Golden is not pleased with you, Charles. Not pleased at all.
Charles Robinson has struck again...sort of. A report released by him over at Yahoo! Sports details impermissible contact with recruits from both the 2011 and 2012 class. This contact was between Sean "Pee Wee" Allen (right hand man to Shapiro) and several recruits. Allen was kept on Miami's books until August of last year, when he was named in a bigger way in the Shapiro scandal. This report also involves a few secondary coaches and Golden himself.
So what does it all mean?
Ok, let's break down the basics here, and then look at it from a best/worst case scenario. To begin with, Robinson is the same guy who dropped the Shapiro bomb last year, and his work is pretty in depth. However, he has whiffed on a couple of things from the original report. Remember DeQuan Jones supposedly receiving $10,000 from Shapiro? Never happened. He was reinstated to the team shortly after a former Miami aid testified. Remember all of those completely egregious violations committed years ago? A large part of them cant be corroborated, or were testified as untrue. This latest report, however, does seem to be a bit more direct. Allen, as part of his testimony last year in Shapiro's bankruptcy case, surrendered phone records that showed him calling recruits from December 17th, 2010 up until July of last year, a month before he was removed as a University employee. Outside of the phone records themselves, Robinson is relying on a former Hurricane staffer as well as a handful of sources at other schools (hmmm....) that are saying not only did Allen communicate with this kids, but provided benefits for them as well. Former Miami (and current Florida Gator) wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill and current Miami LB coach Michael Barrow are the two coaches named as being directly involved with Allen.
As far as the recruits and the possible violations go, the biggest names (and the only names that ended up committing to Miami) are Anthony Chickillo, Duke Johnson, Thomas Finnie, and Herb Waters. Other kids that committed elsewhere are Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville), Amari Cooper (Alabama), James Burgess (Louisville), and Eli Rogers (Louisville...sense a bit of a trend?), and Devonta Freeman (FSU)
Out of all of these recruits, the most egregious violation would be with Chickillo, who was given admittance into a local club, and had some drinks paid for. Other than that, we are dealing with phone calls, car rides home from camps/practice, and a meeting at a restaurant during an unofficial visit. The reason that these are all possible violations is twofold. For one, Allen had previously admitted to providing benefits to recruits in the original Shapiro scandal, which means he is counted as a booster by the NCAA. The second is that even though he was employed by Miami as an equipment manager, he was not listed/counted as an assistant coach. Had he not already been considered a booster, his status as equipment manager coupled with his latest contact would have been illegal on its own.
As far as who all was involved, Golden himself is mentioned a few times, but it's based on the word of a former staffer. Golden is listed as being at the restaurant that Bridgewater was brought to along with a group of other coaches. He was also aware that Allen was giving Bridgewater a ride home from the restaurant, which is a violation. He is also mentioned as being in a meeting room with other coaches when Allen picked up and brought A.J. Legget to them to speak about his recruitment. Outside of these mentions, Golden is not said to have had any direct contact with Allen or recruits. The combination of Barrow and Hill did most of the "work", directing Allen as to what he should do, and showing up in the phone records as contacting the recruits and Allen.
Ok, so now that we have the basics, let's, look at the best case scenario first. To begin with, this is something that we here at T7F have heard whispers about for a few months. The NCAA was aware of possible violations by Golden's staff, but were under the impression that they were of a minor nature, and certainly not to the level of anything from the Shapiro era. Frankly, we are dealing with car rides, phone calls, and a party where some drinks were bought. By themselves, they are nothing but a slap on the wrist, given the fact that other schools have received a stern talking to from the NCAA for the same sorts of things. However, given the ongoing Shapiro investigation, its certainly possible that these may be given a bit more weight. What is clear from the report is that at the very least, Barrow should lose his job ASAP. Golden most likely will not be fired or punished, because while these are being grouped together with the Shapiro investigation, Golden was not a part of that at all, and therefore the NCAA would only be able to apply these violations to him. Aubrey Hill is already gone, and was gone three weeks after Golden was hired. Whether he will be given any sort of punishment is up in the air, but if I were Florida, I would be paying attention to the situation. So, all things considered, the best case scenario (and honestly something close to this may end up being the actual result) is that Barrow is fired, Chickillo sits a game or two and pays back whatever the drink total was, and that is the end of it as far as this report is concerned. When it comes to the recruits who ended up at other schools, if the NCAA's track record is taken into consideration, they will be given the chance to tell their story in exchange for forgiveness, so they likely are in the clear.
Now, the worst case scenario. In our worst nightmare, the school goes all out and removes Golden, Barrow, and suspends any recruit named in the report. The recent violations are added in with the Shapiro report, and they contribute to the NCAA laying down the dreaded "death penalty", or something close to it.
Come on though, let's be real here...Golden, fresh off a long extension, is not going to be fired for minor violations, especially when his role in said violations is minimal at best, and no one will be able to systematically prove he knew everything Allen was doing. Based on the report, it seems that Hill, Barrow, and Allen were involved in a dirty little violation triangle, and Golden was only involved as an outsider. As far as the recruits are concerned, Chickillo will probably be given some sort of suspension, I would guess at least a game, and I find it hard to think he would get more than 3, given that he didn't accept any money like last years suspended athletes did. The other guys won't be disciplined for phone calls and car rides, because why? When it comes to the eventual punishment by the NCAA, I don't think that this report adds as much as the talking heads (looking directly into your coke bottle glasses, Lou Holtsth) will say it should. Word has it they were made aware of these a while ago, and have been looking into them since then. They recently visited the university, which would make sense since they likely looked over the phone records months ago, and set up interviews with those involved in Coral Gables. It's widely believed that due to a large part of the previous scandal being unverifiable, coupled with the testimony that directly refuted some of the more major violations, and the self-imposed player suspensions and bowl ban from last year, Miami was not going to be in line for a major notice of allegations anyway. It's hard to think that a list of minor violations would propel the investigation into SMU territory, and likely wont.
SO. Calm down a bit, let everything play out, and it will all be fine. When i say fine in that sentence, i mean it in the sense that the NCAA will does what the NCAA do, and there isn't a whole lot any of us can do until that notice arrives on campus. Until then, don't panic, Charles Robinson just wanted to ruin your weekend.
Al Golden has released a statement regarding the Yahoo report, quoted below, and available in full context here.
"I have been a college football coach for more than 18 years and I am proud of--and I stand by--my record of compliance over that span,." Golden said. "As my colleagues and players on all of my teams can attest, I believe strongly in doing things the right way with the best of intentions. The inferences and suggestions in the Yahoo! Sports story that my conduct was anything but ethical are simply false. I, like all of us at UM, have cooperated fully with the joint NCAA-UM inquiry and will continue to do so, so that our program and our University can move forward.
"Because the process is on-going, I am unable to address any specifics or answer questions on the matter."