When Yahoo first broke its Nevin Shapiro story, one of the immediate concerns for anyone with a stake in Miami football was how many current players were implicated in the scandal, and who exactly those players were. The answer was 12, but as we learned yesterday, not all of the cases were equal. Maybe the most severe allegations were made against senior wide receiver Aldarius Johnson, who Shapiro claimed had to be cut off because Johnson was so frequently asking for money. Yet, Johnson was not suspended by the NCAA. Instead, he was suspended indefinitely by the school itself. Manny Navarro, in an attempt to shed some more light on the story, spoke with Johnson's mother, Shantera Walker-Johnson:
"What UM told me when I called is that they're waiting on the NCAA to clear him," said Walker-Johnson, who says she's hired an attorney to help get her son reinstated. "I don't see his name anywhere on the NCAA website about the case. I figure if they had the other players names up there, and what UM was telling me was true, it would say Aldarius Johnson's case is still pending. And it doesn't."
Yes, Johnson's mother has hired an attorney. This should end well, and by well, I mean horribly. It will end horribly.
Navarro goes on to note that according to Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson, Johnson was "less than forthright" with the NCAA in two separate interviews with investigators. This claim was echoed yesterday by Steve Gorten who also confirmed with an unnamed source that Johnson was "less than forthright" with the NCAA. UM, for its credit, is maintaining that Johnson was suspended for an incident that happened this weekend, and not because of something that happened while being investigated by the NCAA. There is some evidence to support their case, and yet the story is still very curious and confusing.
The school has yet to identify exactly why Johnson was suspended, beyond the forever vague "violation of team rules," but Navarro potentially fills us in:
Walker-Johnson said her son told her he recently got in trouble for breaking "Team rule No. 10," a Twitter-related rule in place by Golden. On Saturday, during Canesfest, an autograph event involving players and fans at the BankUnited Center, Johnson sent out a tweet on his account (adjohnson04) asking his followers what the best strip club in Miami was. It has since been erased.
I didn't see the tweet, but if this account is actually true, and Johnson was poking fun at the Miami scandal, then a suspension would be warranted. USC recently suspended running back Marc Tyler for also making light of his school's predicament. But the story, unsurprisingly, doesn't end there. Walker-Johnson continues:
"They said it was tweeted by Aldarius, but at the time Twitter came through, he was signing autographs, taking senior pictures at Canesfest," Walker-Johnson said. "And are they really suspending him because of that? He can't practice or do nothing with the team because of that. He's got to sit in study hall and watch as his teammates practice. That's not a reason to suspend him. To me, it has nothing to do with it. What they keep telling me is he can't participate is because his case is pending. To me, they just want to make an example of him."
First, she makes some vague allusion to the possibility that Johnson did not send the tweet himself, but as history tells us, this is almost certainly bullshit. More importantly, she, either willingly or not, refutes on the record UM's claim that Johnson was suspended because of the tweet. According to her, the school says that Johnson's case with the NCAA is still "pending." And the facts, from my perspective, would seem to back up something similar to that theory. Shapiro claimed to have provided Johnson with over $5,000 in illegal benefits ranging from dinners to entertainment at strip clubs, as well as having given Johnson between $50 and $400 cash on at least ten occasions. If those allegations are true, then Johnson would theoretically be in line for the harshest penalty amongst current UM football players.
At the very least, it seems extremely unlikely that Johnson was cleared by the NCAA of the allegations, or that he in fact received only $100 or less in illegal benefits. So what is happening here? It's possible that Johnson's case is so much more extensive than the others that it is indeed still pending, in which case it's highly unlikely that Johnson will ever play another down for UM. Or, as Robinson and Gorten have claimed, Johnson lied to the NCAA, and for some reason they have yet to officially suspend him. Or maybe Johnson lied to UM as well, and the school informed the NCAA prior to its decisions regarding the other players that it was going to independently suspend him indefinitely. Or yeah, maybe he did send out an ill-advised tweet about a strip club.
Either way, one thing is clear: Aldarius Johnson did something very stupid, and no lawyer is going to be able to change that.