New year, old issue remains for Miami

It almost seems like a ritual now at Miami. The first game week

of the season arrives, accompanied by questions about an NCAA

investigation.

It happened that way in 2011, shortly after the Nevin Shapiro

scandal broke.

It happened again last year, when more allegations were swirling

around Miami.

And form held Monday, as the Hurricanes started preparing for

Friday’s opener against Florida Atlantic. More than 10 weeks after

the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions heard Miami’s case against the

litany of charges the NCAA presented the school with in February,

the Hurricanes are still waiting to see what sanctions, if any, are

coming their way.

”I hope we have a mature group. I really do,” Miami coach Al

Golden said after practice Monday. ”I hope our guys are focused on

just one thing, and that’s Florida Atlantic and getting better

today. Man, I feel like we did. I feel like we came over here with

a purpose.”

There are no players left on the team with any true link to the

NCAA investigation, which revolves around a former booster who is

now serving a 20-year sentence for running a $930 million Ponzi

scheme. But many have paid a stiff price for misdeeds of others:

Miami hasn’t been to a bowl game in either of the past two seasons

because of the investigation, though school officials are confident

that the postseason will await the Hurricanes in 2013.

The university, and its legal team, have been bracing for the

NCAA to announce the sanctions for several weeks. Why that hasn’t

happened remains anyone’s guess, though with the number of

individuals and attorneys involved in the process, it’s also not

completely surprising that Miami did not get a swift resolution,

either.

”We’ve been going through it for a while,” Miami quarterback

Stephen Morris said. ”Our biggest thing is, we’re always putting

our trust in Coach Golden and President (Donna) Shalala and

everything that they do. We’re not thinking about it. We’re not

worried about it. It is what it is right now.”

Other players simply wanted no part of the NCAA question.

”I don’t focus on that stuff,” defensive lineman Shayon Green

said. ”You have to ask Coach Golden about it.”

And for his part, Golden said he was upset to get the question

when his weekly news conference started Monday, when asked if he’s

now upset about the length of the wait for an answer.

”Not as angry as you starting off this press conference with

that question,” Golden said.

The investigation started quietly in the spring of 2011, after

former booster Nevin Shapiro’s claims that he provided athletes and

recruits with impermissible benefits over an eight-year span got

noticed by the NCAA. The story broke widely in August 2011, when

Shapiro cooperated with Yahoo Sports for a story detailing what he

did.

Golden has never coached a game at Miami without that cloud

lurking overhead.

”In terms of following a master plan, that plan got torn up in

2011, Aug. 14,” Golden said, referencing the date the story broke.

”We’ve been really just fighting since that moment. We’re really

not in any stage of a plan or anything. We’re fighting and we’re

building and we’re going to continue to build. We have great kids

on this team that have bought in.”

Neither the school nor the NCAA has commented about the length

of the process. Other high-profile schools involved with recent

NCAA investigations waited several months for their decisions from

the Committee on Infractions, though Miami came away from its

hearing before that group in June convinced that its word would

come before the season kicked off.

There’s still a few more days where that could happen.

”Everybody in here could say at some point, `What are we doing’

or `What are they doing’ or `What did they do,”’ Golden said.

”That’s how I feel, too. It’s been that kind of two years. So

we’re just fighting.”