Miami calls for ‘no additional punitive measures’ from NCAA

41 Comments

Released earlier today, the independent report into the NCAA’s mishandling of certain aspects of the investigation into the Miami football program seemingly left many more questions than it delivered answers.

Information obtained outside of normal NCAA protocol will be tossed out, as expected, but those hoping for a quasi-mistrial were disappointed as The Association confirmed that the process of investigating allegations of impermissible benefits will go forward.  A scathing response to the report’s findings and the NCAA’s insistence on continuing the probe, though, suggests the university will continue its push for a resolution in the case that comes sooner rather than later and with no additional sanctions — or else.

In Donna Shalala’s scorched-earth statement blasting, in essence, the NCAA’s ineptness, the UM president accused the NCAA of not living “up to their own core principles” in what she described as an “already-flawed investigation” highlighted by “a disappointing pattern of unprofessional and unethical behavior.”  Stressing that there “must be a strong sense of urgency to bring this to closure,” Shalala stated unequivocally that “we believe that this process must come to a swift resolution, which includes no additional punitive measures beyond those already self-imposed.”

Each of the past two seasons, Miami has self-imposed a postseason ban on the football program.

The intimation from Shalala, of course, is that the NCAA could face litigation down the road if further sanctions are imposed.  It’s unclear exactly how the NCAA will react to what’s essentially a (well-deserved) threat from one of its members.

Regardless, below is the full text of Shalala’s statement:

The University takes full responsibility for the conduct of its employees and student-athletes.  Where the evidence of NCAA violations has been substantiated, we have self-imposed appropriate sanctions, including unilaterally eliminating once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for our students and coaches over the past two years, and disciplining and withholding players from competition. 

We believe strongly in the principles and values of fairness and due process. However, we have been wronged in this investigation, and we believe that this process must come to a swift resolution, which includes no additional punitive measures beyond those already self-imposed.

In September 2010—two and a half years ago—the University of Miami advised the NCAA of allegations made by a convicted felon against former players and, at that time, we pledged our full cooperation with any investigation into the matter.  One year later, in August 2011, when the NCAA’s investigation into alleged rules violations was made public, I pledged we would ‘vigorously pursue the truth, wherever that path may lead’ and insisted upon ‘complete, honest, and transparent cooperation with the NCAA from our staff and students.’

The University of Miami has lived up to those promises, but sadly the NCAA has not lived up to their own core principles.  The lengthy and already flawed investigation has demonstrated a disappointing pattern of unprofessional and unethical behavior.  By the NCAA leadership’s own admission, the University of Miami has suffered from inappropriate practices by NCAA staff.   There have also been damaging leaks to the media of unproven charges.  Regardless of where blame lies internally with the NCAA, even one individual, one act, one instance of malfeasance both taints the entire process and breaches the public’s trust. 

There must be a strong sense of urgency to bring this to closure.  Our dedicated staff and coaches, our outstanding student-athletes, and our supporters deserve nothing less.

Report: Maryland AD signed off on DJ Durkin helping coaches, developing game plans during leave

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The cloud hanging over the University of Maryland in general and the football program specifically shows no signs of dissipating anytime soon.

Citing multiple sources, the Baltimore Sun‘s Jeff Barker is reporting that DJ Durkin told the task force investigating the culture of the football program in the aftermath of the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair that he “continued to communicate with assistant coaches and develop game plans for the team after being placed on administrative leave.” Most damning, at least for those still in place at the university, the then-head football coach alleged that athletic director Damon Evans approved the ongoing communication with his coaching staff.

Durkin further claimed that he had not been told by anyone at the university that he was to have no contact with his players or assistant coaches while on leave, a forced sabbatical that ultimately lasted nearly three months.

While the university declined to make Evans available for comment, a spokesperson did deny the allegations made by Durkin to the task force, of which the university system’s Board of Regents were also aware.  From the Sun‘s report:

But in a statement late Wednesday, a university spokeswoman said Durkin “was not to perform coaching duties while on administrative leave” and that neither Evans nor Loh had granted permission for him to do so.

