Bob Lutz: Butler did a bad job of advising
08/17/2011 12:00 AM
08/23/2011 3:41 PM
For two guys who haven't been on the field that much during their college football careers, Arthur and Bryce Brown sure stir things up.
Now they're both — especially Arthur — implicated in the Miami Fiasco. In short, Hurricanes booster and current resident of Cell Block B, Nevin Shapiro, was the crazy, rich alum your college coaches used to warn you about.
Shapiro, according to a comprehensive report on Yahoo Sports published Tuesday, handed out money, meals, gifts, jewelry, yacht trips, prostitutes, televisions and other gifts to Miami players, which Arthur Brown used to be until transferring to Kansas State following the 2009 season.
That, I'm sure you agree, fits the definition of "fiasco."
Bryce, on the other hand, only committed to Miami before his East senior season (2008). He ended up going to Tennessee, then left Knoxville to join his brother at K-State. Both are expected — expected — to be major contributors in 2011, especially with K-State's statement Wednesday that the NCAA has told the school "that it has no concerns" about the brothers' eligibility.
Still, there's nothing to like about this.
Arthur Brown, according to the Yahoo report, was the recipient of dinner at a posh Miami Japanese steakhouse and made a visit to a strip club, The Cheetah, on Shapiro's dime.
He also was part of a lunch at Smith & Wollensky on March 30, 2008, that came to $532 and, Yahoo reports, included his parents, Bryce, adviser Brian Butler and former Hurricane Randy Phillips.
Two rooms at the Continental Oceanfront Hotel in late March 2008 for Arthur's parents, brother and Butler, totaling $1,110.19, also were picked up by Shapiro, Yahoo documents.
And there were other documented cases of Arthur Brown being dined by Shapiro.
The NCAA, you can bet, is responding to the entire report with red lights and sirens. But where to start?
Shapiro's involvement with Bryce Brown and his family and cohorts is just a small part of Shapiro's alleged seedy involvement with Miami players and coaches. And, while clad in an orange jump suit, I presume, he sang like a canary to Yahoo's Charles Robinson, who broke this story.
The Yahoo report includes photos of Shapiro with players, several of whom are currently in the NFL. And pictures of Shapiro with former Miami basketball coach Frank Haith, who left to take over at Missouri in the spring with the kind of baggage the Mizzou administration could never have expected.
There's also a picture of Shapiro and Miami president Donna Shalala, taken shortly after Shapiro had handed her a $50,000 check. It's a picture that speaks more than 50,000 words.
That the Brown brothers, their parents and their adviser, Butler, are involved in this mess speaks poorly for all of them.
Butler, a former high school football player at Northwest, has been a figure in all of this since first getting involved with local high school players in 2007. At first, it seemed innocent enough. His showcase workout for local players, including the Brown brothers and sponsored by Nike, drew coaches such as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, then-Florida coach Urban Meyer and Pete Carroll, who at that time coached Southern California.
Within months, Butler filed paperwork in Kansas to establish a recruiting business, L.I.F.E. Training LLC, and a non-profit organization, Potential Players Foundation, of which Arthur Brown Sr. was a board member.
A New York Times story about Butler and his involvement with the Brown brothers and other high school players in February 2009 was followed six months later by the NCAA checking into Butler and his dealings with players. There were no infractions.
Still, people have always been curious about Butler's involvement. Arthur Brown's recruitment was relatively low-key and he stuck to his Miami commitment. Bryce's, though, went through several interesting twists and turns before he settled on Tennessee.
Butler has been his most staunch defender through the years, denying to anyone who would listen that he had his hand out or that he was encouraging his clients to look for recruiting incentives. His role, he has said, has been to answer questions and offer advice and to help players reach their potential.
You have to wonder.
Reached by The Eagle on Tuesday night, Butler acknowledged spending time with Shapiro along with the Browns, but said no one realized Shapiro was a Miami booster.
"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 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.''
If Butler was indeed an adviser to the Brown brothers, how could he not be aware that the meals and hotel rooms he was accepting from Shapiro, booster or not, were in violation of NCAA rules?
This is a guy who had been with the Browns through their extensive recruitment. He was with them on visits to various schools around the country. In his position with such high-profile athletes, he had to know what he could do and what he couldn't do.
So did Arthur and Bryce Brown, and so did their parents. That none of them expressed concern at being given meals, hotel rooms and visits to a strip club is telling and damning.
About Bob Lutz
Bob Lutz has been The Eagle's sports columnist since 1996. A native of Derby, he has worked for the newspaper since 1974 and covered a variety of beats, from high schools to Wichita State to pro sports. If you want to get in good with him, mention the St. Louis Cardinals. Provided they're winning, of course.
Contact Bob at 316-268-6597 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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