Breaking Down What the NCAA's Decision on Miami Football Really Means

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2013

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden walks back to the sidelines during the first quarter against the South Florida Bulls on September 28, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The long, drawn-out, gut-wrenching saga of Miami's postseason ban has come to an end, and the Hurricanes—currently ranked No. 7 in the BCS—will be eligible to participate in a bowl game this season for the first time since 2010.

Per an official NCAA release:

The committee acknowledged and accepted the extensive and significant self-imposed penalties by the university. Additional penalties in this case include a three-year probation period; a reduction in the number of football and men’s basketball scholarships; recruiting restrictions; a five-game suspension for the former head men’s basketball coach; and two-year show-cause orders for two former assistant football coaches and a former assistant men’s basketball coach.

In addition to everything Miami had already imposed on itself, the NCAA later listed this as its only football-specific punishment:

  • Reduction of football scholarship by a combined total of nine during the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.
  • Miami may only provide a prospect on unofficial visits complementary tickets for one home game during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

Miami had "self-imposed" a bowl ban on itself the previous two seasons, a gesture of goodwill and compliance toward the NCAA as it investigated the program's connection to booster Nevin Shapiro. The Hurricanes wanted to show remorse in hopes of reducing the eventual sanctions from on high.

But months and years would pass before the NCAA made its decision, and it became clear that the only ones being hurt in the process were innocent parties—guys like head coach Al Golden and current Miami football players, none of whom were around when Shapiro was corrupting the program.

"Do I think it's fair? No," Golden said, according to ESPN, after the school announced it would self-impose its bowl ban last season. "But that's the system."

On Tuesday, "the system" made up its mind, and in imposing no official bowl ban, it appears to agree with the public sentiment: That Miami has done enough to repent. These relatively minor sanctions are a white flag from the NCAA, which no longer smells blood in the water of Coral Gables.

Nine lost scholarships is obviously not ideal, but it's a small price to pay given all of the strife Miami has endured. And, as B/R's Barrett Sallee posits, it might have even been a gesture of goodwill back toward the Hurricanes' program, hoping to avoid some sort of legal retribution: 

Some also think that Miami might argue the nine scholarship losses, since the school was hoping to receive no further punitive repercussions.

But according to Chip Patterson of CBS Sports, the Hurricanes are expected to accept this final sanction without any sort of appeal:

No one would blame Miami for trying to fight the lost scholarships, and if it appealed, it would stand a chance of winning. But taking this slap-on-the-wrist penalty in stride would put an end—by and large—to a stupidly prolonged saga and usher in a new era, starting now, of post-Shapiro football in Miami.

How could the program pass that up?