MANHATTAN — Former East High football players Bryce and Arthur Brown both received impermissible benefits from a Miami booster before they transferred to Kansas State, according to a Yahoo Sports report published Tuesday.
The report details how Nevin Shapiro, a former Miami booster who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme, broke NCAA rules by providing benefits to 72 athletes in the form of cash, prostitutes, entertainment, travel, yacht trips, jewelry, televisions and other gifts.
The Brown brothers, their parents and adviser Brian Butler accepted hotel rooms and a meal from Shapiro in late March 2008, according to the report.
Shapiro paid for two hotel rooms, registered to Arthur Brown Sr. and Butler, with an American Express card.
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In addition, Arthur Brown had dinner at Japanese steakhouse Benihana and a paid trip to a strip club along with other players during his freshman season, according to Yahoo Sports. Shapiro also claims to have paid for food, drinks and entertainment at Lucky Strike Lanes, and that Brown had food and drinks at Shapiro's $6 million mansion on multiple occasions. Arthur Brown played two seasons at Miami.
Bryce Brown, a sophomore running back and top high school recruit who committed to Miami but ended up starting his college career at Tennessee, reportedly received a lunch at Smith & Wollensky on March 30, 2008, totaling $532 that included his older brother, parents, Butler and former Miami player Randy Phillips.
After two disappointing seasons at Miami, in which he was mostly a special-teams player and recorded 17 tackles, Arthur Brown transferred to K-State. Bryce Brown spent one season at Tennessee, and also decided to transfer to K-State.
Both players sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules.
K-State football coach Bill Snyder and the Brown brothers were unavailable for comment Tuesday. K-State officials have not responded to requests for comment.
When contacted Tuesday night, Butler said he and the Brown family did not realize Shapiro was a Miami booster.
"We asked him are you an agent or a street agent or a booster, and he told us no, that he was not," Butler said.
"In our case, he did invite us to lunch and we did go to lunch, and he did reserve some rooms for us, for myself and Mr. Brown senior. Those things, I can say that he did....
"He just said he was a guy who loved Miami," Butler said. "He never went there. He was just a fan of the program and a guy who helped players who came from out of state. That's what he told us who he was, and why he took us out to lunch. After that weekend we never met for any lunch, dinner or anything again with him. Those are the facts."
Butler said nothing that happened during the weekend visit seemed like a recruiting violation.
"He wasn't giving us money and trying to pay us to bring Bryce or Arthur there. Arthur was already at the school. We didn't get to see the yacht and the mansion. People are trying to make it seem like I'm some agent. He brought that up, I don't know where he got that from."
Shapiro has said multiple times in the past year, including in the Yahoo Sports story posted Tuesday, that he is angry with several of the players he claims to have helped when they were Hurricanes. Miami officials began cooperating with NCAA investigators not long after Shapiro made claims about his involvement with players last year. University president Donna Shalala and athletic director Shawn Eichorst were questioned by the NCAA this week.
Yahoo Sports says it spent 100 hours interviewing Shapiro over the span of 11 months and audited thousands of pages financial and business records to try and substantiate his claims.
Shapiro was sentenced in June after he admitted to securities fraud and money laundering. He was also ordered to pay more than $82 million in restitution to his victims.
Shapiro said he gave money and gifts to players including Vince Wilfork, Jon Beason, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester, Willis McGahee and the late Sean Taylor. Shapiro also claimed he paid for nightclub outings, sex parties, and in one case, an abortion for a woman impregnated by a player. One former Miami player, running back Tyrone Moss, told Yahoo Sports he accepted $1,000 from Shapiro around the time he was entering college.
"Hell yeah, I recruited a lot of kids for Miami," Shapiro told Yahoo Sports. "With access to the clubs, access to the strip joints. My house. My boat. We're talking about high school football players. Not anybody can just get into the clubs or strip joints. Who is going to pay for it and make it happen? That was me."
Several current Miami players are among those cited in the report.
Miami coach Al Golden, who was hired in December, acknowledged Tuesday that some of his players may have made mistakes.
"We'll stay focused. I'm certain of that," Golden said. "We're disappointed but we're not discouraged. And again, there's going to be a life lesson here. We're talking about allegations from a man that's behind bars, now. If these do hold some truth, then we'll deal with them. There's no other way to do it."