The NCAA Goes Easy On Miami To Finally Put An End To Long Investigation

The Hurricanes have now been cited for lack of institutional control and will lose a few scholarships, but will face no further bowl bans.

Joel Auerbach / Getty Images

The University of Miami has avoided another round of significant penalties from the NCAA, including a ban from postseason competition, because of the school’s “unprecedented” self-imposed sanctions.

In a 102-page report released this morning, the NCAA ruled that Miami lacked institutional control in its monitoring of former booster Nevin Shapiro and cited the school’s athletics department for nearly a decade of violations in its football and men’s basketball programs. As a result, Miami will lose three scholarships annually over the next three years and the athletic department will be on three years’ probation.

Those modest penalties from the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions come on the heels of Miami’s self-imposed penalties, which included a bowl-game ban for the past two years. Last year, the ban denied Miami its first division title, a chance to play in the ACC championship game, and possibly a coveted berth in the Bowl Championship Series.

Today’s announcement means the Hurricanes, who are currently 6-0 and ranked No. 7 in the latest BCS rankings, are going to remain eligible to participate in the upcoming postseason.

“To impose these bowl bans is a big deal. A very big deal,” said Britton Banowsky, chair of the Committee on Infractions and commissioner of Conference USA. “Those are big decisions made by the university and the committee appreciated those decisions and were reflected in our report.”

Other penalties in the report: the Hurricanes’ basketball program will lose three scholarships; former men’s basketball coach Frank Haith, who is the head coach at Missouri, will be suspended for five games this year; and former assistant coaches Jorge Fernandez (basketball) and Aubrey Hill (football) will receive two-year show-cause penalties, meaning they are effectively unemployable by other NCAA member institutions over that time.

The announcement of the penalties effectively brings a close to the NCAA’s investigation into Miami, which drew criticism for its length — nearly three-and-a-half years — and revelations that the NCAA’s enforcement staff had improperly obtained information for its case from an attorney who represented Shapiro. The investigation started in November 2009 when Miami self-reported impermissible telephone calls and texts which which eventually led to to allegations that Shapiro paid for entertainment, food, and various gifts for a number of Miami athletes and recruits. Shapiro was also accused of having “personal and financial dealings” with members of the coaching staff and providing said coaches with gifts and loans.

Shapiro is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

Overall, the NCAA looked into “18 allegations with 79 subparts that primarily involved widespread and significant recruiting inducements and extra benefits.” It was the scope of the case, Banowsky said, that made the investigation last so long. “There were lot of complexities to it and the sheer volume of case was enormous,” he said during a teleconference this morning.

Miami officials made no immediate comment, and football coach Al Golden’s weekly game-week press conference was cancelled earlier today.

This could portend the start of a new normal for the NCAA, which last month reduced penalties against Penn State by restoring scholarships to its football program faster than planned. The NCAA had never reduced its own penalties before.

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