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NCAA: Miami docked scholarships, eligible for postseason

The University of Miami will not be banned from postseason games and faces a minor reduction of scholarships as the result of NCAA violations including a lack of institutional control.

The NCAA called Miami’s level of cooperation commendable and credited the university for its transparency.

“The Committee on Infractions report closes a challenging chapter in the history of the University of Miami,” university president Donna Shalala said in a statement. “I am grateful to our coaches, staff and student-athletes for their dedication to the University and to intercollegiate athletics. I also want to thank Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford for his steadfast support.”

The Committee on Infractions announced the penalties Tuesday, including a three-year probation period effective immediately. The scholarship reductions are from the overall number of scholarships, not from the initial total, meaning a full recruiting class remains possible.

“Many of Miami’s violations were undetected by the university over a 10-year period, and they centered on a booster entertaining prospects and student-athletes at his home, on his yacht and in various restaurants and clubs. Approximately 30 student-athletes were involved with the booster. Several football coaches, three men’s basketball coaches and two athletics department staff members were also involved in the case. These staff members had a poor understanding of NCAA rules or felt comfortable breaking them. Furthermore, some of the coaches provided false information during the enforcement staff and university’s investigation,” the NCAA said in a statement Tuesday.

Miami accepted the punishment and will not use the allowed 15-day window to appeal. The basketball team will lose one scholarship per season for three years.

“The University cooperated fully with investigators and took responsibility for its actions by proactively self-imposing severe penalties, including an unprecedented two-year bowl ban in football, withholding the football program from competing in the ACC Championship Game in 2012, and instituting substantial recruiting restrictions,” a statement from Miami’s athletic department read. “The University accepts the findings and the additional penalties as detailed in the Committee on Infractions report and will not appeal. The University is grateful to the Committee for a fair and thorough hearing.”

Former Miami head basketball coach Frank Haith, now head coach at Missouri, was suspended five games for not promoting “an atmosphere of compliance.” The incident that started the investigation into Haith’s actions was a payment with Haith’s knowledge to DeQuan Jones.

Haith’s suspension for Missouri’s first five regular-season games includes Southeast Louisiana, Southern Illinois, Hawaii, Gardner Webb, and IUPUI.

The NCAA said Tuesday Haith “failed to meet his responsibilities as a head coach when he did not monitor the activities of his assistant coaches, and attempted to cover up the booster’s threats to disclose incriminating information.”

Two former assistant coaches at Miami, Clint Hurtt and Aubrey Hill, received two-year “show cause” penalties. The coaches could appeal the ruling, which limits their ability to recruit and make contact with prospective athletes and brings strict guidelines for reporting activity to the NCAA. Hurtt, 34, is currently Louisville’s defensive line coach. Hill, 41, stepped down as wide receivers coach at Florida in 2012 and is coaching at Carol City (Fla.) High School after 16 seasons as an assistant college football coach.

Miami, which self-imposed postseason bans the past two seasons during the NCAA’s investigation into potential wrongdoing in the Nevin Shapiro scandal, will reportedly be docked three scholarships per season for the next three years. The Hurricanes were bowl-eligible and would have played for the 2012 ACC Championship had the university-imposed ban not been in place.

“The unprecedented actions taken by the university were taken into account,” said Britton Banowsky, the NCAA Committee on Infractions chairperson said Tuesday.

The Hurricanes, 6-0 and ranked seventh in the initial BCS standings with a game to come against No. 2 Florida State, are eligible for all bowl games.

The dramatic saga involving Shapiro, a former booster with sideline and locker room access convincted of operating a $1 billion Ponzi scheme, came to light in a Yahoo Sports report. The NCAA began an investigation 30 months ago under the premise that Miami did not exhibit institutional control over Shapiro, who claimed to pay and pamper several former prominent players with the knowledge of coaches from 2002 to 2010. The NCAA uncovered $173,330 in extra benefits, including large amounts to former Miami players Antrel Rolle and Vince Wilfork.

“The sheer volume of the case was enormous,” Banowsky said, who said the committee hoped to turn around the investigation in two months, but became overburdened by the reams of information and became intent on holding individuals accountable as details were corroborated. “It had some complexitites to it that were … extraordinary.”

Golden was not made available to media, and Miami kept its players from reporters Tuesday. Golden issued a statement to express gratitude and relief.

“I want to sincerely thank our student-athletes and their families who, not only stood with the University of Miami during this unprecedented challenge, but subsequently volunteered for the mission,” Golden said. “They shouldered the burden, exhibited class and exemplified perseverance for Hurricanes everywhere.”

Hurtt, according the NCAA’s 102-page report, made certain recruits met with Shapiro. The detail provided in the NCAA’s findings could put Hurtt’s current job in jeopardy.

Shapiro also initiated the payment to Jones.

The NCAA had to admit fault stemming from payments to an attorney, Maria Elena Perez, that represented Shapiro in 2011, improper cooperation that was inadmissable in the secondary review. The NCAA repeated Tuesday any information compromised by their own error was not used.

“When determining the facts of the case and appropriate penalties, the committee only considered information obtained appropriately during the investigative process and presented at the hearing,” the NCAA said Tuesday. “The case involved numerous, serious violations of NCAA rules, many of which were not disputed by the university. Overall, it involved 18 general allegations of misconduct with 79 issues within those allegations. These were identified through an investigation that included 118 interviews of 81 individuals. Additionally, the committee had the responsibility of determining the credibility of individuals who submitted inconsistent statements and information provided by a booster who is now in federal prison. In reaching its conclusions, the committee found, in most instances, corroboration through supporting documentation and the statements of individuals other than the booster.”

Shapiro is serving a 20-year jail sentence. Miami used his soiled reputation to dispute many of his claims. When the first Notice of Allegations was delivered to Miami, the NCAA alleged that 72 student-athletes received benefits from Shapiro totaling more than $170,000.