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Holy Cow, What a Tuesday

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Well, at least UNC's latest addition to the smoldering tire fire is off the front page of the college sports world...

Television station WTVD is reporting that a UNC campus police officer, who was part of Butch Davis' personal game-day security detail, may have improperly handled an on-campus, single-vehicle crash in May involving UNC football players.

Sgt. Shawn Smith, who was assigned to Davis for both home and away games, is a self-identified UNC fan who bragged about this fact on Twitter. On May 29th, Smith investigated the Mason Farm Road crash involving Herman Davidson, who transferred out of the UNC program at the end of the spring semester, as well as players Carl Gaskins, Jr., Dion Guy and Ebele Okakpu.

Davidson was driving the car, which belonged to Okakpu's father, when he allegedly swerved to miss an oncoming car. The car flipped but there were no injuries. The police report notes Davidson had alcohol on his breath but was not impaired. Davidson was issued a ticket for driving without a license but no further charges were issued.  Smith initially noted in the report that Davidson was driving at the posted speed but the report was amended later to note a speed of 45 in a 25 MPH zone.

Smith resigned from the UNC police department on July 15th and denied there was any cover-up of the incident. Smith also declined to say whether or not his handling of this case was the impetus for his resignation, but he did tell WTVD that it was a "self-inflicted wound" and a "hard lesson learned."

On a normal day, this would be another black eye for a program that is running out of eyes to blacken. Once again, someone with a close connection to Butch Davis and a self-avowed fan provided a potentially shady benefit to UNC football players.

And then along came Miami.

Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson (a UNC fan favorite) has a piece today describing a "renegade booster", who is in jail for his role in a nearly $1 billion Ponzi scheme, as having provided "thousands of impermissible benefits to at least 72 athletes from 2002 through 2010."

As Robinson notes:

In 100 hours of jailhouse interviews during Yahoo! Sports’ 11-month investigation, Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro described a sustained, eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking, some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs. At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-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.

Also among the revelations were damning details of Shapiro’s co-ownership of a sports agency – Axcess Sports & Entertainment – for nearly his entire tenure as a Hurricanes booster. The same agency that signed two first-round picks from Miami, Vince Wilfork and Jon Beason, and recruited dozens of others while Shapiro was allegedly providing cash and benefits to players. In interviews with federal prosecutors, Shapiro said many of those same players were also being funneled cash and benefits by his partner at Axcess, then-NFL agent and current UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue. Shapiro said he also made payments on behalf of Axcess, including a $50,000 lump sum to Wilfork, as a recruiting tool for the agency.

The story simply has to be read to be believed, given the depth of allegations of NCAA violations within the Hurricane program.  Shapiro alleges breaking NCAA rules with the knowledge and/or participation of a half-dozen football coaches, as well as a number of basketball coaches including former head coach Frank Haith, who is now in the same position at Missouri. Shapiro also claims he paid for prostitutes for players, provided cash bonuses and bounties, and gave numerous illegal cash and merchandise to players. He also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the university, money Shapiro says was from the Ponzi scheme.

There is far too much to this story to try and summarize here, but if all of this is substantiated (and much of it has been by the research by Yahoo Sports and Shapiro's cooperation with federal investigators), this is potentially the most far-reaching scandal ever in college athletics. And in a delicious sense of irony, the athletic director at Miami for most of the time of these violations was Paul Dee, who just completed his term as chair of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions.

Much to the chagrin of ABCers, the revelation of the car-wreck prong of the UNC tire fire is now lost in the smoking nuclear crater that was the Miami athletic department. And maybe even Gregg Doyel will acknowledge UNC is no longer the turd in the college football punchbowl. But I will say this: Yahoo Sports has become the 21st century sports equivalent of the old adage about 60 Minutes - just like you didn't want to see 60 Minutes show up at your door in the 80s, you don't want Yahoo Sports to show up on your campus today. Or as ESPN's Ryan McGee tweeted, two people you don't want to see in your town: Jim Cantore and Charles Robinson.

More to come on both these breaking stories.