Miami Slides By Ncaa's Probing To Face Lenient Sanctions

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If you are a fan, student, or simply a follower of University of Miami sports teams over the past years, today is a day that brings closure and surprise. As many college sports fans know, the University of Miami has been under investigation by the NCAA since 2009 because of violations that have occurred over the past decade.

 

These violations include but are not limited to:

 

·         Booster Nevin Shapiro funding, according to the NCAA, approximately $500,000 to the University of Miami’s athletic program, specifically the football and basketball programs

·         Shapiro giving millions of dollars in benefits including but not limited to “cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and, on one occasion, an abortion” to approximately 72 players between the years 2002-2010

·         Shapiro collaborating with partner Michael Huyghue to create his sport agency, Axcess Sports & Entertainment, to recruit several Miami football players including Vince Wilfork, Jon Beason, Andrew Williams, and dozens of others

·         Shapiro breaking 4 NCAA bylaws including “impermissible compensation to coaches,” “amateurism of athletes,” “improper recruiting activity,” and “extra benefits to athletes,” the latter three being discussed above

·         Coaches Clint Hurt, Jeff Stoutland, and Aubrey Hill on the football staff, coaches Frank Haith, Jake Morton, and Jorge Fernandez of the basketball staff, and other coaches or managers such as Joe Pananunzio, Sean Allen, Ralph Nogueras, and Joey Corey knowing of and sometimes participating in Shapiro’s actions and did not report him, violating NCAA ethical conduct rules

·         Lack of institutional control in the University of Miami’s athletic programs including rules education and monitoring

 

If one were to look at these violations and decide what the proper punishment would be for the University of Miami, many would answer, without hesitation, the “death penalty.” This would result in the University of Miami football team to be temporarily terminated for at least one year. But, many fortunate things happened both voluntarily and involuntarily for the University of Miami during their investigation from the NCAA. During the period of November 2009 and January 2013, the University of Miami initiated the investigation because of obvious violations. In these first two years of the investigation, the University submitted documentation of its violations to and had more than 70 interviews with the NCAA. Also, with respect to the NCAA, the University self-imposed penalties including the 2011 and 2012 post-season bowl bans.

 

When everything seemed like it was going smoothly and ethically and the University of Miami was coming clean and succumbing itself to punishment, the institution that is supposed to represent the ethical standard in college sports violated protocol. On January, 10, 2013, the NCAA revealed that its staff worked with Shapiro’s criminal defense attorney during Shapiro’s bankruptcy proceeding to gain more information on his relationship with the University of Miami. After hearing this, University of Miami president Donna Shalala disappointedly and angrily released a response describing how it is unfair that this incident should happen especially after she self-imposed punishments on the football program to please the NCAA.

So, with the cooperation of the University of Miami through the 3-year long NCAA investigation of its athletic programs and the NCAA’s internal incident with Shapiro’s attorney, the University’s athletic programs only face the following sanctions, as provided by the NCAA:

 

Public reprimand and censure. Three years of probation from October 22, 2013, through October 21, 2016.

 

Former assistant football coach B (as identified in the public report) penalties:

A two-year show-cause order from October 22, 2013 through October 21, 2015. The public report contains further details. The committee also adopted penalties imposed by the coach’s current employing university, which are detailed in the public report.

 

Former assistant football coach C (as identified in the public report) penalties:

A two-year show-cause order from October 22, 2013, through October 21, 2015. The public report contains further details.

 

Former head men’s basketball coach penalties:

A suspension for the first five regular-season games of the 2013-14 season. Attendance at one NCAA Regional Rules seminar at the conclusion of the 2013-14 academic year.

 

Former assistant men’s basketball coach B (as identified in the public report) penalties:

A two-year show-cause order from October 22, 2013, through October 21, 2015. The public report contains further details.

 

Football program penalties

Reduction of football scholarship by a combined total of nine during the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. Miami may only provide a prospect on unofficial visits complementary tickets for one home game during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Self-imposed by the university: Two year bowl ban following the 2011 and 2012 seasons, including the 2012 ACC Championship game. Reduction of official paid visits for 2012-13 by 20 percent to a total of 36 visits. Reduction of fall evaluations in 2012-13 by six (from 42 to 36). Reduction of available contact days during the 2012-13 contact period by 20 percent.

 

Men’s basketball program penalties

Reduction in the number of men’s basketball scholarships by one during the each of the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

 

Additional penalties

For all sports, any staff member who sends an impermissible text to a prospect will be fined a minimum of $100 per message, and coaches will be suspended from all recruiting activities for seven days. Further penalties resulting from impermissible texts and phone calls are detailed in the public report.

