CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The “rain and storm” that have pelted the University of Miami football program in recent weeks, in the words of new coach Al Golden, intensified Tuesday when the NCAA informed the Hurricanes that eight players who received nearly $4,000 in benefits from a jailed booster would have to sit out a combined 19 games, beginning with Monday’s opener against Maryland in College Park.
The NCAA further reported that it had discovered “some of the most serious recruiting violations” within its rules, citing three cases in which athletes received substantial inducements before they enrolled at Miami. That finding might be the most ominous, hinting that the program could face severe sanctions when the NCAA concludes its probe of the program in the coming months.
(DAVID ADAME/AP) - University of Miami quarterback Jacory Harris runs a drill during the team’s first practice earlier this month.
The NCAA ruled Tuesday that eight Miami football players must sit out games and repay benefits in order to play for the Hurricanes again. (Aug. 30)
Among those sidelined for the nationally televised Atlantic Coast Conference matchup: last year’s starting quarterbackJacory Harris (one game); star linebacker Sean Spence (one game);defensive lineman Olivier Vernon (six games) and defensive tackle Marcus Forsten (one game).
“Our members have continually stressed that involvement of third parties during recruitment will not be tolerated, and there must be accountability for inappropriate behavior,” said Kevin Lennon, the NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, in a release.
The NCAA’s decision on the players’ eligibility came two weeks after a convicted Ponzi schemer claimed in a Yahoo Sports report that he lavished money, prostitutes and alcohol on current and former student-athletes. Even amid the relentless drip of scandals in collegiate athletics in the last year, the charges levied by Nevin Shapiro managed to shock and resonate given their salacious nature and stunning breadth — Yahoo Sports claimed 72 current and former Hurricanes accepted improper benefits and that many coaches and assistants knew what was going on.
“To be honest, my wife has been walking around the house in a daze over it,” said Don Bailey, Jr., a former Hurricanes player who has been the color analyst on local broadcasts for nearly 20 years. “It’s been very deflating to a lot of folks. You can’t go anywhere without people wondering what’s going to happen. The good news is, I’m glad to see that this many people care.”
The scandal has shaken the entire school, a private research university with an enrollment of 15,000 that sits on the edge of one of Miami’s most upscale communities. Miami Coach Al Golden, hired last winter out of Temple after the firing of Randy Shannon, thought he was inheriting a program primed to return to the Hurricanes’ winning ways in decades previous. Instead, Golden got an uncertain roster and uncertain future.
He said during an early afternoon news conference Tuesday he personally called Maryland Coach Randy Edsall to explain that he couldn’t reveal his traveling squad because the NCAA had not yet ruled on the players in question. He promised Edsall that Miami wouldn’t play any games or keep any secrets, and would send a roster as soon as the school received a ruling.