WONDER IF football coach Al Golden knew what he was getting into when he left Temple for Miami.

Yesterday, Golden said some Miami players may have accepted favors from longtime booster Nevin Shapiro, who was convicted in June of orchestrating a $900 million Ponzi scheme.


Golden was hired in December to replace Randy Shannon, after coaching the Owls for five seasons.

NCAA officials showed up on campus Monday to investigate Shapiro's claim that he provided improper benefits to players. Shapiro told Yahoo Sports that among the items he bankrolled were cars, jewelry, yacht trips, sex parties and an abortion for a woman impregnated by a player.

"We're not going to let this knock us backward," Golden told reporters yesterday. "We have great kids on this team to the extent that they may have made a mistake. OK, that's fine. But that's also part of growing up. What we have to teach them now is if something did occur, let's be honest and move forward."

Golden said that school administrators, including president Donna Shalala, were meeting with investigators, but that he didn't expect to be involved.

"It's hard for me to stand up here and defend something that occurred 3, 4, 5, 6 years ago," Golden said. "I don't know the extent of it. We're going to look at it. We're disappointed, but we're not discouraged."

The university said it is cooperating with the NCAA and is conducting a joint investigation.

"There's only one way to move here, to be honest," Golden said. "Clearly, we don't need these types of things to be a great team."


Pinball wizard

Upon retiring, a lot of professional athletes find they miss competing.

Former Sixers center Todd MacCulloch has found a way to quench his competitive thirst.


MacCulloch made it to the quarterfinals of last week's World Pinball Championships in Pittsburgh.

"I've always loved pinball," MacCulloch told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Now that I can't compete [in the NBA], pinball has filled that void of camaraderie."