The sanctions the NCAA handed down to the Miami football program on Tuesday could have been worse, but the timing couldn't have been.
The Hurricanes must weather the distraction inherent with the NCAA's announced decision, as they prepare for rival Florida State and the program's most important game in several years.
NCAA investigators tried to solidify the case convicted Ponzi scheme conspirator Nevin Shapiro built.
"A lot of complexities to it, sheer volume of case was enormous," was the reason for the investigation's long process, NCAA Committee on Infractions chairman Britton Banowsky said on Tuesday's conference call.
Banowsky addressed reporters in a call that appropriately started late, as ACCSports' Jim Young noted.
I've been on hold for 10 minutes trying to get on the NCAA teleconference re: Miami. There's a metaphor in here somewhere.— Jim Young (@ACCSports) October 22, 2013
Indeed, there was a lot to this case. Shapiro alleged a litany of violations against Miami football and basketball, and neither program was completely exonerated.
And though the Hurricanes lose just three scholarships, they paid a penance with self-imposed sanctions.
Banowsky said sacrificing Miami its bowl eligibility in 2011 and 2012 was "so severe," the COI did not suggest alternative punishment.
After dragging its feet for over two years, the NCAA chose today—11 days before the Hurricanes play the biggest game of Al Golden's tenure as head coach.
Realistically, the Nov. 2 Sunshine State showdown between BCS No. 2 Florida State and No. 7 Miami could be considered the most meaningful game for either program in a decade.
Oct. 24, 2004 was the last time both Miami and Florida State were ranked this highly in the BCS standings (h/t @bytimreynolds).
Another stat you can steal: This is the first time Miami and Florida State have been together in top 7 of BCS since week of Oct. 24, 2004.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) October 21, 2013
Intentional or not, the NCAA twisted the knife just a little bit more before removing it from Miami. College athletics' governing body escalated the investigation's low rumbling, which had become white noise for the past two years, to a crescendo.
Add this into the background of Miami's preparation for a game that features:
- ACC Championship implications.
- BCS Championship implications.
- an in-state rival.
And, oh yeah, the Hurricanes play 4-3 Wake Forest this Saturday.
The NCAA's ill-timed decision only adds to the distractions from which Golden must refocus his players. However, there is a silver lining.
A definitive conclusion allows Miami to pursue the conference championship unencumbered. Last year, the Hurricanes could have played in the ACC title game had it not self-imposed a second bowl ban.
The recruiting air is also cleared. Golden and his staff know the allotment with which they have to work and have a clear future to pitch to prospects.
Ultimately, Miami comes out of this marathon in good shape. But the NCAA's inopportune timing was one final misstep in two-plus years of them.
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer for B/R. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kensing45.