A few thoughts on the day when Yahoo! dropped a bomb on the Hurricanes:
Is it possible to run a clean athletic program in Miami? DavetheDawg would know better than me, but my impression is that the symbiosis between the Hurricane athletic program and the famed Miami nightlife is so strong that it would be difficult to excise the one from the other. As officials at Southern Cal learned, some environments are just not conducive to good compliance practices. Perhaps we should be glad that Athens is a sleepy hamlet where the most glitzy thing going is likely to be The Darkness Cover Band playing on Tuesday night at the Georgia Theater*.
If you didn't get a chance this afternoon to listen to Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell on Jack Arute and Mike Leach's satellite radio college football show you really missed out. Among other revelations: a) Campbell only met Shapiro twice, but was immediately suspicious of a 5'5 white guy dating a 6'2 black woman, b) Shapiro chapped Uncle Luke a little when he referred to himself as "Little Luke", though at first Campbell just assumed it was a nickname growing from Shapiro's diminuitive stature, and c) Luther Campbell probably knows more about this story than he is willing to tell the national media.
Boy howdy it's going to be fun times at the schools that hired the refugee coaches from Miami implicated in Yahoo!'s reporting. Auburn fans will tell you that Nick Saban's cheating regimen was substandard, and that he addressed this by hiring some real pros. I would say that any assistant football coach stupid enough to get photographed in a nightclub partying with one of his players and a big money booster is stupid enough to be fired, illicit benefits or no. In today's NCAA environment, that kind of thing is right up there with a personalized Chip Kelly thank you note in the pantheon of smart people doing dumb thngs. It's just bound to come back and bite you in the ass.
In case you missed it, much of Shapiro's vaguely pathetic pandering to a group of teenage manchildren occurred while Miami's athletic director was a gentleman named Paul Dee. Paul Dee wasalso the head of the NCAA's infractions committee at the time. There would be a joke in here about glass houses and specks in eyes and such, were it not for the fact that Dee presided over a period in which the infractions committee rarely if ever went after anyone. Instead, it now appears that having Paul Dee as infractions czar was on par with the U.N. naming a representative from Iran to the nuclear policy committee and reps from China and North Korea to the human rights panel. Both of which the U.N. actually did.
Yahoo!'s Charles Robinson joins Jim Cantore on the list of very nice gentlemen who you should be freaked the hell out to see standing on your front lawn. 'Cause either way there's a storm brewing.
You know who I really feel sorry for? Al Golden. Seriously, I cannot imagine that he took the Miami job after being told the extent of these shenanigans. It's simply not plausible to me. Were I the former Temple coach, I would have begun my day by storming into Donna Shalala's office and breaking things. Because really, how much less trust could you have in an employment situation?
Shapiro was arrested in April of 2010, so you'd think that someone from Tha U would have noticed that the guy they named the Athletic Lounge for was on trial in federal court, and said to the compliance folks "Hey, why don't you send Junior the new guy down there to keep an eye on things, see if anything we need to know about comes up." I don't know which is worse, the notion that Miami didn't know about these allegations, or the notion that they knew about them and might not have told Golden about them during the hiring process. Either way, were the world a just place (which it's not, as A.J. Green, Albert Hollis and a lot of other Bulldogs will tell you) Al Golden would be given the option of walking away from Miami's smoldering pit of destruction at the end of the year with his buyout torn up and his future before him.
Speaking of smoldering pits of destruction, shockingly, Miami's may not be as deep as some think. Based solely upon Yahoo!'s reporting I don't think the death penalty is on the table here. Remember, SMU only got the ultimate sanction after getting caught paying players from an institutional slush fund, telling the NCAA they would stop, and then making surreptitious payments to players all the same. That's a double-barrelled FU to the NCAA. Miami may have been lax, but there's no evidence that anyone within the university structure beyond the coaching level was involved. Basketball coach Frank Haith was implicated as having some knowledge, but he's already gone to Missouri and seems to be cooperating with the boys in Indy.
All of which is to say that based solely on what has been reported up to now, I don't think Miami's getting the death penalty because theirs is a "rogue booster" case, not a "rogue administrator" case. While the NCAA rulebook largely makes the two synonymous for purposes of determining whether a violation has been committed (using the torturous term "representative of a school's athletic interest"), I think it's a distinction with real implications for the punishment stage of the game.
I do, however, believe that there is more to come on this story in the days ahead. And while I don't know that the Canes are in line for SMU level smiting, I think they are in line for the type of post-Albert Means level Alabama sanctions that set the Tide back years. The difference is that Miami's alleged booster-run-amok was working on a scale that Logan Young never dreamed of. Which means that while there may be no difference in quality of infraction, the sheer quantity of violations alleged in the Shapiro case may make this a whole different animal.
Another consideration is the fact that Shapiro was a partner in the ironically named
Improper Axcess Sports, a sports agency that actually signed up Miami football players to representation agreements. That does look pretty bad for Miami compliance, as having one of the principals of a sports agent hanging around players seems like one of those situations just bound to go wrong eventually. Charles Robinson also said this afternoon during a radio interview that at one point during Virginia's 48-0, November 2007 blowout of Miami in the Orange Bowl, Shapiro actually had a press box confrontation with the director of the Hurricane compliance staff, and that the information he had was that Miami compliance was trying to limit Shapiro's direct involvement with players. To use a journalistic cliche, I think that means that we have to ask what the Miami compliance staff knew, when did they know it, and what was their response? Those will be key questions going forward as the NCAA considers the dreaded "lack of institutional control" tag. There are a variety of ways to get that label, and the early word on Shapiro's intricate involvement in Miami athletics make its application to this case seem not only plausible, but likely
This one's gonna get interesting and stay interesting, gang. [birdwithoperaglassesandpopcorn.jpeg goes here].
*Please for the love of all things holy tell me that there's no such thing as a band of The Darkness impersonators. Please, oh please.