We covered down this Miami scandal from the front pretty well yesterday as folks soaked in the grand magnitude of it all. To follow up the quick examination of the Shapiro situation and our podcast with Bomani Jones we're turning the page today.
Yes, we all know about the prostitution, the cash changing hands, the clubs, the abortion, the coaches implicated and the presence of Nevin Shapiro in the Miami booster community.
The next step is guessing what happens next. Where does this investigation go from here? What sort of punishment should we expect from the NCAA?
First of all we oughta know not to expect anything quick, North Carolina's complied beyond and above what was expected of the Heels and they're still months away from their hearing. Ohio State, outside of their own self sanction and the initial suspensions, has yet to receive anything remotely close to a punishment. Given the depth of this investigation and the number of moving parts we should not expect any sort of a definitive ruling quickly.
Secondly, stop bringing up specific instances that you see as "egregious" in all of this. Stop thinking in terms of prostitution, bottle service, hotel suites and yacht usage. I get that those things are glamorous. At best they come across as amazingly self-indulgent while when viewed in the worst light they're depraved and degenerate acts. Prostitution? Abortion? Burn them to the ground! Bounties and cash payments for big plays? They are endangering other athletes!
This isn't me agreeing or disagreeing with you but the fact is you've got to cut that out. What it comes down to is an itemized list of benefits. Sure it is somewhat problematic to think about creating a player by player "receipt" of sorts for the "benefits" they received but in the end of it all that's what it is. Is it fun to think about it that way? No. But when the Miami Notice of Allegations comes out you can expect to see a 'roided out version of this.
Now that the benefits get translated to cash there is another big part of this investigation that must be taken into consideration.
The other big thing to remember is while Charles Robinson did a fantastic job on his report what the NCAA is able to actually prove beyond just rumors of "Jacory Harris was at the club" or "Sean Spence visited his house" will be critical in which players are actually charged with what crimes. Let's also not forget that NFL guys like Vince Wilfork and Jon Beason do not have to cooperate with the NCAA on this and that makes substantiating cash exchanges quite difficult.
That's not to say it didn't happen but rather that they cannot prove that it ever took place beyond Shapiro's word. Call me crazy but I'm not interested in seeing the NCAA get into the business of just taking someone's word without being able to actually prove something took place.
In that same vein Clint Hurtt, Jeff Stoutland, Joe Pannunzio and Aubrey Hill, the coaches involved in the scandal, will have a chance to tell their side of the story. This has a chance to get very ugly and when you throw in the prospective Miami athletes involved in the recruiting wing of the scandal and how they are called in by the NCAA to verify Shapiro's accounts there is a lot left to prove for the folks investigating.
Now we get to the vogue term that comes out of everyone's mouth; The Death Penalty.
When North Carolina's NOA dropped people floated the death penalty out there. As Ohio State saw Jim Tressel implicated in the violations people kicked out the death penalty. This week it has happened again; anytime folks hear about major violations the death penalty is the no brainer response.
A overview of the death penalty because judging from twitter responses I'm not even 100% sure that everyone even knows what it is at this point. At the root the death penalty is the suspension of the program for a season or more. In SMU's case, the most popular death penalty example, that meant no games but the players were allowed to "practice" but only "conditioning drills" in shorts, no pads. Players were allowed to transfer without penalty and it essentially resulted in a roster devoid of talent and while the the 1988 team was technically allowed to compete, without home games, SMU elected to cancel that season as well because of the crippling inability to field anything close to a team.
It should be noted that SMU got a 1 year "death penalty" not 3 because of the schools compliance with NCAA investigators.
While SMU is the most widely noted case there have been four other instances of the death penalty being levied; 1952-1953 Kentucky basketball, 1973-1975 Southwestern Louisiana basketball, 2003 Morehouse College soccer and 2005-2007 MacMurray College tennis. All men's sports.
Kentucky was a result of point shaving scandal. Southwestern Louisiana's penalty came as the result of forged high school transcripts, academic fraud and extra benefits. Morehouse College's sentence was brought on by playing former professional soccer players for two seasons; including contests "pre-enrollment" AND the school's athletic department not even recognizing soccer was a sport they had on campus. At MacMurray College, a Division Three school, the punishment came after the coach gave scholarships to 10 foreign players, scholarships that Division Three does not allow in sports.
