Miami waiting game could have unintended consequences

Give the NCAA this, they rarely rush to judgment.

Full disclosure: As a recent graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I am all too familiar with the NCAA’s deliberate process of leveling blame on its member institutions.  While it is definitely good that they review allegations carefully, it often hurts the wrong people.

Currently, the spotlight is pointed at Miami, as it has been for nearly a year and a half.  A
Yahoo! Sports report in August 2011 opened the investigation with a loud bang, focusing on allegations by imprisoned Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, primarily benefits he provided to “at least 72 athletes” between 2002 and 2010.

Since then, Miami has self-imposed several punishments in response to these allegations and investigations.  For the last two years, the Hurricanes have not participated in football postseason play, costing them a visit to the ACC Championship Game in 2012.  Miami declared several players ineligible prior to the 2011 season before receiving suspensions from the NCAA on their behalf.

Miami, reportedly, is on the brink of receiving an official Notice of Allegations from the NCAA this week.  While Miami certainly hopes its proactive measures will stem the NCAA’s retribution, we won’t know for certain until this saga is over.  However, any punishments dealt out are likely to harm more people outside of the investigation than inside of it, as is often the case with these slow-going NCAA investigations.

Take, for example, the alleged charges against former Miami coaches Frank Haith and Clint Hurtt.  Frank Haith, formerly the head basketball coach at Miami, is now at Missouri, while Clint Hurtt has moved from Miami to Louisville, where he is defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.

If these charges stand (or even exist, as Haith’s camp is suggesting otherwise), then it will be people at Missouri and Louisville who will begin to face the NCAA’s wrath, including players who were in elementary school during many of Miami’s impermissible benefits.

These coaches could face “show-cause” penalties, which means that, as long as they are employed, their employer (Missouri and Louisville) must accept any penalties placed on them.  Given the choice between NCAA sanctions and finding a new coach, the schools would likely choose to take a new direction for their program’s future that doesn’t involve the former ‘Canes (i.e: firing Haith and Hurtt).  However, we could be months away from learning if that is the case.  After all, this is, for all parties, merely a Notice of Allegations.

All involved will be given the chance to respond to the NCAA’s allegations before punishments are doled out, which means Miami (and other schools) could be in the lurch for quite a while longer still.  For example, UNC received its Notice of Allegations in May 2011, but was not sanctioned until March 2012.  A similar wait for Miami means another football season will begin without any guarantee to its players or potential recruits that the NCAA isn’t lurking with its hammer of justice.

This is an extreme example, due in part to the massive time frame Shapiro’s allegations encompass.  However, it doesn’t excuse the time the NCAA has taken to reach its ultimate conclusion.  The NCAA only banned  North Carolina for one postseason during its investigation of that program.  Therein lies Miami’s catch-22: Without self-imposing sanctions, NCAA punishments could have derailed the program for several years, depending on their severity.  They would have also likely punished future Hurricanes’ players, far removed from the benefits received from 2002 to 2010. However, by self-imposing in hopes of preventing future damage, it is entirely possible that Miami has punished its current players and staff excessively, and could potentially face similar decisions in 2013.

If the latter happens to be the case, the fault shouldn’t go to Miami for trying to right the wrongs uncovered through the Shapiro interviews.  Instead, fingers should point directly to the NCAA for prolonging this investigation, which will ultimately punish a lot of people who had no part in Miami’s wrongdoing.

Preseason buzz: Perfect Game released their preseason All-Americans Monday, and NC State shortstop Trea Turner and pitcher Carlos Rodon made the first team.  Representing the ACC on the second team were North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran and Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher.

In December, Rodon was also named to the National College Baseball Writers Association’s and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s preseason first team All-American squads.  Turner made first team for Collegiate Baseball and second team for the NCBWA, while Moran was a Collegiate Baseball third teamer.

Rodon, Turner, and Fisher were all Freshman-All Americans in 2012. Rodon boasted a 9-0 record with a 1.57 ERA for the Wolfpack during his freshman season, earning consensus first-team All-America honors for his play. Turner batted .336 and stole 57 bases on 61 attempts, leading the nation.  Fisher topped the ACC in triples, home runs, RBI, and slugging.

Moran led the Tar Heels with a .365 batting average in 2012, but missed time with a right hand injury.  In 2011, he was Baseball America’ Freshman of the Year.

Perfect Game also released its preseason rankings on Tuesday.  North Carolina comes in as PG’s preseason favorite. Rodon, Turner, et al. at NC State are ranked ninth, while Georgia Tech is 12th and Florida State is 17th.


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