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Miami's Shalala lacks integrity

University president has history of unethical decisions

August 21, 2011
By MATT WELLENS - Journal Sports Editor ( , The Mining Journal

University of Miami President Donna Shalala is a crook, and it didn't take a Yahoo! Sports report and photo for me to realize this about the former University of Wisconsin chancellor and member of the Bill Clinton administration.

No, I learned all I needed to know about Shalala's ethics during my three years working for a Gannett newspaper in Manitowoc, Wis.

Shalala was a member of Gannett's board of directors from 2001 until this year when she reached the mandatory age for retirement. During her time on the board, she was paid more than $800,000 and was one of the board members who hired now CEO Craig Dubow in 2005.

Since Dubow's hiring, the price of Gannett stock has tumbled from around $70 a share to about $10 as of Friday. The scarier statistic is since Dubow's hiring by Shalala and her fellow board members, the CEO has slashed an estimated 20,000 jobs.

Yet, Shalala and her colleagues as recently as 2010 approved a $1.75 million cash bonus for Dubow.

The reason for his bonus in 2010: Dubow was successful in reducing company costs through layoffs, furloughs (unpaid vacations) and other measures.

Shalala has a history of ignoring the little guy, especially during her time at the University of Miami.

In 2006, custodial workers went on strike because of unfair labor practices, low wages and a lack of health insurance. While Shalala lived in luxury - she was quoted by the New York Times just before the strike saying the household chore she enjoyed least was, "Making my bed. Fortunately someone comes around and makes it for me" - custodial workers' wages failed to exceed the federal poverty line.

Pressure from students and the community eventually resulted in the workers getting a raise and health benefits.

Now it's time for the University of Miami students, faculty and community to pressure Shalala again and this time, she needs to be booted out of South Beach.

If they don't step up, the university obviously won't.

The chairman of Miami's board of trustees, Leonard Abess, sees nothing wrong with Shalala's involvement in this scandal after backing her in a letter this week.

Like Shalala, he was "troubled" by the allegations made by booster Nevin Shapiro that he used the $930 million he made on a Ponzi scheme to shower Hurricanes' athletes with meals, money, jewelry, clothes, travel, televisions and hookers, among other things.

Shapiro threw parties at nightclubs and on his yacht for athletes, he posted bounties for injuring opposing players, though the most disgusting thing he ever did was pay for an abortion.

In her statement, Shalala said she was "upset, disheartened and saddened" by the allegations, which include a photo of her accepting a $50,000 check - all Ponzi scheme money - from Shapiro during a basketball fundraiser in 2008 with head coach Frank Haith.

Shalala should be "upset, disheartened and saddened" specifically at herself for what happened at Miami for nearly a decade, especially after Shapiro threw up a red flag on himself by trying to start a fistfight with the compliance director in the Orange Bowl press box while the Hurricanes football team was being routed 31-0 at halftime.

That incident was in 2007.

There are a lot of athletes - many of whom were never involved in this scandal - who will pay for the sins of the 72 athletes accused of accepting illegal benefits from Shapiro and those athletes will pay dearly whether they accepted the thousands of dollars or not.

But what becomes of the coaches and administrators who banked millions off of Shapiro's actions?

Nothing will happen and that's what.

Shalala will resign eventually and retire to her lap of luxury, with her only penalty being shame.

Then athletic director Paul Dee is already in hiding having stepped down in 2008 from his post and like Shalala, will only have his reputation hurt, not his wallet.

Like Shalala, Dee too has a history of being a wonderful human being by overseeing the Miami athletic department when 80 athletes falsified Pell Grant applications to secure more than $220,000 in federal grant money, along with the more than $400,000 football players received in improper benefits in the '90s.

Yet a man of Dee's stature headed up the NCAA's committee on infractions in 2010, hitting the University of Southern California hard for violations committed by Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo - violations that seem petty compared to what went on at Miami during Dee's watch.

College sports has been rocked by the scandals at USC and Ohio State recently, but neither of those have exposed the hypocrisy and corruption in the NCAA like the scandal at Miami.

I hope something comes of this and major changes are made in the NCAA. Instead of just banning athletes for cheating, it's time to banish coaches and administrators as well - from the equipment managers to the university presidents who oversee all.

I have my doubts, however, that college sports will join pro sports in properly dealing with cheaters - even though college has joined the pros in almost everything else but paying players.

As long as cheaters are being appointed to judge and punish fellow cheaters, the NCAA will remain in the headlines not for all the good that comes of college sports, but the bad.



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