform the world that "Nevin Shapiro Can Kiss My Ass":
Nevin Shapiro wishes he could wear my shorts for one day. The New Jersey-born Napoleon dubbed himself "Little Luke" in a so-called investigative report by Yahoo Sports claiming all sorts of corrupt [profane] Shapiro committed while he was a booster of the University of Miami athletics program.
The claims even include hooking up football players with prostitutes and buying them bottles at Club Mansion. That punk could never be me.
If Nevin really wanted people to see him as "Little Luke," then he would have dedicated part of his life to helping kids in Miami's inner city neighborhoods get a college education. He certainly never started a youth athletic program that has been around for more than 30 years helping underprivileged parents in Liberty City mold their children.
It has never been about money for me. It's always been about community service. That's what being Uncle Luke is really about.
Campbell goes on to describe Shapiro as, among other things, a "jailhouse snitch," a "sketchy mother[profane]," a "beady-eyed defamer" and "all about himself." He advises the NCAA that it "shouldn't even waste gas money on this guy," and the warden at the prison where Shapiro is currently serving a 20-year sentence to keep him in the general population.
Campbell would also like to clear up a few old misconceptions. One: Unlike Shapiro, he was never "a booster"; he never gave money to the university or the football program. Two: Despite his reputation, he never broke NCAA rules when was "the team's biggest fan" in the 1980s, and in fact was cleared by the NCAA. (Although he did regularly host players at his strip club and may have once threatened to rat out the athletic department if Ryan Collins wasn't named the starting quarterback.) And three: Under no circumstances would he "have ever paid for a stripper to abort a baby allegedly fathered by a UM football player," as Shapiro claims he did. Because bankrolling an epic scandal is one thing, but a man's got to have a code.