CORAL GABLES, Fla.
Calling the move prudent and unprecedented, Miami is self-imposing a second straight postseason ban on its football program because of an NCAA investigation that is expected to eventually lead to stiff sanctions against the Hurricanes.
The decision, announced to players — who described the mood as disappointing and shocking — early Monday morning, ends Miami’s hopes of winning the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division, securing a berth in the league’s overall championship game and any chance for the team to play in the Orange Bowl.
And while the school said it’s not imposing any further penalties yet, Miami coach Al Golden revealed he is preparing to lose some scholarships going forward.
“We want to get it fixed,” Golden said. “Again, we didn’t ask for it. But I have confidence in the coaches and the players and all the guys that made a commitment to fix this at the end of the day, and that’s where we’re at. ... We’ll get through it. Miami’s been through it before. We’ll get through it.”
By skipping another bowl season, Miami — which still has not been presented with its notice of allegations from the NCAA, meaning the process is almost certainly several months from being complete — is hoping to minimize the impact of any looming sanctions that could be handed down when the investigation ends. Schools often self-impose penalties with hope that the NCAA takes those measures into account when doling out punishment, and typically, it works.
Acting Miami athletic director Blake James told the team of the decision.
“I think everybody was surprised,” quarterback Stephen Morris said. “I think everybody was in a state of shock, actually.”
The NCAA began looking into Miami’s athletic department in March 2011, five months before rogue booster and convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro told Yahoo Sports that he provided dozens of athletes and recruits with so-called “extra benefits” such as cash, meals, strip club access and yacht rides over an eight-year span starting in 2002.
Of the 83 individuals named by Shapiro for that story, only three — two players and one equipment-room staffer — are currently at Miami. This year’s team will pay a steep price anyway.
“Do I think it’s fair? No,” Golden said. “But that’s the system.”