Imagine you go to the doctor one day because your leg hurts. The doctor thinks your leg may be broken so he decides to take an X-Ray to see if there’s any further damage. You expect your results in a quick and timely manner but instead the doctor makes you wait month after month for your results. In the meantime, you spend the next two and a half years walking around, limping in pain, unsure if your leg is going to get any worse.
That may sound a bit extreme but that’s basically been the status of the Miami Hurricanes football and basketball programs since August of 2011.
That was when news surfaced that former booster Nevin Shapiro claimed he provided impermissible benefits to at least 72 former Miami athletes from 2002-2010, propelling the NCAA to begin a massive investigation into the University of Miami’s athletic program.
Miami waited month after month for answers from the NCAA as it tried to heal the limp that was holding the program back back but nothing, nothing for two and a half years.
But now, after years of uncertainty, Miami’s limp has finally healed.
After a long and dragged out investigation that dragged Miami along with it, the NCAA today announced UM’s penalties in the case, citing a lack of institutional control and placing Miami on three years probation that includes a loss of nine scholarships for the football program and a total of three for the basketball program.
However, Miami’s damage stops there, as the program was not given any further penalties, most notably zero bowl bans.
So after a two and a half year investigation into one of the biggest NCAA scandals in recent memory, a scandal where some people (not me) were calling for the death penalty right away, that’s it? We waited this long for this?
That brings me to my biggest question: if this was the penalty handed down then why did the NCAA make Miami wait so long for it? What was the point of sticking Miami in limbo as if it were Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Inception? If you remember, the NCAA said the results of the investigation would be announced by the start of the season. We’re now almost in November.
Now Miami did a great job cooperating with the NCAA throughout the investigation and took major steps to help fix its injured leg while the NCAA tried to figure out if it was broken or not. UM self-imposed two bowl bans in 2011 and 2012 and forfeited an opportunity to play in the 2012 ACC Championship game. According to news outlets around the country today that helped mightily in the penalties handed down by the NCAA.
As much as the NCAA is taking heat for its penalties it got them right. Miami had already hit itself pretty hard with self-imposed penalties. No one involved in the scandal is even associated with the athletic department anymore. Miami cleaned out the mess and showed the NCAA it was headed in the right direction. Miami basically fell on the sword for two and a half years while the NCAA took its dear old time with its investigation. There was no need to make the program suffer anymore.
These penalties were not a slap on the wrist. Those who think they were don’t understand just how much Miami’s football program suffered in the past three seasons, whether it was its self-imposed penalties or losses in recruiting to other schools. The current student-athletes had nothing to do with this scandal yet had their postseason dreams crushed for two straight seasons. That was punishment enough for a bunch of innocent bystanders.
Now that the investigation is over there’s plenty of good news for Miami. The Hurricanes are undefeated and ranked seventh in the current BCS standings and the sky appears to be getting only brighter for the program. While UM is reduced to only 82 scholarships over the next three seasons, it is currently under that number at 76, putting them in position to still improve the roster that is already loaded with talent. Miami also currently has the No. 4 recruiting class according to ESPN.com, which is pretty outstanding considering all the turmoil head coach Al Golden has had to deal with since he took over the program in 2011.
Today’s verdict was a long and overdue closure for UM’s players, coaches, and fans. For the first time under Golden Miami can take the field this Saturday against Wake Forest without the NCAA’s ominous cloud hanging over Sun Life Stadium. It can do so without the fear of its postseason hopes being drenched by that same cloud. It can finally do so with a singular focus and that’s winning a football game. There’s no more worrying in Coral Gables, just playing football. That couldn’t come at a better time for the Hurricanes as they face rivals Florida State and Virginia Tech in back to back weeks after battling the Demon Deacons this weekend.
Welcome back to a sunny South Florida Hurricanes.
No more limp, just full speed ahead.