First-year Miami Hurricanes coach Al Golden could have trouble finding enough bodies for the Sept. 5 opener at Maryland. The school announced Monday that it’s looking into the eligibility of 15 athletes who may have taken impermissible gifts from a booster.
Miami President Donna Shalala did not specify which athletes, but rogue booster Nevin Shapiro revealed to Yahoo! Sports last week that he gave money and gifts to 12 current Hurricanes football players and one men’s basketball player.
The most crippling part for the Hurricanes is that nearly all of the players named by Shapiro are either starters or key players and team leaders. The biggest name may be senior quarterback Jacory Harris, who would be a four-year starter.
So far there’s no concrete evidence that makes any of the players ineligible at this point. But after the school and NCAA investigations are completed, it’s very likely that all of them could be ineligible.
In the meantime, Miami and Golden find themselves in a bit of catch-22 situation. If they play any of the athletes who are later deemed ineligible, the Hurricanes would have to forfeit the games they participated in. But if the Hurricanes bench these players, they won’t have the talent on the field to win many games this season, either.
“The Miami athletic compliance staff, in a joint effort with the NCAA, is now beginning the process of reviewing the eligibility of 15 current student-athletes,” Shalala said in a video statement. “With the season fast approaching, I know our players, coaches and fans are eager to know the results. The process, however, must be deliberate and thorough to ensure its integrity.”
According to the Associated Press, the school would like to make a decision on the players by the end of the week. This would give the Hurricanes' coach the next few days to prepare a depth chart going into the season opener on Sept. 5. But this week of practice has to be a challenge, not knowing if your potential starting quarterback is going to be eligible by week’s end or not.
Sophomore Stephen Morris and Harris have been in a back-and-forth battle for the starting quarterback spot, but this latest development could give Morris the job by default.
(Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)