The point to note in all of this? SMU is the only school on this list that got banged with the death penalty exclusively due to extra benefits. Point shaving, forged transcripts and academic records, using pro players at the collegiate level and illegal scholarships drew the other four sentences.
For Miami; even with the coaches involved, even with the wide spectrum of grand violations, even with Shapiro being deeply embedded in Miami's athletic culture, this is an extra benefits scandal. Plenty of legs to it with the moving parts involved but at the root this is about guys receiving extra benefits while coaches and administrators allowed the reception of the perks.
Egregious rule break? Certainly, but it is a pretty straight forward issue. Hell, it isn't even North Carolina with the multi-faceted investigation in regards to extra benefits, the tutors employment, a coach being employed by an agent and academic fraud. It pains me to say it but when you're talking about what looks worse you're picking between one school allowing a large scale of extra benefits and a school where academic fraud, a shaky tutor-coach-players relationship, an on-staff agent and extra benefits come into play. One is extremely "fancy" but the other has more faces to the issues.
As I said yesterday I'm not in favor of the death penalty, for one I don't think it works. I'm not sure how one can look at college football in the decade following SMU; Oklahoma, Washington, Miami, Florida State for example, and argue that it was an effective deterrent. I don't fall into the Gregg Doyel category of saying the NCAA is "too scared" to levy the punishment, rather I don't think it is warranted.
So, outside of the death penalty what can the NCAA do to police Miami and sate this public bloodlust for "justice" being served?
Obviously we're looking at probation, scholarship reductions and bowl bans to begin with. That's a given in this case provided the evidence presented is substantiated. Lengthy probationary period where the Canes are subject to intense review and scrutiny.
Heavy scholarship sanctions levied over more than the fairly standard three year period we've seen at Miami in 1995 and USC 2010. Not more than 10 scholarships taken a year but an extended timeframe where The U can only grab 15 players to field their roster. As for the post-season ban, which would include the ACC Championship Game that they will most likely continue to not be playing in, we'd see it extended beyond two or three seasons.
What else is out there?
The TV ban that folks talk about will likely never happen again. Too much damage to a conference, like it or not the television contracts being wrapped up in conference revenue are major role players in the health of not just a team but the league itself.
One thing I've heard, first from Adam Gold from ESPN 99.9, was the idea of taking away home contests from Miami. The team is allowed to fulfill their television obligations to their league, their kids are allowed to play but they are financially punished as an institution for their wrong doing. Something that is a far more effective deterrent than say, um, vacating games.
In keeping in the financial realm of punishment there is the idea of having the school pay a substantial fine. Georgia Tech just took on this punishment and at a school like Miami that isn't exactly flush with cash they would undoubtedly feel the pain of being asked to fork over large sums of money.
With regards to the coaches and administrators the most important thing they can do for those implicated here isn't firing them, rather it is slapping them with a show-cause status. The same thing that keeps Kelvin Sampson out of college basketball and was used on Todd McNair, Willie Anderson of Oklahoma State and kept Todd Bozeman out of college basketball for years.
The "show-cause" status means that for the time period specified, 5 years with Sampson, 1 with McNair, 12 with Anderson and 8 for Bozeman, any school that desires to employee this coach must "show-cause" as to why their institution should not be punished for employing the coach in question.
That would effectively end the collegiate careers of the Hurtt, Hill, Pannunzio and Stoutland. While the charge has never been used within the administrative ranks, with all the signs pointing pointing to issues traveling to the upper echelons of the University of Miami, now might be the time to make a point to show "how serious" the NCAA is taking things.
There are options out there and plenty of ways for the NCAA to cripple Miami without killing them with the death penalty. They can punish the offenders, send a message that will, depending upon your belief in punishment as a deterrent, show people they are taking this quite seriously.
I guess now is the time to say this, if only the death penalty will satisfy your thirst for The U's blood you might have hope. As it stands now the school would not fall into the repeat offender category that trapped Southern Methodist BUT as Pat Forde points out, it most certainly could. In 2003 Miami baseball was slapped with a 2 year probation due to violations that occurred in 1999. Should the NCAA extend this current Miami football investigation back to its point of origin in 2001 they would also fall into the 2003-2005 window. That might be what you people need to get your much coveted death penalty.