Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Perhaps the most embarrassing moment in the evolving University of Miami athletics scandal came with the release of a photograph that featured UM President Donna Shalala accepting a $50,000 check from booster Nevin Shapiro.
Unfortunately for UM, Shapiro turned out to be the architect of a $930-million Ponzi scheme and now resides in federal prison. Perhaps worse than that, Shalala was wearing a goofy grin as she accepted Shapiro's check (photo above).
What do we learn from this photo? University administrators love to get their greedy hands on cash--from almost any source. As long as the check clears, folks in the "ivory tower" aren't likely to ask too many questions. And that raises this question: How much dirty money circulates on America's college campuses? The answer probably is "quite a bit."
We have one piece of good news for Shalala: She's hardly alone in academia; quite a few of her colleagues are more than happy to grab easy money from questionable sources. Let's consider just two examples that we are aware of here in Alabama.
In 2002, the University of Alabama--that's the mother ship, in Tuscaloosa--rolled out a press release to announce that Paul Bryant Jr. had given $10 million to help launch the Crimson Tradition Fund. Bryant, the son of legendary UA football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, was named chairman of the campaign, which was designed to raise $100 million for Crimson Tide athletics. Bryant also was a member of the university's board of trustees, a position he still holds.
With Bryant's cash in the hopper, UA was able to attract other big gifts, like this one from the president of a Texas-based natural-gas outfit. Not only did Bryant pony up some serious dough, he became one of the campaign's chief arm twisters and its public voice: