As opener approaches, Miami still awaits NCAA verdict
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — 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.”