For the number of severe violations over the past decade, the final sanctions are a huge relief to all students and fans of the University of Miami football team. Although it may seem surreal, these are the final punishments, and the investigation is finally over.

 

So what is next for the Hurricanes? For over 2 years, a giant cloud has hovered over Al Golden and the entire University of Miami program. With the saga finally ending today, that cloud has disappeared and there is one word that can describe the future for this program: bright. Coach Golden has had to answer questions about the investigation and a great deal of his recruiting time has been dedicated to discussing the upcoming sanctions that his team might face. Rumors of the dreaded “Death Penalty” had been swirling and there was a consistent sense of uncertainty as to what the NCAA was going to do with the Canes. There are no more guessing games for Golden’s recruits anymore. With no bowl ban and only a relatively small amount of scholarships lost, Coach Golden can start talking about football, and football alone. The Hurricanes will see an immediate impact with regards to their recruiting efforts. Despite all the uncertainty the program has faced, Coach Golden still managed to bring in Top 15 recruiting classes in the past two years. According to ESPN.com’s class rankings (ESPN recruiting), the Hurricanes had the number 8 class in 2012, the number 15 class in 2013, and currently have the 4th best recruiting class for 2014. With all the allegations and rumored sanctions facing his program, Al Golden has been incredibly successful in his recruiting efforts and in his ability to ease recruits minds about the investigation. The Hurricanes already have the 4th best class for the upcoming year and the NCAA’s announcement this morning will only strengthen this. If Golden has had so much success with the investigation hampering him, imagine what he can do without it.

 

The University of Miami is one of the most successful football programs in history, with 5 national titles and an incredible track record of sending players to the NFL. Combine this with the astonishing talent that exists in the South Miami area, just minutes from Golden and his recruiting team, and the Miami Hurricanes have the perfect recipe for a successful future. In recent times, Florida State and the University of Florida have come into the South Miami area and snatched talented players right from the Hurricanes. A great deal of this success at other universities can be attributed to the Nevin Shapiro scandal at UM as these schools had an automatic advantage over the University of Miami. Many recruits viewed the scandal as a very serious issue and a great deal of the Hurricanes’ recruits turned to a different school because of their fears. With the scandal essentially behind them, the Hurricanes will begin to take control of the South Miami area again. During the late 20th century, the area was a gold mine for Miami’s coaches as figures like Howard Schnellenberger, longtime coach of the Canes, established a history of recruiting from the region. For local Miami kids, playing for the Hurricanes was perceived as an honor as they were growing up and when it came time for the highly touted athletes from the local area to commit to a college, a great deal of them chose to stay home and play for their hometown school. It was a proud tradition for athletes from the Miami area to play for the Hurricanes and without the recruitment of hometown kids, the University of Miami would have never blossomed into the historic program it is known as today.

 

In order to continue to try to restore the program’s prowess and for Miami to become a national title contender again, Al Golden needs to recruit high school players from the South Miami area and expand from there. Finding players like current star Randy “Duke” Johnson, who grew up in Miami Gardens, FL, from the Miami area will be critical for Coach Golden’s success as a recruiter. These players were instrumental in creating the successful program in the first place and will be an integral part of building “The U” back up. If Coach Golden can continue to build a foundation around homegrown talent and hold off competition from the other prestigious programs in the state of Florida, the Canes will find themselves with top level recruiting classes every year and will hopefully have that success translate to the field.

 

Another aspect of this announcement from the NCAA is the impact on the current players. With the team undefeated and ranked #7 in the first BCS standings of the 2013-2014 season, it does not seem that the players have been fazed by the investigation. However, any and all stress regarding a potential bowl ban for this season and the future has been relieved and the players only have to worry about their play on the field. Players will no longer have to answer the media’s questions regarding the scandal and can focus on the season. This provides the athletes with a huge mental boost and this will be incredibly important with significant conference games on the horizon.

 

Ultimately, the Miami Hurricanes and the University of Miami as a whole won a long, exhausting battle. The loss of 3 scholarships a year for 3 years will do very little to hinder Coach Golden’s recruiting efforts and with no further bowl bans, the Hurricanes are in great shape for this season and beyond. As Heather Dinich of espn.com says, “For the first time in Golden’s tenure, the Canes can shake the shadow of the NCAA. They can focus on Saturday’s game against Wake Forest without wondering whether they'll even be allowed to play in the title game should they get that far” (ESPN article). The Hurricanes can go into Saturday’s game with a completely clear head and absolute certainty about the future of the program. After all the allegations, rumors, and speculation, finally, the U has peace at mind and can now focus on rebuilding one of the greatest programs in college football history.

 

 

Locations

Sources

Yahoo! Sports http://sports.yahoo.com

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