The sledgehammer that came down on Penn State is particularly relevant in South Florida as the Miami Hurricanes football program and its fans try to place the ongoing NCAA investigation of UM in a broader context.
Good news for UM
The good news is that the Hurricanes’ rule breaking seems a lot less serious ever since Sandusky and Penn State redefined for all time what real wrongdoing is. A year ago the allegations of renegade booster-turned snitch Nevin Shapiro — the now-jailed Ponzi schemer — seemed serious enough to bring the death penalty into conversations.
Players treated to yacht parties involving hookers! What could be worse!?
Now we know. And UM’s improprieties seem closer to littering and jaywalking compared with Sandusky’s crimes and the tacit approval of Paterno doing nothing.
UM fans might realistically hope that the NCAA will feel the same way, and also that the NCAA will be favorably impressed that Miami voluntarily banned itself from a bowl game last season, and that eight Canes players already have served suspensions of one game or more based on involvement with the rogue Shapiro.
All of that should mitigate against the severity of future punishments still pending.
Except there are new allegations now, made Friday by Yahoo! Sports, that coach Al Golden had “direct knowledge” that a former assistant equipment manager, Sean “Pee Wee” Allen, aided Golden’s staff in recruiting, a rules violation made worse (if true) because it would be a lack of institutional control.
The latest claim (if true) would be especially damning because it would indicate that wrongdoing didn’t just predate Golden’s arrival but continued under him. Golden has denied the story and its claim, though, so we’ll see.
Miami’s beleaguered second-year coach is up in North Carolina at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff media days being asked about everything except football, between the NCAA cloud over his program and the fact he’s a Penn State alum who played for Paterno.
“I think my integrity and reputation over the last 18 years speaks for itself,” Golden said Monday.
(May Al’s reputation continue to speak for itself better than Paterno’s has posthumously …)
Hurricanes fans braced for an NCAA decision on UM penalties cannot be sure whether to be hopeful or worried by what happened to Penn State.
What Miami has done, acknowledged or claimed, clearly is nowhere near that level of egregiously wrong.
But Monday also reminded that when the NCAA is of a mind to punish, its hammer can be a heavy, bludgeoning thing.