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Wilfork named in Miami scandal

He allegedly got $50k from booster

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / August 17, 2011

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Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork was named on a list of at least 72 players from 2002-10 who received money and other benefits from a booster while playing for the University of Miami, Yahoo! Sports reported yesterday.

Wilfork allegedly received a $50,000 payment from former Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro during his junior season in exchange for signing with Shapiro’s agency, Axcess Sports. Wilfork signed with the agency and was the 21st overall pick in 2004.

“[I asked Wilfork] ‘What’s it going to take for [you] to sign with Axcess [Sports]?’ We gave him $50,000 in cash. He was in the middle of his junior [season]. After that, I was at the draft day party with him - which we put together for him,’’ Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports.

Wilfork is now represented by Kennard McGuire of MS World LLC.

Shapiro was a central figure in the 11-month investigation by Yahoo! Sports into the allegations as he shared stories that implicated members of the football and basketball programs. He is serving a 20-year federal prison sentence for his part in a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

Wilfork declined to comment. Wilfork, who is in his eighth NFL season, is the only member of the Patriots listed in the report. Other notable players who reportedly accepted money and gifts include Devin Hester, Frank Gore, Kellen Winslow Jr., Jonathan Vilma, and Willis McGahee.

Shapiro revealed his laundry list of NCAA violations that included providing the players with money, lodging, food, and other gifts.

The report not only included quotes from Shapiro about his relationship with Wilfork, it also included seven photos from Wilfork’s college days with Shapiro and at one of Shapiro’s events. In cellphone records obtained by Yahoo! Sports, there were 190 calls or text messages from October 2009 to April 2010 between Shapiro and a number belonging to Wilfork.

The NCAA declined to comment and the University of Miami said it is cooperating with the NCAA.

“When Shapiro made his allegations nearly a year ago, he and his attorneys refused to provide any facts to the university,’’ Miami AD for communications Chris Freet told Yahoo! Sports. “We notified the NCAA enforcement officials of these allegations. We are fully cooperating with the NCAA and are conducting a joint investigation. We take these matters very seriously.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.