It appears the NCAA is set to look even deeper into allegations that a former Miami booster provided athletes with impermissible benefits over an eight-year period.
Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the NCAA is considering invoking the “willful violators” clause on the Hurricanes, which allow the college athletics’ governing body to exceed the four-year statute of limitations on violations.
Imprisoned ex-booster Nevin Shapiro has made claims that he provided money, gifts and prostitutes among other things to Miami athletes, particularly football players, from 2002 to 2010. If that is the case and the NCAA investigation is allowed to extend back to 2002, then that could mean major trouble for the Miami athletic department. The program was on probation from 2003 to 2005, which could put Miami into the repeat violator category. That would open the door for possible “death penalty” conversations. The death penalty is a term that describes the NCAA’s power to ban a school from competing in a sport for at least one year.
The problem Miami has is that Shapiro had unusual access to its athletes as a constant presence on the sidelines at football games, and his large donations afforded him luxuries not given to most boosters. The only person who seemed to show even an ounce of concern about Shapiro was former football coach Randy Shannon, whom CaneSport.com said threatened to fire his assistants if they had contact with the booster and warned his players several times about the interactions with Shapiro.
Yet, there Shapiro remained on the sidelines, apparently with the approval of offices higher than Shannon’s. Because Shapiro seemed to have the trust of the athletic department, it has many thinking that the NCAA may invoke the death penalty for the first time since it rocked the SMU program with the extreme penalty in the late 1980s.
But while the death penalty seems unlikely because of the damage it would do to both the University and Atlantic Coast Conference, getting slapped with the "repeat violator" penalty could do major damage to the Hurricanes’ athletic department for years to come.
Miami athletic director Shawn Eichorst broke his silence Thursday and acknowledged the seriousness of this latest NCAA probe. NCAA have been investigating Miami for months and arrived on campus last week to begin digging deeper.
"There are tough times ahead, challenges to overcome and serious decisions to be made, but we will be left standing and we will be stronger as a result," Eichorst wrote in a press release. "I understand there are unanswered questions, concerns and frustration by many, but this athletic department will be defined, now and in the future, by our core values, our integrity and our commitment to excellence, and by nothing else."
(Photo: AP Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan, File)