Shortly after the NCAA (finally) announced its sanctions on the Miami football program earlier this week, the university confirmed that it would not appeal either the Committee on Infraction’s findings or the punitive measures.
That doesn’t mean, however, that The U won’t be looking to lessen the severity of one facet of the penalties.
Athletic director Blake James told the Miami Herald that he’s hopeful the nine scholarships the football program will lose over the next three years will be lessened based on UM’s actions in the years leading up to the sanctions. Specifically, the Herald writes, the school “already had begun making ‘internal adjustments’ to keep its scholarship numbers down with the hope of either receiving credit for it from the NCAA or being in a position where the losses wouldn’t be devastating when sanctions finally hit.”
By the paper’s count, the Hurricanes would have 82 players on scholarship for 2014, based on a current roster of 75 scholarship players and with 19 seniors exiting following the 2013 season and 26 non-binding verbal commitments for the next recruiting class. That number, of course, is a moving target as players could leave for the NFL early or get dismissed from the team or suffer career-ending injuries or myriad other reasons.
The fact that Miami, for whatever reason, did not bring up the scholarship issue when they appeared before the COI has baffled one of the foremost authorities on NCAA bylaws and compliance issues.
“I really struggle to see the logic in this kind of secret scholarship restriction they may have imposed,” former compliance officer John Infante said. “The only reason I would think you would do it is because you wanted to sort of naturally get your scholarship numbers down instead of having a very small recruiting class once the sanctions hit.
“I don’t even know what kind of process it would serve to say, ‘Here’s this thing we did, we didn’t bring it up in the case, we’re not really appealing, but we still want you to consider it.’ That’s not really how appeals work or the reconsideration of how a penalty works. If you didn’t bring that up then I think you’ve kind of lost that opportunity.”
The university has apparently already been in contact with the NCAA regarding the scholarship issue as a source told the paper that there is no timeline for when The U will hear back from The Association. Obviously, the school is hoping for a determination one way or another before National Signing Day early next February.