NCAA vs. Miami Football
“Life is the sum of all your choices…. We make decisions every day; everything we say and do is the result of a decision, whether we make it consciously or not. For every choice, big or small, there’s no easy formula for making the right decision. The best you can do is to approach it from as many perspectives as possible and then choose a course of action that seems reasonable and balanced at that time.” – Albert Camus
If you’re anything like me, you have been living and dying by any shred of “news” that came out about the NCAA’s investigation into Miami’s football program for the past two and a half years. Unfortunately, much like National Signing Day for the Miami Hurricanes, all the “insiders” claiming to know what the NCAA would/will do, don’t seem to know anything. Who would have guessed that the NCAA would take a quarter of a decade to release the NOI? Who would have guessed the NCAA would HIRE Nevin Shapiro’s own lawyer to investigate on its behalf during bankruptcy proceedings? (Florida Bar, are you listening?) Who would have guessed that the NCAA would not even talk to Miami’s former athletic director, Paul Dee (rest in peace) or Miami Hurricanes’ former head coach, Randy Shannon? Who would have guessed that the NCAA would determine that testimony of a convicted felon (who is in jail for lying and defrauding people out of nearly one billion dollars) was corroborated evidence because the lying felon said the same thing more than once? Food for thought: how many lies did he repeat when he was bilking investors out of millions of dollars? Who would have guessed that the NCAA would have PAID Shapiro $4,500 so that he could make phone calls to them while in prison? Who would have guessed that even after gutting “substantial” portions of its report, the NCAA would still have enough information to hit Miami with the infamous Lack of Institutional Control tag? Who would have guessed that the NCAA would finally release its findings at the tipoff of the at the time #2 ranked Hurricanes basketball game last Tuesday night? (OK, we all probably could have guessed that last one – in fact, my money was on the NCAA releasing the findings on National Signing Day.)
To paraphrase Mr. Camus above, the only thing we can do in life is make the best decision with the information we have at the time. That is exactly what Donna Shalala and the University of Miami have done throughout this investigation. In light of Yahoo!’s “journalistic” (for lack of a better word) article in 2011, the Miami Hurricanes forfeited a conference game against Maryland (after suspending its starting quarterback, all-star receiver, and the majority of its defense). It further suspended Ray Ray Armstrong and Dyron Dye for 4 games, and Oliver Vernon for 6 games during that 2011 season. After getting bowl eligible, the University immediately self-imposed a bowl ban and in essence forfeited the next game against Boston College. In light of the NCAA dragging its feet, wasting time with bankruptcy proceedings and firing investigators, Miami made the decision to not participate in either the ACC Championship Game or a bowl game in 2012. All told, in football alone, Miami decided to accept 2 bowl game suspensions, an ACC Championship suspension, suspend players for 19 combined games, and endure negative recruiting, the likes of which no school (aside from Penn State) has ever seen.
Given the fact that the NCAA has now hit the University of Miami with a Lack of Institutional Control finding, the punishment appears to fit the crime. If Miami Hurricanes had done nothing, and had the NCAA eventually imposed an ACC Championship and 2 year bowl ban, people around the country would say that Miami Football got crushed by the NCAA. Given the facts that were available to the University of Miami in 2011 and 2012, the University made the best decisions that it could at the time, and imposed the proper sanctions. It preemptively fit the punishment to the crime. What more could the school have done? Like any other orange and green blooded fan of the U, I can’t help but be upset that the NCAA has not yet concluded the punishment phase of its investigation, but I take comfort in asking the following question: What more can the NCAA do? Perhaps the even better question is, if the NCAA does take further measures against the University of Miami, wouldn’t it have instituted such penalties even if Miami had not self-imposed?
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Que sera, sera – Whatever will be, will be. The University of Miami has done everything right up to this point, and I expect nothing less in the future. In the end, Canes basketball is #5 in the country; recruits that want to be Canes will be; the football team is expected to contend for an ACC Championship; and the NCAA is looking more and more like a vindictive joke. I have accepted the fact that Miami cannot change the NCAA’s course of action. The University of Miami has however, done everything it possibly could. It’s great to be a Miami Hurricane. I stand with The U.