Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork allegedly received $50,000 from University of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, a contention that Shapiro has made from prison.
So did Wilfork get the money? Wilfork isn’t saying.
“I am aware of the report that has claims that involve me while at the U,” Wilfork said Wednesday night on his Twitter page. “While the NCAA and the U conduct their investigations [my wife] and I believe that it is not appropriate for us to comment.”
The larger — and unanswered — question is whether Wilfork will cooperate with the investigations. The fact that college football players can refuse to talk once they’re no longer enrolled in college often makes it very hard for the NCAA to perform its investigative function. Thus, if Wilfork won’t talk not only to his Twitter followers but also to officials from the University of Miami or the NCAA, it will be hard to corroborate Shapiro’s claims.
That’s why the NFL, if it truly wants to help out the curators of pro football’s free farm system, should require NFL players to cooperate with the NCAA.
Under current rules, Wilfork gains nothing by cooperating, and he loses nothing by refusing. If he received $50,000 from Shapiro and never reported it as income, Wilfork could have a problem with the IRS, depending on the relevant statutes of limitations.
That’s why it makes sense for Wilfork not to say anything to anyone — and why it makes sense in cases like this for the NFL to have the power to compel players to participate in the process.