“Matt Canada was performing all head coaching duties during this interim time and continues to lead the team,” spokeswoman Jessica Jennings said.

Durkin, two members of the training staff and then-head strength & conditioning coach Rick Court were placed on administrative leave in early August after a bombshell report alleged mishandling of the medical event that preceded McNair’s death as well as a toxic culture within the football program.  That report described the toxic culture under Durkin as one based on fear, intimidation, belittling, humiliation and embarrassment.  Players were, allegedly, routinely subjected to what was described as extreme verbal abuse that included, in part, obscenity-laced epithets meant to mock their masculinity.

On Oct. 30, it was confirmed that Durkin had been reinstated and would remain as the Terrapins head coach.  The next day, and amidst an avalanche of criticism from football playersstudent groups and high-ranking government officials, U of M, College Park president Wallace Loh announced that Durkin had been dismissed as the Terrapins head football coach.

Miami pays Arkansas State $400,000 settlement over canceled game

Getty Images
1 Comment

A legal issue that arose between a Power Five school and one from the Group of Five has finally been resolved.

The Miami-Arkansas State game in Jonesboro last season was scuttled by Hurricane Irma, mainly because of The U’s concerns over traveling back to South Florida in the wake of the superstorm.  ASU sued Miami in February of this year, seeking financial damages as a result of a breach of contract; Miami had sued ASU two days earlier in an effort to void the contract because the effects of the hurricane were out of its control.

In mid-September, a judge set a Dec. 20 deadline for the two sides to resolve the dispute via third-party mediation.  Wednesday, ASU announced that a settlement has been reached, with each entity dismissing their lawsuits against the other as well as Miami paying the Sun Belt school $400,000.

ASU had been seeking $650,000 in damages.

“I am pleased that both lawsuits have been resolved and that this matter is now behind us,” Brad Phelps, general counsel for the Arkansas State University System, said in the statement. “I believe this is a fair resolution of these issues.”

As part of the settlement, the 2017 game, which was the back-end of a home-and-home series, will not be rescheduled.

Last year’s winner Ed Oliver one of eight semifinalists for Outland Trophy

Getty Images
1 Comment

Another day (hour?), another award paring down its field of players eligible to win this year’s honor.

The latest to do as much is the Outland Trophy, with the award that is handed out annually to the nation’s top interior lineman on either side of the ball announcing the eight semifinalists for this year’s honor.  Headlining the most recent group is Houston’s Ed Oliver, who was the 2017 Outland winner.

Top-ranked Alabama (offensive tackle Jonah Williams, nose guard Quinnen Williams) and second-ranked Clemson (offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins) accounted for half of the eight semifinalists.  The other three semifinalists not already mentioned are North Carolina State center Garrett Bradbury, Wisconsin guard Michael Deiter and Oklahoma guard Ben Powers.

Next week, this group of eight semifinalists will be pared down to three finalists.  The winner of the 2018 Outland Trophy will be announced during the Home Depot College Football Awards show on ESPN in early December.

Ohio State LB Baron Browning ruled out for Maryland game

Getty Images
4 Comments

For the second straight week, Ohio State will be down a man in its linebacking corps.

Earlier this week, Urban Meyer listed Baron Browning as probable for Saturday’s game against Maryland.  Wednesday night after practice, however, the head coach confirmed that the linebacker will not play against the Terrapins.

Browning is dealing with an unspecified injury that sidelined the sophomore linebacker for the win over Michigan State this past Saturday.

Through eight games in 2018, Browning has been credited with 22 tackles, 3½ tackles for loss and a sack.  As noted by ElevenWarriors.com, Browning has been rotating in with Tuf Borland at the middle linebacker spot throughout the season.

A five-star 2017 signee, Browning played in a dozen games as a true freshman last year.