Tension between the NCAA and the University of Miami has been escalating for quite some time. It started with the rumors surrounding Nevin Shapiro and the big Charles Robinson Yahoo! Sports story. The revving up continued as time passed with no end in sight.
Players sat out, a bowl game was missed and then The Miami Herald reported the next big news—that all Miami's players would be guilty until proven innocent if they did not talk. Then, the big break on the Miami side of things happened.
The NCAA had screwed up the investigation, taking unethical liberties in its effort to nail Miami to the floor.
Now, with the notice of allegations (NOA) reportedly in Coral Gables per the Associated Press, Miami has launched a big public salvo. President Donna Shalala, in a press release issued through the school, has made it pretty clear that The U is mighty damn tired of the NCAA, as the report suggests:
We deeply regret any violations, but we have suffered enough.
The University and counsel will work diligently to prepare our official response to the Notice of Allegations and submit it to the Committee on Infractions within the required 90-day time period.
We trust that the Committee on Infractions will provide the fairness and integrity missing during the investigative process.
That's right, after very clear explanations as to why the school is not impressed by Mark Emmert and his gang, Shalala finishes it off with a jab about the NCAA's own people lacking integrity.
It must be noted that this response is merely a statement. The official response to the NOA will come from the school sometime in the next 90 days and will likely be a bit more nicely phrased. Especially since the sensationalized drama that was sold along with the investigation—prostitutes, luxury cars and such—is nowhere to be found in the allegations Miami received.
Ultimately, this is not a battle that will be waged on the home front of the guys out of Indianapolis. This is a highly publicized public-relations battle in which the lines are already very clearly drawn.
It is less about what Miami is guilty of doing and a lot more about how the NCAA gathered its information and what it deemed was found through ethical means.
The line has been drawn, starting with those shouting for Mark Emmert's resignation. The ranks of those disapproving of the NCAA swell when it comes to dropping things and moving on from Miami. In other words, not only did Miami already sanction itself, but since the NCAA was caught red-handed botching the investigation, it's time for the NCAA to let it go.
Depending on how the NCAA reacts, we could see more people get off the fence and side with The U. The NCAA believing the testimony of a convicted felon was already shady enough. Now that it has proved to be a line-crosser, in most people's eyes, it forfeits the right to lay down punishment in this case.
Things will get worse for the NCAA before they get better, especially with Emmert apparently hellbent on retaining his post and shoving the rhetoric of integrity and accountability down the throats of others—while his own organization choked in that department.
We know speed is not the NCAA's strong suit when it comes to investigations. With months remaining before closure, this is going to be a public battle fought on many fronts. If Emmert and the NCAA expect to merely bury their heads in the sand and let it pass, they're grossly underestimating the public's outrage. They will have to deal with this, and it will certainly get ugly.