Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - After nearly five years of
investigations, interviews, reports and hearings, the Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes
were finally handed punishment from the NCAA on Tuesday.
Turns out it wasn't all that bad. If anything, it was of a slap on the
wrist as compared to what many thought might be a crippling blow.
The football program will lose nine scholarships in the next three years, when
it also will serve a probationary period. On top of the football provisions,
the Hurricanes also will be affected on the hardwood. The basketball program
will lose three scholarships and Frank Haith, who was the head coach of Miami's
basketball squad from 2004-11 and is now leading Missouri, will serve a five-
In the official release from the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, the
committee stated there were 18 separate general allegations as well as issues
linked to a booster, presumably Nevin Shapiro, from 2001-08.
The report also read, "The committee acknowledged and accepted the
extensive and significant self-imposed penalties by the university".
Those self-imposed penalties included a bowl ban for the Hurricanes each
of the last two seasons, a fate it will not have to face again.
While the report did not specifically state the committee's decisions were
influenced by Miami's own penalties, it is clear that in some way they were.
After all, Miami did not publicly denounce the investigation, attempt to cover
anything up or continue to go about its business as if it had done nothing
As far as can be told, the Hurricanes were as cooperative as possible
and took steps to ensure it was clear just how seriously they were
taking the allegations.
Was it a savvy move to perhaps earn some sympathy and public relation
points? Perhaps. Was it a preemptive strike by a program hoping to get
out in front of a mess it created? Most definitely.
That doesn't change the fact the Miami investigation was handled in a different
and better manner than those in the past. Better than USC or Penn State or Ohio
Speaking of Penn State, nearly a month ago it was dealt a more favorable
hand pertaining to its own penalties. Suddenly the once iron-clad fist
of the NCAA is beginning to show some fading strength. It's a view that
some have already taken to, including USC athletic director Pat Haden.
"We have always felt that our penalties were too harsh," Haden said via
the USC athletic department's Twitter account. "This decision only
bolsters that view."
Haden may be right about his program's circumstance, but it doesn't
change what the ruling against Miami may be showing.
The NCAA is finally coming to the understanding that punishing current
and future players for the actions of past coaches, administrators and,
in Miami's case, boosters is not the way to handle these situations.
That is not to say the NCAA has found the right level of punishment. Illegal
recruiting strategies and flat out cheating can not be tolerated to the
ridiculous level that has become the norm in major college athletics. There are
still programs around the country utilizing similar practices that got Miami,
USC and Ohio State pinched. Anyone who thinks this matter was cleaned up
entirely, or that these punishments will be the precedent going forward, is
However, the fact remains, Shapiro and other boosters lured players to Miami
with money and extravagance, and past coaches and administrators ignored the
wrongdoing that was rampant at Miami. However, no player on the roster today
fell into that trap just like none of the names listed on the Penn State roster
had anything to do with the monstrous actions of a few terrible men years ago.
The same goes for the coaches of each program. Al Golden came to Miami
after resurrecting a once-dead program at Temple. Golden spurned
interest from some other programs during his five years in Philadelphia
before finally taking on the job at Miami.
Then what greeted him? Bowl bans and shaky recruiting positioning.
That didn't make a difference for Golden, just as it didn't for Bill
O'Brien at Penn State. Each of Golden's first two seasons would have
ended in bowl trips for the Hurricanes if not for their self-imposed
bans. This year, even with the NCAA investigation hanging over their
heads all offseason and during the first half of the campaign, the
Hurricanes have sprinted out to a 6-0 mark and their highest AP ranking
"I just think it's a situation that's out of our hands, and let's
control the things that we can control," Golden said prior to this
season's first game against FAU.
Going forward, Golden can take full control of this program. Losing nine
scholarships will hurt, but for a program that would normally get the NCAA
limit of 85, it won't be a crushing blow. Especially considering Golden has
transformed Miami back into a team that will compete for ACC titles year in and
year out once again. In other words, "The U" is, for the most part, back.
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