For the University of Miami, probation is ending – but very little else will change.
Miami's three-year NCAA probation largely stemming from the actions of rogue and now-former booster Nevin Shapiro gets completed on Friday. It satisfies one of the most damning sanctions the Hurricanes were issued, though some aftereffects - scholarship reductions in football and men's basketball, most notably - will remain felt for a few more months.
“Nothing really changes when probation ends, because we've already changed our approach,'' Miami athletic director Blake James said. “We're not going to not be vigilant now. We're going to continue doing all we can to educate our students, our coaches, our fans on the importance of knowing and following NCAA rules to the intent of the law.''
A fairly standard end-of-probation series of events await Miami, which has had to file reports annually during the probation period to show how the school has continued taking corrective actions. Miami's final step was the sending of a letter from university president Julio Frenk affirming that all terms of the probation were met _ and once that is reviewed, if no issues remain, the NCAA replies with official word that probation is in fact over.
What Miami does next is largely of its own accord. The Hurricanes self-imposed a number of additional stipulations to go along with the NCAA sanctions , including banning athletes from accepting invitations from boosters for occasional home-cooked meals - something that's typically permissible.
Another policy that James will revisit is the decision that has kept former football players from watching games from the Miami sideline.
“The date of when the probation ends, we have given no thought to,'' said Miami men's basketball coach Jim Larranaga, who has 10 scholarship players this year - while most Division I clubs will have 13. “Being on probation and being investigated since the day I arrived, that's more than five years that we've dealt with it. It has had a major impact. But now that it's over with, I can see the difference in our recruiting.''
The Shapiro saga is one of the messiest chapters in Miami's history. The investigation took more than 30 months, going back to when Shapiro - who is scheduled to remain in federal prison until 2027 for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme - first contacted the NCAA to essentially boast about his involvement with coaches and athletes at Miami and try to take down people he said betrayed him when he got in legal trouble.
In reality, no one really knows when the sordid affair really started. Perhaps it was 2002, when he started interacting with Hurricane athletes, or 2009 when the school self-reported an internal probe over his actions to the NCAA, or 2011 when he took his story public. Miami elected to sit out two bowl games and an Atlantic Coast Conference football championship game while the NCAA probe crawled along.
And the end of probation won't even end all the sanctions related to this tale.
Shapiro's attorney is scheduled to start a 91-day suspension from The Florida Bar later this year for cooperating with NCAA investigators, a partnership that also violated NCAA rules regarding subpoena usage in such probes and forced the governing body for college sports to remove some of its findings from the final list of allegations against Miami.
The Hurricanes learned plenty of lessons from this mess, James said.
“The good news is I've never gone through this before,'' James said. ``The better news is I never plan on going through this again.''