And so l’affaire Miami ends, not with a bang, but a whimper: some scholarship losses and some minor recruiting restrictions, but the big ticket stuff – TV and postseason – remains intact and the school doesn’t get slapped with any sort of institutional penalty. The NCAA will attempt to justify the punishment by emphasizing the cooperative nature of the school…
Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky, the chair of the Committee on Infractions, cited Miami’s “unprecedented” self-imposed penalties and “commendable” level of cooperation as factors that weighed heavily in the decision regarding further penalties.
… but the reality is that the only thing unprecedented about this was that Donna Shalala had Mark Emmert’s balls in a vice.
Keep in mind what the NCAA is walking away from here.
In 100 hours of jailhouse interviews during Yahoo! Sports’ 11-month investigation, Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro described a sustained, eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking, some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs. At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and, on one occasion, an abortion.
As bad as it all was, there was no way that Emmert was prepared to risk going to court and having the NCAA’s dirty investigative laundry aired out to dry for all to see. Shalala knew that. And Emmert knew that Shalala knew.
A cynic might observe that since there wasn’t any money at stake, the NCAA’s heart wasn’t in litigating, anyway.
There will be much gnashing of teeth over this decision. I’m long past the point of being angered by the NCAA’s erratic enforcement of what Emmert considers important. That he continues to be propped up despite this doesn’t faze me anymore.
The only thing that still gets me is how anyone can seriously suggest that the solution to the problem rests in giving Mark Emmert more authority.