CORAL GABLES, Fla. >> Miami’s football team will lose a total of nine scholarships and the men’s basketball team will lose three, as part of the penalties the school was handed today by the NCAA as the Nevin Shapiro scandal presumably drew to a close.
Both of those scholarship losses will be stretched out over three years. But for the first time since 2010, the football team will be permitted to appear in a postseason game.
“It’s relief that we finally have a decision,” Miami President Donna Shalala told The Associated Press. “It’s been a long haul. But I don’t have any anger or frustration.”
The school will also serve three years of probation. Former men’s basketball coach Frank Haith, now at Missouri, will sit out the first five games of his team’s upcoming season as punishment for his involvement with the former booster, and three former Miami football and basketball assistant coaches were handed two-year show-cause bans.
“This case is among the most extraordinary in the history of the NCAA,” said Britton Banowsky, the Conference USA commissioner who chairs the Committee on Infractions, speaking on a teleconference this morning.
Even though the NCAA said Miami lacked “institutional control” when it came to monitoring Shapiro, the university is accepting the decision and does not plan to appeal. The infractions committee also said that the Hurricanes’ decision to self-impose sanctions was wise, with Banowsky calling them “a big deal.”
“I’m pleased that this case has finally been brought to conclusion and that the University of Miami can now move forward,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. “As I’ve said all along, Miami’s cooperation throughout this process, under the tremendous leadership of President Donna Shalala, should be commended, and I’m glad the NCAA recognized and appreciated the self-imposed efforts that were at such a significant level.”
The NCAA decision will affect all of Miami athletics in one way — in all sports, any Hurricanes staff member who sends an impermissible text to a prospect will be fined a minimum of $100 per message, and coaches involved will be suspended from all recruiting activities for seven days. The NCAA said a probe of Miami actually started in 2009, when the school self-reported impermissible telephone calls and texts.
Shapiro contacted the NCAA from prison in February 2011, the report said, and the probe’s scope grew quickly from there. Shapiro is serving a 20-year prison term for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme.
Miami’s football team is off to a 6-0 start, and the school’s No. 7 ranking matches its highest since 2005. The school met with the infractions committee in June, leaving those two days in Indianapolis hoping a decision would come within eight weeks.
It wound up taking more than 18 weeks, but in the end, was what the school wanted. Miami self-imposed postseason bans in 2011 and 2012, missing two bowl games and last season’s Atlantic Coast Conference title game — along with more than 30 practices and some reductions in recruiting.
“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,” Miami football coach Al Golden said. “They shouldered the burden, exhibited class and exemplified perseverance for Hurricanes everywhere. “
Shapiro alleged that he spent millions between 2002 and 2010 on football and men’s basketball recruits, athletes and coaches. An AP study of the notice of allegations found the NCAA was able to identify about $173,330 in extra benefits — more than half of that, investigators said, going to former Hurricane players Vince Wilfork and Antrel Rolle.
The school has instituted many safeguards against compliance violations since.
“We’re going to move on,” Shalala said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do in the compliance area. We’ve obviously put a lot of new things in place over the last three years. But making sure that we reduce the risk — significantly reduce the risk — of this happening again is an ongoing, continuous improvement strategy.”
The sheer size of the Miami investigation was unlike almost any other, with 18 general allegations of misconduct with 79 issues within those allegations — along with 118 interviews of 81 individuals.
“Our hope … is that all those impacted can now move forward,” Banowsky said.
Some of the NCAA’s would-be accusations were erased early this year, when it was found that investigators improperly cooperated with Shapiro’s attorney and gleaned some of their information wrongly from her. Banowsky insisted that none of that information was considered by the infractions committee.
“It cost us a lot for lawyers and it cost a lot of time,” Shalala said. “It also brought everybody closer together.”