At Miami, there's 1 big question: 'How?'

By TIM REYNOLDS | August 20, 2011 | 11:50 AM EDT

This image from video shows Nevin Shapiro gesturing on the field at an NCAA college football game between Miami and Florida, in Miami, Fla., in Sept. 2003. Shapiro, now serving 20 years in federal prison for his role in a Ponzi scheme, claims he provided Miami players with prostitutes, cars and other gifts over the past decade. The latest scandalous allegations in college football _ this time at the University of Miami _ have renewed talk by the NCAA of the need for "fundamental change" in athletics. (AP Photo/WFOR/CBS4) ONLINE OUT

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Of all the countless questions surrounding the Miami football program and the claims made by convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro, one is more prevalent than any other.

How did this happen?

Simple question, lacking a simple answer.

Some who have been around the program for years remember Shapiro trying unsuccessfully to roam around Miami football practices. A former athletic department employee says he would mysteriously show up where players half his age were hanging out. Others simply say they didn't know what Shapiro looked like until seeing his image on television this week.

Here's what is known: He gave money, lots of it, and Miami's football program may be paying for many years to come.