Al Golden said earlier this week that he was hoping to hear from the NCAA by Thursday regarding the eligibility of a number of his football players. Golden indeed got his wish, although it’s likely not the answer he was hoping for.
The most recognizable name on the list of eight is quarterback Jacory Harris, who is one of five players who will be forced to sit out the opener. The NCAA alleged that Harris received more than $140 in benefits from meals, entertainment, transportation and nightclub cover charges.
The stiffest sanctions were levied on defensive end Olivier Vernon, who will be forced to sit the first six games of the year. The NCAA found that the lineman had received $1,200 in impermissible benefits during his recruitment from former UM booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro. In their statement, the NCAA alleged that those recruitment benefits included meals, transportation, access to Shapiro’s game suite, drinks, as well as cover charges at two different nightclubs, among others.
Safety Ray-Ray Armstrong and tight end Dyron Dye were each suspended for the first four games for impermissible benefits they received during their recruitment. Armstrong received approximately $788 in extra benefits from Shapiro and athletics personnel during his recruitment. Dye received approximately $738. These benefits for both players included five nights of impermissible lodging from institutional staff during their unofficial visits, transportation, multiple meals, and entertainment at a gentleman’s club.
Defensive lineman Marcus Forston, linebacker Sean Spence, defensive lineman Adewale Ojomo and wide receiver Travis Benjamin were each suspended for one game apiece. From the release:
Forston received more than $400 in extra benefits from Shapiro and athletic personnel, including athletic equipment, meals, nightclub cover charges and entertainment at a gentleman’s club. Spence received approximately $275 in benefits, including meals, transportation, as well as cover charges and entertainment at a gentleman’s club. Ojomo received $240 in extra benefits, including a meal and nightclub cover charges. Benjamin received more than $150 in extra benefits, including meals and entertainment.
All of the players must make restitution as a condition of their reinstatement.
Harris, Vernon, Armstrong, Forston, Spence, Ojomo and Benjamin were all listed as starters or co-starters on the Hurricanes’ most recent depth chart. All seven will miss at least the opener Monday against Maryland.
“The NCAA has informed the University of Miami of their decisions regarding the reinstatement of eight student-athletes who were declared ineligible by the University last week,” Miami athletics director Shawn Eichorst said in a statement. “The student-athletes involved have acknowledged receiving improper benefits and will now be responsible for restitution and, in some cases, the student-athletes will also serve game suspensions. They understand that their actions demand consequences.
“This university has the highest standards in all of our academic and athletic endeavors. We will remain steadfast in our commitment to continue to build winning programs with the utmost of integrity. We will be more vigilant in our compliance and continue to work with the NCAA on the joint investigation to determine the facts.
“We appreciate the diligence and understanding of the NCAA staff and its handling of the student-athlete eligibility issues in an expeditious manner. I would also like to thank Coach [Al] Golden and his staff for their professionalism and leadership over the past few weeks.”
It should be noted that the NCAA’s decision on the player’s eligibility is separate from their broader investigation into the allegations levied against Miami’s football program and any sanctions that could be slapped on the school.
In the school’s release on the development, it was noted that Brandon McGee, JoJo Nicholas, Micanor Regis and Vaughn Telemaque “have been cleared by the NCAA to participate in all competition though each must make repayment in the amount of less than $100 for receiving impermissible benefits”, as well as Marcus Robinson being cleared of any NCAA violations and will not face any penalties.