Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - After nearly five years of investigations, interviews, reports and hearings, the Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes were finally handed punishment from the NCAA on Tuesday.
Turns out it wasn't all that bad. If anything, it was of a slap on the wrist as compared to what many thought might be a crippling blow.
The football program will lose nine scholarships in the next three years, when it also will serve a probationary period. On top of the football provisions, the Hurricanes also will be affected on the hardwood. The basketball program will lose three scholarships and Frank Haith, who was the head coach of Miami's basketball squad from 2004-11 and is now leading Missouri, will serve a five- game suspension.
In the official release from the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, the committee stated there were 18 separate general allegations as well as issues linked to a booster, presumably Nevin Shapiro, from 2001-08.
The report also read, "The committee acknowledged and accepted the extensive and significant self-imposed penalties by the university".
Those self-imposed penalties included a bowl ban for the Hurricanes each of the last two seasons, a fate it will not have to face again.
While the report did not specifically state the committee's decisions were influenced by Miami's own penalties, it is clear that in some way they were. After all, Miami did not publicly denounce the investigation, attempt to cover anything up or continue to go about its business as if it had done nothing wrong.
As far as can be told, the Hurricanes were as cooperative as possible and took steps to ensure it was clear just how seriously they were taking the allegations.
Was it a savvy move to perhaps earn some sympathy and public relation points? Perhaps. Was it a preemptive strike by a program hoping to get out in front of a mess it created? Most definitely.
That doesn't change the fact the Miami investigation was handled in a different and better manner than those in the past. Better than USC or Penn State or Ohio State.
Speaking of Penn State, nearly a month ago it was dealt a more favorable hand pertaining to its own penalties. Suddenly the once iron-clad fist of the NCAA is beginning to show some fading strength. It's a view that some have already taken to, including USC athletic director Pat Haden.
"We have always felt that our penalties were too harsh," Haden said via the USC athletic department's Twitter account. "This decision only bolsters that view."
Haden may be right about his program's circumstance, but it doesn't change what the ruling against Miami may be showing.
The NCAA is finally coming to the understanding that punishing current and future players for the actions of past coaches, administrators and, in Miami's case, boosters is not the way to handle these situations.
That is not to say the NCAA has found the right level of punishment. Illegal recruiting strategies and flat out cheating can not be tolerated to the ridiculous level that has become the norm in major college athletics. There are still programs around the country utilizing similar practices that got Miami, USC and Ohio State pinched. Anyone who thinks this matter was cleaned up entirely, or that these punishments will be the precedent going forward, is kidding themselves.
However, the fact remains, Shapiro and other boosters lured players to Miami with money and extravagance, and past coaches and administrators ignored the wrongdoing that was rampant at Miami. However, no player on the roster today fell into that trap just like none of the names listed on the Penn State roster had anything to do with the monstrous actions of a few terrible men years ago.
The same goes for the coaches of each program. Al Golden came to Miami after resurrecting a once-dead program at Temple. Golden spurned interest from some other programs during his five years in Philadelphia before finally taking on the job at Miami.
Then what greeted him? Bowl bans and shaky recruiting positioning.
That didn't make a difference for Golden, just as it didn't for Bill O'Brien at Penn State. Each of Golden's first two seasons would have ended in bowl trips for the Hurricanes if not for their self-imposed bans. This year, even with the NCAA investigation hanging over their heads all offseason and during the first half of the campaign, the Hurricanes have sprinted out to a 6-0 mark and their highest AP ranking since 2005.
"I just think it's a situation that's out of our hands, and let's control the things that we can control," Golden said prior to this season's first game against FAU.
Going forward, Golden can take full control of this program. Losing nine scholarships will hurt, but for a program that would normally get the NCAA limit of 85, it won't be a crushing blow. Especially considering Golden has transformed Miami back into a team that will compete for ACC titles year in and year out once again. In other words, "The U" is, for the most part, back.