Eight Miami football players — Olivier Vernon, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Dyron Dye, Marcus Forston, Sean Spence, Adewale Ojomo, Travis Benjamin and Jacory Harris — will have to miss games and repay benefits they received before becoming eligible again, the NCAA announced Tuesday. None of the eight will play in Monday’s season opener against Maryland at Byrd Stadium.
The announcement comes on the heels of the Yahoo Sports investigation of the Miami athletic department, which found that booster Nevin Shapiro provided benefits to a sizable number of Hurricanes players.
“Of the eight football student-athletes, three received substantial benefits as prospective student-athletes from Shapiro and athletics personnel to entice them to enroll at the university, which are considered some of the most serious recruiting violations within the NCAA,” the organization wrote in a news release.
Vernon, a defensive lineman who started 11 games last season, must miss six games. He had six sacks, which ranked second on the team and 11th in the ACC.
Armstrong, a defensive back who was third on the team in tackles, and Dye, a tight end who appeared in six games, must miss four games. The rest must miss one.
Spence was named the team’s co-MVP after ranking second on the team and fifth in the ACC with 111 tackles at linebacker. Harris started eight games at quarterback in 2010 before being sidelined by a concussion.
Ojomo, a defensive lineman, played in all 13 games, starting four. He had five sacks. Benjamin, a wide receiver, had 43 catches last season and led the team in yards per catch (17.3) and in punt returns and punt return yardage. Forston made 12 starts in 2010 on the defensive line and had 12 tackles for a loss, second most on the team.
The length of the suspensions appear to coincide with the amount of extra benefits each player received. The Yahoo Sports report found that Vernon received more than $1,200 in benefits, for example, while the others received benefits ranging in worth from $788 to $140.