With the announcement of minimal sanctions by the National Collegiate Athletic Association on Tuesday, the Nevin Shapiro saga has come to an end. May the name never be uttered again. The dark three-year period in the history of the University of Miami has drawn to a successful conclusion. The convicted Ponzi-schemer can hurt the University no more. His calls to the NCAA from behind prison walls are over. It can be said that his 15 minutes of fame have expired.
It was decision day in Coral Gables and the NCAA levied insignificant penalties against the University of Miami and its former coaches, the most serious being the fact that Miami football will lose a total of nine scholarships over the next three years.
That is it. There is no additional bowl ban. There is no loss of ability to play on national television.
This season will not be interrupted by Mark Emmert or any of his cronies from Indianapolis. The successful resolution stems from the fact that Miami issued its own self-imposed bowl ban the past two seasons and also waived its right to participate in the ACC Championship Game last season. Miami also cut back on the number of scholarships that it could have awarded last February.
The NCAA stated in its press conference that due to the harsh sanctions that Miami self-imposed, additional penalties were not considered.
UM President Donna Shalala will accept the penalties as announced and not appeal the scholarship losses. UM would have 15 days to file an appeal.
"The University accepts the findings and the additional penalties as detailed in the Committee on Infractions report and will not appeal," Shalala said in a statement released by the University. "The University is grateful to the Committee for a fair and thorough hearing."
Shalala has played every card to perfection since the investigation started. She was cunning and forceful. She was very presidential in her deliberate actions against the NCAA and defended the University well. Miami had the perfect leadership in place. This could have been the perfect storm and Miami could have faced the dreaded death penalty. Instead, Miami got a new lease on life and the state of its athletic program could not be better today.
"The Committee on Infractions report closes a challenging chapter in the history of the University of Miami," Shalala said. "I am grateful to our coaches, staff, and student-athletes for their dedication to the University and to intercollegiate athletics."
For head football coach Al Golden, this is the day that he has been waiting for. The black cloud that loomed over the program since his first game has finally gone away and has been replaced by sunshine. He can now run the program with nothing but green grass in front of him. All of the obstacles brought on by this investigation have been taken away.
Coach Golden made several comments in a statement released through the athletic department.
"I want to sincerely thank our student-athletes and their families, who not only stood with the University of Miami during this unprecedented challenge, but subsequently volunteered for the mission," Golden said. "They shouldered the burden, exhibited class and exemplified perseverance for Hurricanes everywhere."
Golden can now welcome the very finest of recruits that the country has to offer and continue to build this program successfully. No longer can opposing schools tell recruits to cross UM off of their lists because of pending sanctions. Rivals.com rates Miami's current 2014 class as the fifth best in the country. It will only get better. Those that were on the fence having nothing holding them back now. The fact that Miami is 7-0 and ranked seventh in the opening BCS poll does not hurt either.
All told, it was a pretty good day at the office for the seventh-ranked football Hurricanes. It was a good day for Coach Jim Larranaga and his hoops team as they get to keep the ACC Championship that it won on the hard court in March. The NCAA could have stripped the basketball team of its title. Instead, it is expected that the basketball program will lose one scholarship per year for three years. The reigning ACC champs begin play next month.
Former basketball coach Frank Haith did not make it out unscathed. He has been suspended for the first five games of the season. The Missouri head coach has been under the gun since the investigation broke. Former assistant coach Jorge Fernandez will receive a two-year show cause order through October 21, 2015. Jake Morton's status has not been addressed.
Former football assistants Aubrey Hill and Clint Hurtt will also receive two-year show cause orders. Hill is coaching high school football in Miami-Dade County for Carol City High School. Hurtt is on the staff at the University of Louisville where they will not allow him to recruit until the spring at the earliest.
In the same release, Director of Athletics, Blake James said, "Our honest and committed efforts to address these allegations have made us stronger. We have already taken many proactive steps to ameliorate any concerns, and we will continue to improve in all areas. Now it is time to look ahead and work diligently to support our student-athletes."