In a recently-completed teleconference that was short on meat and long on, well, not a whole heck of a lot, there was one very obvious takeaway: Miami’s reaction and actions in the wake of allegations of a booster’s impermissible benefits went a long, long way with the NCAA.
The Committee on Infractions fielded questions from the media shortly after the release of sanctions imposed on the Hurricane football program, with a sizable chunk of the questions centering on the penalties imposed on The U — nine scholarships lost over three years, three-year probation, no further bowl ban chief among them — and how the committee settled on them.
Essentially, in a case described by committee chairperson Britton Banowsky as “among the most extraordinary in the history of the NCAA,” Miami’s cooperation throughout the investigation when combined with the self-imposed penalties led the committee to its decision. The university had imposed a two-year bowl ban, which actually cost the football program three postseason appearances — and the money that comes along with it — as the Hurricanes would’ve represented the Coastal division in the ACC championship game.
It was intimated that the fact that UM’s self-imposed bowl ban cost them an ACC title game appearance kept the committee from tacking on an additional postseason-less year on the Hurricanes. Banowsky went so far as to label the penalties Miami imposed on itself as “unprecedented.”
What many deemed as a “slap on the wrist” — those people fail to acknowledge the damage already done to the program over the past three years — came despite the committee’s own damning words.
While Miami lacked institutional control related to the conduct of the booster, it also lacked adequate policies and procedures for staff members to report potential violations without fear of consequence. Miami did not have the policies or monitoring systems to detect improper text messages and phone calls. Many staff members did not have basic knowledge of NCAA recruiting rules or felt comfortable breaking them, and the university did not have sufficient rules education in place. Had the university properly monitored its sports programs, especially the high-profile sports of football and men’s basketball, it may have identified risks sooner. The committee added that the failings of the university enabled a culture of noncompliance within the university and resulted in a lack of institutional control.
The elephant in the room, however, was the botched investigation.
A handful of NCAA enforcement personnel lost their jobs as a direct result of their actions in the Miami probe, actions that went against NCAA protocol in obtaining evidence and information. Banowsky claimed during the teleconference that the missteps in the probe, which fell outside the COI’s purview, played no role in the level of sanctions that were handed down; most observers, however, feel the COI had no choice but to go “light” on the punitive measures because of how badly the investigation was handled.