Miami has determined that eight football players, including quarterback Jacory Harris, are believed to have committed NCAA violations by associating with booster Nevin Shapiro and have been declared ineligible, said a person with knowledge of the process.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because no one is authorized to discuss the ongoing investigations by the university and the NCAA. Shapiro is a convicted Ponzi scheme architect serving a 20-year prison sentence for bilking $930 million from investors, and his claims have cast a long shadow over Miami’s season before it even begins.
Simply being declared ineligible now doesn’t necessarily mean a player would miss any time this season. The Miami Herald first reported the decision to declare the players ineligible.
Under NCAA rules, when a school finds violations have occurred, the athlete typically is declared ineligible and the NCAA begins a reinstatement process. The NCAA will also decide if that player needs to miss any games. And the clock is running: Miami opens the season at Maryland on Sept. 5.
”The school must declare the student-athlete ineligible and then can seek reinstatement,” NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said.
Earlier Thursday, Miami coach Al Golden suggested that the depth chart might not be announced until Tuesday. All of the players implicated by Shapiro in a story published by Yahoo Sports were practicing Thursday, and have been on the field throughout the process.
”We’ll make sure we practice enough guys because we really don’t know what the future brings,” Golden said. ”Hopefully we’ll find out pretty quickly here in the near future if there are any penalties or suspensions, and we’ll adjust accordingly.”
Golden said he has a plan for which personnel to use against the Terrapins. And another plan, just in case. And, well, another plan, in case things change some more.
”All of the above,” Golden said.
Harris and all other Miami players implicated by claims that Shapiro provided dozens of Hurricanes with extra benefits like cash, cars, gifts and sex for the better part of a decade returned to the practice field Thursday after a brief break for the start of the academic year.
Sean Spence led the Hurricanes in a pre-practice chant that left some onlookers doubled over in laughter. Harris took his spot at the front of a stretching group, a position typically reserved for starters.
Say this for the ‘Canes: They’re trying to carry on some sense of business-as-usual.
”Any projections or anything like that, all it is is speculation,” Golden said.
Golden also said that in what he believes to be accordance with Atlantic Coast Conference policy, the Hurricanes will divulge their depth chart to the Terrapins before releasing anything publicly.
”It’s tough because I know how much hard work they put in over there,” said former Hurricanes receiver Reggie Wayne, now with the Indianapolis Colts. ”I hope everything turns out right for them, but the one thing about it is it will bring everyone closer together.”
Spence and Harris are among two of the biggest names wrapped up in the scandal – Spence is considered by many to be Miami’s best defensive player and one of the top linebackers in the ACC. Harris has played 36 games at quarterback for the Hurricanes in his first three seasons, and he’s far-and-away the ACC leader among active players in passing touchdowns.
University officials haven’t commented publicly on the specifics of the process. Miami President Donna Shalala said this week that 15 student-athletes — she did not specify names or teams — were being investigated by university compliance personnel. Shapiro told Yahoo Sports that he provided benefits to 72 athletes, 65 of whom played football for Miami. Of those, 12 are current football players, and one is a member of the men’s basketball team.
”We’re going about our business,” Golden said. ”Obviously some of the players that are alleged to have done something are guys that have played a lot of football for us, so obviously there’s going to be some adjustments if there are suspensions. Other than that, we’re just moving forward and the kids have been great.”
Defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo, who is expected to get playing time right away — the true freshman is a third-generation Hurricane — said the scandal is not taking away from the excitement of his first collegiate season.
”I’ve waited my whole life to come here,” Chickillo said. ”I’m just happy I’ve got coach Golden as my coach. I’m happy with the team. … It’s everything I ever wanted and everything I ever expected.”
The other football players named by Shapiro to Yahoo Sports are Vaughn Telemaque, Ray Ray Armstrong, Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson, Marcus Forston, Olivier Vernon, Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, Dyron Dye and JoJo Nicholas. Like Harris and Spence, many of those players are presumed starters this season.
Notes: Offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson, recovering from back surgery, is now rehabbing with eyes on returning this season, Golden said. There is no timetable for his return. … Miami is still awaiting word on three players who have yet to be approved by the NCAA clearinghouse, a situation that’s now precarious because classes began Wednesday. The hardship waiver for QB Ryan Williams, a Memphis transfer, also remains unsettled. … The university still has not announced if all players will be available, as customarily is the case, to attend an annual kickoff event with fans scheduled for Saturday.
AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.