Miami Is Spared Bowl Ban by NCAA After Booster Investigation

The University of Miami’s football team was spared a bowl ban following a four-year investigation by the National Collegiate Athletic Association into a decade of benefits provided by a booster.

Miami, which held itself out of bowl games for the past two college football seasons while under investigation, will lose three football scholarships and one basketball scholarship in each of the next three years, the NCAA said in an e-mailed news release.

Frank Haith, a former Hurricanes men’s basketball coach now at Missouri, was given a five-game suspension, and three former assistant coaches in football and basketball were each given two-year show-cause penalties.

The NCAA said it found that the Coral Gables, Florida-based school “lacked institutional control when it did not monitor the activities of a major booster, the men’s basketball and football coaching staffs, student-athletes and prospects for a decade.”

“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,” the governing body of college sports said in the statement. “Approximately 30 student-athletes were involved.”

Miami said in an e-mailed news release that it was “grateful to the committee for a fair and thorough hearing.” It said it wouldn’t appeal the NCAA’s decision.

‘High Ideals’

“The University of Miami moves forward today stronger and rededicated to the high ideals that have always sustained it,” Leonard Abess, chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees, said in a statement. “I am proud of our leadership and staff, who conducted themselves throughout this process with integrity, forthrightness, and in the spirit of full cooperation.”

Miami notified the NCAA in November 2009 of an internal investigation into potential violations. The inquiry became public in August 2011 when Yahoo Sports said booster Nevin Shapiro, who was imprisoned for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme, provided thousands of impermissible benefits, such as cars and yacht rides, to at least 72 athletes from 2002 to 2010.

Britton Banowsky, the commissioner of Conference USA who serves as chairman of the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions, said the “sheer volume of the case was enormous.”

Investigation Length

“Typically, we’re able to turn around reports in a six- to eight-week period of time, which is what we hoped to do,” Banowsky said on a conference call with reporters. “Unfortunately, the case not only lasted three-plus years in the investigation stage but also had a lot of complexities to it that were extraordinary.”

Miami raised questions regarding the NCAA enforcement staff’s use of Shapiro’s attorney to obtain information from depositions conducted in the booster’s bankruptcy case, the association said in January. All information stemming from those depositions were excluded from consideration by the infractions committee.

“I know the COI was disappointed to learn of the use of the bankruptcy proceedings to obtain information to be used in the case,” Banowsky said. “It also forced a process to ensure that the parties had the opportunity to raise concerns over it and it certainly didn’t factor into the penalty.”

Shapiro had 100 hours of jailhouse interviews with Yahoo in which the website said he told of giving athletes cash, jewelry, prostitutes, travel and bounties for on-field performance. Shapiro also gave the school $150,000 for an athletic lounge.

The Hurricanes’ football team is 6-0 this season, ranked seventh in the initial Bowl Championship Series standings.

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