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Report links Devin Hester to University of Miami scandal

Former Miami booster NevShapiro said DevHester gave him this signed phowith following inscription: To: Nevin. Devin’s big cuz 4 Life.

Former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro said Devin Hester gave him this signed photo with the following inscription: To: Nevin. Devin’s big cuz 4 Life. D Hester #4 “Go Canes.” | Yahoo! Sports

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Updated: November 3, 2011 9:37AM

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Bears wide receiver Devin Hester was one of several former University of Miami football players who received illegal benefits from a former Hurricanes booster in an ‘‘eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking,’’ according to an investigation by Yahoo! Sports.

Nevin Shapiro, 42, of Miami Beach, was sentenced in June to a 20-year prison term after being convicted of securities fraud and money laundering as part of a $930  million Ponzi scheme.

In an online report that resulted from an exhaustive, 11-month investigation by Yahoo! Sports, Shapiro said he spent millions of dollars on benefits for at least 72 athletes at Miami from 2002 to 2010 — including, according to Yahoo!, ‘‘cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multi-million-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and on one occasion, an abortion.’’

The report said Hester, who played for Miami from 2003 to ’05, received an engagement ring and cash for rims on his SUV from Shapiro. Hester also was among several players who received ‘‘suits and clothing’’ and ‘‘lodging on Shapiro’s yacht or in his homes,’’ the report said.

The report included a picture of Hester and former Hurricanes star Vince Wilfork with Shapiro in the VIP section of the Opium Gardens nightclub in Miami Beach in 2003.

Hester, Wilfork, Andre Johnson, Kellen Winslow Jr., Antrel Rolle and 12 players currently on the Miami roster were among those who received benefits from Shapiro, the report said. The NCAA declined comment to Yahoo! Sports.

Chris Freet, Miami’s associate athletic director for communications, told Yahoo!: ‘‘The school has been cooperating with an NCAA probe. Nine former Miami players or recruits and one former coach, were among those who corroborated many of Shapiro’s claims.’’

Former running back Tyrone Moss confirmed that Shapiro once gave him $1,000 and hosted him on Shapiro’s yacht.

‘‘Yeah. It was me and some other players with my incoming [class],’’ Moss told Yahoo! Sports. ‘‘I’m not going to say the names, but you can probably figure them out yourself. When I was getting there my freshman year, it was me and a couple more players. . . . It was me and a few more of the guys in my incoming class that he kind of showed some love to.’’

If the NCAA confirms even a sliver of claims in the Yahoo! report, it would be a crushing blow to Miami.

According to Shapiro, his free-wheeling, brazen flaunting of NCAA rules was unchecked by the university. At least six coaches — three from the football program and three from the basketball program — had knowledge of or participation in the improprieties, according to Yahoo! Sports. Among them were several recruiting violations, including hosting recruits at Shapiro’s home or luxury suite. Shapiro also was co-owner of a sports agency while a Miami booster and gave cars and cash and helped funnel Miami players to the agency, the report said.

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