Posted by Adam Jacobi
Of the dozens of Miami players named in Yahoo's now-infamous report from disgraced embezzler and Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, detailing a massive pattern of illegal benefits given to players over a period of nine years, 12 are still with the Hurricanes, awaiting word on the fate of their eligibility. That's a situation without a whole lot of extra time to be resolved, as the Hurricanes open up play just nine days from Thursday.
[MORE: Twelve current Miami players named in report]
To that end, the Miami Herald is reporting that all 12 players are expected to be named ineligible by the university soon -- but with a better resolution in mind:
If it hasn’t already, the University of Miami is expected to declare the 12 or more football players being investigated by the NCAA ineligible within the next week if the school wants the NCAA to rule on their reinstatement in time for the season opener Sept. 5 at Maryland.
UM had not declared the players ineligible as of early Wednesday afternoon, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.
This is, if nothing else, a precautionary step; by declaring the players ineligible, the school puts the players' fate in the hands of the NCAA rather than putting the players on the field and rolling the dice with NCAA penalties. The one single way Miami could face the most severe penalties from here on out is if the team knowingly lets players with eligibility problems compete anyway (look what knowingly putting Terrell Pryor and his friends back onto the field in 2010 did to Jim Tressel and Ohio State, for example). With a declaration of ineligibility for all players involved, Miami demonstrates a proper respect for NCAA rules and protocol.
Moreover, as the Herald article explains, the sooner these players are ruled ineligible, the more likely it is the NCAA rules on their punishment before the September 5 season opener against Maryland, which is the first day that ineligibility would truly matter. For example, as astute fans will recall, Cam Newton was declared ineligible by Auburn last season. Auburn quietly made the designation on the Tuesday prior to the SEC Championship Game, then happily announced Newton's reinstatement by the NCAA the very next day. While it's unlikely any of the 'Canes receive similar one-day vacations from eligibility, a ruling and subsequent course of punishment could come similarly quickly from the NCAA, and then at the very least the process back to the field will have begun for the players involved.
It's important to note that rulings on individual eligibility are separate from the NCAA's investigation into institutions, so even if the 12 players get their situations worked out within the next week or two, Miami itself is still in for what's probably a lengthy investigation. Here's more from the Herald:
Stacey Osburn, the NCAA’s associate director of public and media relations, told The Miami Herald in a phone interview that she could not comment on any specific cases, but elaborated on aspects of the process. In a reinstatement situation, any decision involves only that specific player and the facts presented. It is separate from the overall investigation of the institution, although if it is later found that a reinstatement decision is based on lies told by an athlete, the institution is subject to more severe penalties.
Still, as mentioned before, the 12 players don't have the luxury of waiting even two weeks (much less until the end of the investigation) before they need to have their eligibility resolved, so if and when Miami declares them all ineligible, it gets the ball rolling on putting them all back on the field, and it's therefore for their own good.