Kansas State and the University of Miami are set to meet on the football field in a little more than five weeks from now.
Yet the two programs find themselves in the headlines for all the wrong reasons today, as Miami is left to pick up the pieces following a damaging report released by Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday that outlined hundreds of possible NCAA violations involving imprisoned booster Nevin Shapiro.
And while K-State is just a bystander in the Hurricanes’ troubles, two current Wildcats — Arthur and Bryce Brown — are now coming under fire for their reported involvement in the scandal that involved at least 70 other athletes and numerous Miami football and basketball coaches from 2002-10.
The Browns, both heavily recruited and ranked among the top players in high school from Wichita East, have had very specific charges leveled against them in the last 24 hours.
Arthur, who played two years at Miami before transferring to K-State a year ago, was named in six specific allegations, stemming from expensive dinners, visits to strip clubs, free hotel rooms, transportation and drinks provided by Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year sentence for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme.
The specific allegations involving Arthur and Bryce, according to Yahoo, include:
• A dinner at Japanese steakhouse Benihana and a strip club visit during Brown’s freshman season in which Shapiro paid for drinks and private entertainment in a VIP area.
• Lunch at Smith & Wollensky in 2008, totaling $532 for Arthur, Bryce, their parents, family adviser Brian Butler and Randy Phillips (former Miami defensive back).
• Two rooms at the Continental Oceanfront Hotel in 2008 for Arthur, Bryce their parents, and Butler — totaling $1,110.19.
• Food, drinks and entertainment at Lucky Strike Lanes on at least one occasion.
• Transportation from Hurricanes equipment manager Sean Allen at the direction of Shapiro.
• Food, drinks and entertainment during multiple pool tournaments at Shapiro’s $6 million Miami Beach mansion.
“I gave (Arthur) a few rides in my car,” Shapiro told Yahoo. “I gave him cash a few times — not significant amounts. Maybe $100 here (or) $50 here. He was a very quiet individual. We took him to a strip joint called The Cheetah in Hallandale.”
Bryce, who was the top-ranked player in the Class of 2009, had originally committed to Miami and Shapiro admitted to having improper contact with the running back during that time. Bryce ultimately chose Tennessee after a long, drawn-out decision-making process. He played there only one season before transferring to K-State a year ago and sitting out last season due to transfer rules.
The one name that popped up throughout the portion of the report against the Browns is that of Butler, who has been a longtime “family advisor” and “mentor.” Butler has come under fire in recent years, though, for his role in the Brown’s lives.
Butler’s involvement has been far reaching, as he helped train and market the Browns through his company Potential Players. At one point, Butler was charging a fee for inside recruiting news involving his two most prized clients. He claimed the money went to help fund trips to colleges during the summer.
The goal of Potential Players, according to a statement on its Website is “to assist student-athletes in making positive decisions by recognizing the impact their lives have in our world; while preparing them physically and spiritually to overcome the challenges of life.”
The most scathing look at Butler’s “mentoring” of the Browns came from the New York Times in a story published in February of 2009.
It was in that piece that Butler said he was upset with former K-State coach Ron Prince because he discouraged K-State boosters from donating to Butler’s company. A booster’s donation, in an attempt to sway a recruit to a specific program would be considered an NCAA violation and Prince knew that.
“Recruiting for college football is obviously changing,” Prince told the New York Times. “It’s become much more like the basketball model. When that happens, you then have people who are intermediaries like this gentleman is.”
During 100 hours of jailhouse interviews with Yahoo, Shapiro outlined his direct involvement with the Browns and Butler.
“(Arthur) also wanted me to meet his brother, who was going to be the number one recruited player coming out of high school that following year named Bryce Brown,” Shapiro said. “I set up a trip for his mom, dad and spiritual adviser — which is another name for an agent — Brian Butler. They all came from Kansas. I put them up at a hotel on Miami Beach.”
It’s not yet known what, if any ramifications, could come from this investigation for K-State’s two star players. Several reports have indicated that if both Arthur and Bryce go ahead and play when the season opens on Sept. 3, K-State might be running the risk of using ineligible players, which could then lead to vacated wins and NCAA violations against the Wildcats. Then again, it took the NCAA nearly a year to rule on the Cam Newton situation at Auburn last season.
K-State officials and the Browns have not been made available for comment on this story.