The NCAA yesterday delivered what "appeared to be a gift" to the Univ. of Miami in the case involving "rogue booster and convicted Ponzi-schemer Nevin Shapiro -- after keeping the Hurricanes in limbo for more than two and a half years," according to Miller Degnan, Kaufman & Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. UM's football program "will lose nine scholarships over a three-year probationary period and will not be penalized [with] another postseason ban." UM indicated that it "would not appeal the sanctions." NCAA President Mark Emmert in February said that the organization "improperly obtained information from the attorney for Shapiro." The NCAA's punishment "could have been much worse for UM had the organization not discarded 'about 20 percent' of all the evidence in the case because some of it had been improperly gathered" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/23). In Miami, Greg Cote writes, "It feels like the Hurricanes are free again." The NCAA's verdict was "happily anticlimactic, the additional punishment sort of a punch on the arm more than a baseball bat to the head." The NCAA "did so much wrong in this investigation," but yesterday "in its restraint, the NCAA got it right" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/23). Also in Miami, Jay Weaver in a front-page piece writes UM "caught a big break" when the NCAA discarded the improperly gathered evidence (MIAMI HERALD, 10/23). The MIAMI HERALD's Linda Robertson writes UM "discreetly declined to spike a football in the end zone but did breathe a sigh of relief" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/23). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dieter Kurtenbach writes fans "shouldn't expect the NCAA's sanctions to affect" UM on National Signing Day in February '14 (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/23).
COMPARE & CONTRAST: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Rachel Bachman writes the sanctions "were relatively light considering the breadth and duration of Miami's violations." They are "less severe" than those delivered to USC in '10. The NCAA in its report said it "only considered information obtained appropriately during the investigative process and presented at the hearing." The end of the investigation "comes amid a difficult time for the NCAA" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/23). In L.A., Scott Wolf writes UM "was not slapped on the wrist," but instead "got tapped on the finger" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/23). NCAA Infractions Committee Chair Britton Banowsky said of comparing UM's penalties to USC's, "We don't do a great deal of comparative analysis" (USA TODAY, 10/23).
FAIR IS FAIR: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman in a front-page piece writes under the header, "UM President Donna Shalala Lauded For Handling Of NCAA Investigation." Shalala "drew on her experience as a shrewd politician throughout the 2 1/2-year saga, calculating every move with the help of her legal staff." She "firmly stood her ground from the start." Shalala said, "While we would have preferred just to get the sanctions already imposed, having read the report and gone through the hearing, I think what they gave us was fair" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/23). UM AD Blake James said of the sanctions, "It was in line with what I expected. ... Credit to President Shalala and the tremendous leadership she gave throughout the entire process." He added of steps taken to ease concerns raised by the investigation, "The biggest one being the educational component from the compliance perspective, not only of our student-athletes, coaches, administration and staff but that of our fans, alums, donors, just in the community." James said of lessons learned throughout the process, "We have to have people understand the importance of being in compliance with the association's rules" (ESPN.com, 10/22).
DAMAGED REPUTATION? SI.com's Stewart Mandel wrote the NCAA can "finally move on from a saga that damaged its reputation both publicly and within the business" (SI.com, 10/22). But ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel wrote under the header, "NCAA The Big Loser In Miami Case" (ESPN.com, 10/22). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes UM was "helped by the Inspector Clouseaus at the NCAA running an investigation that bordered on criminal." If the NCAA "hadn't screwed up the investigation to the point the lead investigator and enforcement head were fired, would Miami be so relieved today?" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/23). ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil wrote the NCAA "has all but jumped the shark now." Every time the NCAA "opens its figurative mouth these days, it only reiterates what a bungled organization it has become" (ESPN.com, 10/22). SPORTING NEWS' Matt Hayes wrote under the header, "From All Sides, Miami Case Is Textbook Embarrassment" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 10/22). ESPN's Danny Kanell said it is "just another black eye for the NCAA," as it has "already lost a ton of credibility the last few years" ("College Football Live," ESPN2, 10/22). FOXSPORTS.com's Greg Couch wrote, "There is no governing body in college sports anymore." The "wreck of this investigation tore down NCAA morale, turned its enforcement division into a shambles and created internal hard feelings" toward Emmert. People have been "cheering on the NCAA’s demise for years," and now they "got what they want" (FOXSPORTS.com, 10/22). ESPN's Colin Cowherd said it "feels like the NCAA just makes it up as they go" and there is "no rhyme or reason to their decisions" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 10/22). CBSSPORTS.com's Dennis Dodd wrote the NCAA will be "forever shamed for its multiple missteps in the case" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/22). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel asked, "How can the NCAA claim its rulebook is anything but a puff of magic smoke at this point?" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/22).
NOT YOUR FATHER'S NCAA: USA TODAY's Dan Wolken writes this "might not be the NCAA of old, where schools feared TV bans and even the death penalty in these kinds of cases." Lawyers who "specialize in fighting the NCAA these days are too good, the NCAA's investigative division too weak and the public's blood lust to bring down cheaters has lessened considerably." Just because it "could have been worse doesn't mean it wasn't bad" (USA TODAY, 10/23). CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman said the case leaves the NCAA "in a crumbled heap." Feldman: "The NCAA was afraid. They were already neck deep in lawsuits all over the place -- Donna Shalala went after them unlike any other administrator I have ever seen. They were afraid of a lawsuit from her and I think they backed down. They knew they were going to take their lumps from every different corner, and that’s what’s happened. The NCAA is so powerless now compared to where it was four years ago when this thing first started” ("Rome," CBSSN, 10/22).