More than two years after its investigation into impermissible benefits provided by convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro began, the NCAA is set to inform the University of Miami what sanctions will be handed down on Tuesday.
The NCAA's Committee on Infractions will reveal any proposed sanctions against the Hurricanes on Tuesday morning. The NCAA said Monday that Britton Banowsky, who chairs the infractions committee, would discuss the decision on a teleconference at 11 a.m. EDT, one hour after the word will be released. Miami officials are expected to not comment about the decision until that teleconference concludes.
Scholarship reductions and postseason bans are among the penalties that could be imposed on UM, which has already self-imposed a postseason ban for the past two seasons on its football team.
If stiff penalties are proposed, Miami plans to appeal. The Hurricanes say they believe already-self-imposed sanctions such as missing three postseason football games (two bowl games and a berth in last year's ACC Championship Game) should be enough to atone for whatever rules were broken.
The NCAA says former booster Shapiro provided at least 72 Miami football players, 12 of their associates and three recruits with impermissible benefits between 2002 and 2010. The men's basketball program also was accused of impropriety.
The news comes at a possibly fortuitous time for the Miami football team. The Canes are currently ranked sixth in the country, their highest ranking since 2005. At 6-0, they have a very real shot at participating in the ACC Championship game and/or a BCS bowl. Neither would happen if the NCAA imposes another postseason ban, but UM plans to appeal such an outcome, which would allow the school to participate in a bowl game while waiting for the appeal.
"We don't really concern ourselves with things that we can't control, such as the investigation and what people are saying," Miami running back Duke Johnson said Monday. "We just come in and work hard every day."
News of the scandal first broke just before the 2011 season, when Yahoo Sports published a lengthy expose on Shapiro's activities as a booster. Among the claims made by Shapiro in the report were tales of cash rewards for big plays, visits to strip clubs, and parties on Shapiro's yacht.
A study of the allegations by The Associated Press found the NCAA was able to identify only about $173,330 in so-called extra benefits. But the most damning allegation was that the school did not "exercise institutional control" over Shapiro.
The NCAA has come under fire for its handling of the investigation. Former NCAA enforcement chief Julie Roe Lach was forced out in March after a report showed the NCAA paid Shapiro attorney Maria Elena Perez more than $19,000 to collect evidence in the case despite objections from the NCAA's legal department and against NCAA rules.
UM has called the NCAA's probe "unethical and unprofessional" and attempted to have it dismissed earlier this year.
Also troubling to UM is the extended wait to hear the NCAA's decision. The Hurricanes met with the infractions committee in June, expecting an answer within eight weeks. It has been 18 weeks since that meeting.
According to documents reviewed by The Associated Press, the NCAA asked the Hurricanes to provide, among other things: Information about how many scholarships Miami is using in football and men's basketball this academic year, how many Miami plans to issue in those sports next year, details of all postseason play in the last four years, and a review of all games that the school expects to play on television in the next three years.
That suggests the NCAA was considering scholarship reductions, vacation of some records, and a TV ban as possible penalties.
"We believe strongly in the principles and values of fairness and due process," university President Donna Shalala said Feb. 18, one day before the school received its allegations. "However, we have been wronged in this investigation, and we believe that this process must come to a swift resolution, which includes no additional punitive measures beyond those already self-imposed."
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