Miami scandal threatens ACC reputation

Recently, the NCAA has cracked down on several college football programs such as USC, Ohio State, LSU, North Carolina and recently Tech. Some fans of the game might argue that the amount of recent allegations are ruining the game. However, none of the allegations from any of these schools matches up to the recent reported offenses committed by the University of Miami. I don’t even think if you added up the other school’s allegations on this list, they would match up to the alleged NCAA violations committed in South Beach.

There’s only one word to describe these allegations: sleazy. According to a report by Yahoo! Sports, a booster named Nevin Shapiro was involved in providing at least 72 University of Miami athletes impermissible benefits from 2002-10. Along with players, at least seven coaches were also having fun with the players receiving what Shapiro estimated to be millions of dollars in benefits. Millions of dollars going to things like prostitutes, yacht trips, strip clubs, restaurant trips and in one case an abortion. Compare that to Tech losing their ACC title over $312, and who knows what will happen to Miami.

What’s insane about this whole situation is that college players usually get illegally paid when they’re actually good on the field, and Miami has not been above average at football since 2004, and a pretty mediocre team the last four years. For all that college football fans know, the players might have been out partying too hard on a Friday night and choked when they were finally in the spotlight.

Nobody has been affected more than Miami’s new head coach Al Golden. Miami apparently “forgot” to mention that they knew Shapiro was involved in some suspicious behavior with players while interviewing him and eventually hiring him for the vacant head coaching job. Fifteen of the players that he inherited are now being investigated and probably won’t get to play for at least a portion of the season. I would not blame Golden if he decided to quit, as he earned his way to a high profile job and deserves to know he could possibly be inheriting an awful situation.

There is a lot of talk from fans and media outlets alike about Miami receiving the “death penalty” from the NCAA. For those who don’t know what it means, the “death penalty” in college sports is when the NCAA bans a certain collegiate program from participating in playing a sport for at least one season. The only school to ever receive the penalty is Southern Methodist University in 1987. The penalty essentially killed their football program, which used to be a powerhouse in the Southwest conference. If you ask most college football fans if they think that SMU is a significant football program now, they’ll probably laugh and simply say, “Nope.”

Miami receiving the “death penalty” would affect pretty much everyone in the ACC but mostly the teams in the Coastal division. Anyone playing Miami during the season (or, possibly, seasons) would be banned and have to find a new opponent to play. It would be hard to settle things, because some teams in the ACC would still be playing eight conference games and some would be stuck with only seven teams on their schedule.

In addition, the perception of the conference is already in shambles as three ACC Coastal Division teams have been or are being investigated. The bad press is almost certainly affecting recruiting for the schools, and making prospective athletes reconsider whether or not they want to play in the conference.  If SMU is any indication of history, just one season of not playing football could kill the Miami program. The verbal commitments would almost certainly decommit and we would probably see a lot of transfers out of the school into other programs. Miami was brought into the ACC to be a consistent contender for the national title, and could wind up making a weak ACC even weaker.

While these claimed infractions are shocking at first, it might be best to take a step back and realize that Shapiro is currently incarcerated for being involved in a $930 million Ponzi scheme and was interviewed by Yahoo! while sitting in his jail cell. Miami has to be shaking in their boots, though, considering this investigation is being taken seriously by the NCAA and some of the claims must have some truth to them. We’ll see what the future brings, but with the public out crying for a severe punishment, it will be hard for the NCAA not to crack down on The U.


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