The Miami saga has come to an end with the NCAA releasing an infractions report, which adds only light sanctions to the Hurricanes football team. Following this extended debacle of a case, the NCAA and the University of Miami were able to get it right when it came to the punishment.
In addition to the self-imposed two-year bowl ban, the Miami program also already reduced official visits, contact days and recruiting evaluations in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The NCAA accepted those penalties, only electing to tack on the obligatory three-year probationary period and the loss of nine scholarships over three seasons, three scholarships a year. It's a relief to Miami, as Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press quotes Miami President Donna Shalala:
When the case first came to light, many were calling for the Death Penalty for the Hurricanes. After all, surely allegations of prostitution, cash gifts and a decadent South Beach lifestyle should park The U for a season or two. Many did not care that the information was obtained through Nevin Shapiro, a convicted felon and questionable source, at best.
Players were suspended for suspected involvement. Ray-Ray Armstrong lost his eligibility because of rumored wrongdoing that scared the university into dismissing him. The 'Canes elected to sit out a bowl game in 2011, then both the ACC Championship Game and a bowl game in 2012. The U was slowly suffering setbacks, all while waiting on the NCAA.
Then, things changed. The NCAA announced that all non-cooperative parties would be deemed guilty on the word of the sources. The governing organization also reported unethical behavior of its own in trying to gather information about the case.
Thus, in February 2013, Shalala launched a salvo that clearly indicated the University of Miami was not going to take it anymore, and The U started fighting back. Unethical behavior by the NCAA was compounded as the school discovered more actions of operating below board to attempt and nail the 'Canes to the floor.
With multiple acts of wrongdoing in conducting the investigation, the simple, nine-scholarship punishment was truly all the NCAA could get out of Miami. There were holes all over the organization's case, it was in deep water as the nation turned on it, and the only course of action was to get out and save a little face without risking a big fight with a school ready to go to the mattresses.
This punishment is the NCAA tucking its tail between its legs and finally closing the door on a saga that started in 2009, all because the organization got caught with its hand in the cookie jar. What it thought would be a great case to make an example out of, to grab a pound of flesh and spill a school's blood, turned into a public display of NCAA ineptitude and unethical action.
Oh, and coercion if Miami defensive end Dyron Dye's case had gone through.
The ordinarily simple, blood-lustful masses moved from Death Penalty support to picking apart the NCAA as the case wore on nationally. The NCAA lost the people, and as the footing on which the organization operates on continues to grow shaky, it could not risk overstepping its bounds with this ruling.
It's a smart move by the NCAA in letting the 'Canes ride largely on their self-imposed sanctions. It's a great day for Miami, a school that will shed the negative hypotheticals that have plagued it in recent seasons, particularly in recruiting. As the No. 7 ranked team nationally, this is just another positive feather in the cap of Coach Al Golden's program.