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NCAA Sanctions: Punishment Was Much More Than What Meets The Eye

Many of my colleagues and I wrote that the University of Miami escaped without a bowl ban. This is not entirely true. When evaluating the UM sanctions from the NCAA it must be understood that the Hurricanes did suffer a two-year bowl restriction, but it was taken retroactively and not prospectively. Had Miami not self-imposed the two-year bowl ban and elected to forego the ACC title game in 2012, chances are pretty good that it would have been facing a situation similar to what USC faced in their sanctions report. The NCAA would have penalized UM a lot more than what they did.


Many detractors from around the country have a perception that Miami came out of this NCAA mess unscathed. Tell that to the UM recruiters that sat in living rooms around the country and had to defend itself against the myriad of statements that Miami not be able to play football in the not-too-distant future.  Tell that to the UM athletes that had to worry about whether or not they would be forced with having to transfer to another institution like the kids at Penn State.

It has been reported, correctly, that at the end of the day yesterday Miami will only lose nine scholarships from the football side and three from the basketball side.  However, in reality, Miami lost much more than that, but chose to do so voluntarily.  Miami cut back and trimmed the fat when they had the chance and before someone told them that they had to.

The dust is beginning to finally settle, but Miami chose to take its lumps and its punishment on the front end rather than the back end.  The UM punished itself in a manner greater than that in which the NCAA ultimately punished them, but had Miami not reacted the way it did, the NCAA would have lowered the boom themselves.

The major sports networks are reporting that Miami got away with murder.  When they wanted Miami to finally get the Death Penalty, it looked as though the UM skated through Central Park.  In fact, USC athletic director Pat Haden has not stopped crying long enough to realize that had his institution taken the high road that Miami did during the investigation phase and had leadership such as Miami has in its President, Donna Shalala, they might have contended for a national title last season.

The Hurricanes endured a self-imposed bowl ban for two consecutive seasons.  They also abstained from participating in the ACC Championship Game in 2012.  Those two seasons were punishment taken early.  Had Miami not taken the selfie route, they would have gotten it on the back end from the NCAA similar to that of the University of Southern California.

Other schools, like USC, got banged because they wanted to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor until the NCAA came in and took those fruits away.  Miami elected to starve itself so that when the NCAA came in with sanctions, there was nothing else left to take.  Miami took its fruits and let them spoil knowing full well that they would have another chance at success and a greater shot at freedom.

Therefore, net-net, it was a two year bowl ban. Miami just did it on their own time and at a time when they missed out on going to the Champs Sports Bowl as opposed to a potential BCS Bowl.  Instead of going to the ACC title game and playing FSU without a prayer to win, they will have a chance to go this season and actually win the thing. Miami lost needed bowl revenue and over 30 additional practices in which it could have used the time to evaluate players for the following season.  That was a significant loss.

President Shalala took a gamble and it paid off in spades.  She applied the old adage of "pay me now or pay me later" and it worked out to a tee.  Shalala took what the UM program had earned presently and used it to gamble on the future.  I want to play Shalala's lottery numbers as she came out of this as the biggest winner of them all.  She foresaw the future and went for the big stakes and the bigger prizes.  She did not want to risk Duke Johnson's ability to play in a bowl game when the team was good on the lower tier bowl game that comes with a 6-6 season.

Miami is using house money now when it sits at the table.  They are playing with monies allocated for a rainy day. However you slice it,  the bowl-eligible and seventh-ranked Hurricanes are going to be major players this post-season and they are going to have a heck of a recruiting class.  If not for Shalala's insight and ability to think through the bottom line, a different tune could be heard bellowing in the halls of the Schwartz Athletic Center today.