Miami AD would like to have NCAA decision before opener

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Eight weeks to the day since University of Miami officials finished meeting with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, athletic director Blake James said Friday he was hopeful the school would hear a verdict before the football season kicks off.

But he could not guarantee it.

“I don’t ‘expect’ anything,” James said at the Hurricanes’ football media day. “What I hope is we have a decision before the season starts. But I respect the process and whenever the decision comes, we’ll handle it and address it at that point.

“We’d have liked it to be over months ago, but that’s not the reality of the situation. The reality of the situation is things take time and you have to let them play their course.”
 
The Hurricanes are coming off consecutive seasons of self-imposed bowl bans that were announced in hopes of lessening any penalties that could result from an investigation into the program and its ties to booster Nevin Shapiro.

Miami will begin its 2013 season on Aug. 30 against Florida Atlantic University at Sun Life Stadium.

“There’s no one who’s going to be happier to have this process over with than I am,” James said. “I will say I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I’m just not sure how close that light is.

“I anticipate it’s something that’s going to happen in the near future. Beyond that, I wouldn’t want to speculate on what the findings are other than I will say we’ve done everything that we can do as an institution … I think we’ve taken the right and necessary steps to address the vast majority of the issues, many of which we’ve recognized and accepted. And we look forward to moving forward as a program with whatever findings come back.”

James joined university president Donna Shalala, football coach Al Golden, men’s basketball coach Jim Larranaga and ACC commissioner John Swofford in meeting with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions June 14-15 in Indianapolis.

Miami’s interim AD since Oct. 2012, James was given the permanent job in February. He said the NCAA cloud has been one of two big challenges since he assumed the position.

“One of the big challenges is we’re dealing with a major NCAA issue, and the reality is that has had an unknown out there,” James said. “We just have to recognize, as part of our daily operations, that it’s not operating as normal.

“I think the other challenge is trying to really get us to a level of funding and doing things the right way as a program. I think a lot of times, because of so many great things we have here … I think sometimes we haven’t put all the pieces in place.”

James expressed disappointment that the Miami Dolphins’ efforts to upgrade Sun Life Stadium died in the Florida legislature. He said improvements to the stadium — where UM has 20 years remaining on a 25-year lease — would have been a “tremendous boost” for the ‘Canes and their fans, many of whom refuse to let go of Orange Bowl memories.

“The improvements would have created an atmosphere, I think, that is never going to replace the Orange Bowl, but it would have moved our fans closer and given them a little more of that feel,” he said.

James shot down notions of UM considering other long-term options for a home field.

“Other than Sun Life Stadium, there isn’t anything out there that I know of,” James said. “If anyone is aware of a 45,000-75,000 seat stadium that they think we could play in that’s within a 20-mile radius (of the school), I’d be interested in talking to them.”

Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas