The NCAA finally got something right, though again admitted no wrong in its process.
In an unprecedented move, sanctions against Penn State University have been rescinded and the Nittany Lions will see scholarships gradually restored over the next few seasons.
No news regarding the four-year postseason ban, $60 million fine or years of vacated wins, but as a result of Tuesday's landmark decision, the future now looks less bleak.
The let-up on Penn State isn't a mea culpa for any over-punishment handed down from the NCAA. Instead, the restoring of scholarships is being done in good faith—a pat on the head for exemplary behavior in Happy Valley and a supposed change in culture over the past 13 months.
In other news, the University of Miami remains hung out to dry, resolution still feeling a million miles away over 2 years after Charles Robinson and Yahoo! Sports dropped their exposé, hinging on the word of con-man and convicted Ponzi schemer, Nevin Shapiro.
The NCAA did right by lessening penalties levied against Penn State, but the situation remains frustrating from Miami's perspective.
Countless man-hours were recently dedicated to cleaning up a year-old mess in Happy Valley, while the meter on UM's case has been running two-plus years with no clear cut answers. Where's the justice in that?
It's now been 106 days since UM pleaded its case in front of the Committee On Infractions, well past the four-to-six week mark said to be the standard.
Penn State was accused, investigated, tried and convicted in an eight-month span and now just over a year later, reparations have been made regarding the initial punishment.
NCAA receptionist: "Uh, Dr. Emmert, Donna Shalala on line two. She'd like to know how you decided on Penn State twice before Miami once."— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) September 24, 2013
Shaprio's first claims surfaced in August 2010, rants from his jail cell about a writing tell-all book regarding the inner workings of the Hurricanes program.
The Robinson story broke a year later and the nation immediately turned on the University of Miami.
Media members and sports fans nationwide irresponsibly demanding the "death penalty" based on the words of a white collar thug with an admitted vendetta—someone who duped some very smart, affluent, successful people out of almost a billion dollars and made a career out of deceit.
Suspensions. Dismissals. The program was treated as guilty until proven innocent, media members, again, wanting the football program disbanded, while rival coaches used the negativity in effort to sway South Florida's best talent away from Coral Gables.
In response, Miami self-imposed two straight bowl bans and a berth in last year's ACC Championship. It also paid back $83,000 to the bankruptcy trustee in late 2011 and months later instituted a policy limiting contact between football players and their families with agents until the athlete's eligibility expires.
During this time, Emmert went out of his way to acknowledge that Miami had been "incredibly cooperative" in the investigation, yet earlier this year the NCAA's corrupt ways were exposed, as the organization was using unethical tactics, working at all costs to demolish the Miami program.
Has NCAA painted itself into corner with Penn State? Miami credited by Emmert early on as being incredibly cooperative.— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) September 25, 2013
The result of the NCAA's rogue behavior has caused a sway in public opinion. Since the beginning of the year Miami turned into somewhat of a sympathetic figure, while Emmert and the NCAA have since assumed the role of villain.
CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd went as far as to suggest lack of institutional control within the NCAA and stated that Emmert should pay with his job, while ACC president John Swofford came Miami's defense last June.
"I've said it before, I think the sheer length of the investigation has been a penalty in itself," Swofford said during the Committee On Infraction hearings, while a rallying cry of "time served" has become somewhat universal.
Many are calling for reform within the NCAA as there's no rhyme or reason to the process in which violators are handled.
It's an organization that answers to no one, seemingly making up the rules as new storylines unfold.
Since 2010, there have been major programs in hot water besides Miami and Penn State. Ohio State, North Carolina and Oregon all went through the investigative process, with different degrees of punishment, as well as varying timelines in which their infractions were handled.
The Buckeyes were embroiled in a 2010 scandal regarding signed memorabilia traded for tattoos and blatant deceit by then-head coach Jim Tressel.
Five players immediately received five-game sit-downs, but were allowed to play in the 2011 Sugar Bowl against Arkansas, with the suspensions rolling over to the following season.
The NCAA investigation of North Carolina uncovered $27,000 in improper benefits to football players, academic fraud and an assistant coach taking money from an agent where he was steering players. The Tar Heels program was allegedly guilty of nine major NCAA violations.
A bowl ban was imposed, 15 scholarships were stripped, two years of wins were vacated and three years of probation was handed down.
Oregon's case came to fruition and signaled a change in NCAA policy as the steepest punishment was given to those involved, opposed to making present-day players and coaches suffer.
Former head coach Chip Kelly, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, was hit with an 18-month show-cause order, while the Ducks were striped of a scholarship for each of the next two seasons and put on three years probation.
Oregon found its way into the NCAA's crosshairs due to shady recruiting practices and a $25,000 payment to a Houston-based recruiting service.
|Investigation Start||COI Hearing||Investigation End|
|Ohio State||December 2010||August 2011||August 2011|
|Miami||Early 2011||June 2013||???|
|Penn State||November 2011||N/A||July 2012|
|North Carolina||June 2010||October 2011||March 2012|
|Oregon||March 2011||April 2013||June 2013|
Could the leniency and logic shown towards Oregon, combined with the reduction in penalties against Penn State signal a kinder, gentler NCAA?
The catchphrase regarding the Nittany Lions' second chance is "good faith", while "cooperation" is something that the Sporting News' Matt Hayes focused on in a column early 2012.
"Those who assist in the investigation of their own wrongdoing—no matter how awful—will be treated better than those who do everything they can to fight it," Hayes explained.
Emmert already lauded Miami's cooperation, but will that be rewarded when the Committee Of Infractions hands down penalties?
Time served, or at worst, probation and minimal scholarship reductions. Anything on top of that and a safe bet that the University of Miami and president Donna Shalala will be glad to take this fight a few more rounds.
Follow Chris Bello on Twitter @allCanesBlog