September 14, 2011

Will recruiting allegations impact U of L?

By Andrew Haddad–

Everyone who follows college football witnessed the downfall of one, possibly two, great college football
powers of the last decade this summer. Shouldering much of the unwanted spotlight is the University of Miami Hurricanes. First reported in a Yahoo! Sports report, the accusations against the Hurricanes revolve around former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro. Shapiro, who is now in prison for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme, told Yahoo! Sports that he supplied benefits to a multitude of Miami players from 2002 to 2010.

Among the things that Shapiro asserts that could prove troubling to University of Louisville football fans is that current U of L assistant coach and head recruiter Clint Hurtt was reportedly a direct connection for Shapiro between recruits and the University of Miami, even calling Hurtt a close friend.

Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich spoke in a press release regarding the details of the Yahoo! Sports report.

“We are aware of the Yahoo! Sports story and take these allegations very seriously. The NCAA has informed us that they wish to speak with Clint Hurtt regarding his time at the University of Miami, and we will cooperate fully throughout this process,” said Jurich.

Until proven otherwise, one should assume that Hurtt is innocent. The evidence against the University of Miami is staggering—to the point that sports pundits are entertaining several ideas about serious potential punishment for the university.

You might be wondering where does U of L come in to play here? Thankfully, recruiting-wise it doesn’t, officially at least.  The situation provokes speculation about Louisville players who were recruited by Hurtt at Miami, and subsequently followed him to Louisville when Hurtt was hired in 2009. Hurtt was credited with bringing in an assemblage of recruits from South Florida last year, including ESPN top 150 prospects freshmen quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, wide receiver Eli Rogers and safety Gerod Holliman, while on his way to winning ESPN’s Recruiter of the Year award.

There is no doubt that he can recruit, but these recent allegations force U of L fans to ask the question—could this happen to us? Head coach Charlie Strong doesn’t think so.

“We succeeded in recruiting because of people like him,” Strong said. “Recruiting is the bloodline of our program. We have to turn it around. Teddy [Bridgewater] and this class starts the whole ball rolling. We can’t get complacent. Everyone will do a better job against us. We have made people take notice of Louisville.”

These are comforting words for U of L fans and all surrounding Louisville football are hoping that none of the violations will make their way north from Miami. While Louisville need not fret, Hurtt could very well be facing some serious issues for which there may be no panacea. The NCAA has only asked to interview Hurtt so far, and no decision has been made. Coach Hurtt has not been able to be reached for contact by the media.

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Photo: Michael Baldwin/The Louisville Cardinal

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