UM investigation

NCAA unlikely to connect steroid allegations to Miami Hurricanes case

 

Strength and conditioning coach Jimmy Goins has been suspended while UM conducts its probe into performance-enhancing drugs.

sdegnan@MiamiHerald.com

The latest scandal to plague the University of Miami has the school conducting an internal investigation into strength and conditioning assistant Jimmy Goins and his alleged link to performance-enhancing drugs, but unless it can be proved that Goins provided banned substances to UM athletes, it’s unlikely the newest issue will affect the current NCAA investigation involving former booster Nevin Shapiro.

Two sources confirmed Wednesday that Goins has been suspended until Miami concludes its investigation.

“My sense is the two cases are probably disconnected,’’ said Jerry Parkinson, who served as the coordinator of appeals for the NCAA Committee on Infractions from 2000 to 2010. “We never had a case in front of the Committee on Infractions that dealt with drugs, and I pretty much sat on every case.

“The NCAA handles that piece separately and has its own sort of subgroup for drug issues. I’ve never seen drugs be part of a typical infractions case.’’

Two former Hurricanes baseball standouts, both in Tampa on Wednesday in preparation for spring training with the Yankees, spoke highly of Goins, said they had no evidence of him being connected with PEDs and noted they were tested for drugs multiple times at UM.

Several professional athletes and Major League Baseball players — including Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, whose $3.9 million contribution to the renovation of UM’s baseball stadium got it named in his honor — have been linked along with Goins to an “anti-aging” clinic that distributed PEDs, the Miami New Times reported Tuesday.

“I was shocked, but more sad than anything because I was involved in that program for six years and I honestly had no idea if any of this stuff was going on,” said former Canes pitcher Eric Erickson, who was drafted in the 34th round this past spring and rehabilitated from two reconstructive elbow surgeries during his UM career. “Jimmy is an awesome coach, especially last year when I really started getting serious about lifting weights.

“He put together an excellent program for me, supervised me every day and made sure I was doing things right and being safe. As far as I knew that program was totally clean. I was never offered anything, and I never tried to tap into anything banned. I know South Florida is pretty well-known for hooking up professional athletes with performance-enhancing stuff, but I didn’t think it was inside the university.”

Former UM catcher Peter O’Brien, who was drafted by the Yankees in the second round, said he had a good relationship with Goins. “He is a great guy,” O’Brien said. “He gave me great workouts. I never saw or heard anything that even hinted at what was reported. He stretched us out, we lifted weights with him, everything regarding physical conditioning we did with him.

“I’ve never done anything like that, and I never will. I take care of my body, and I’m always going to do things the right way, even if it’s more difficult.’’

O’Brien, who transferred from Bethune-Cookman for his senior season, said “we got drug tested more at UM than we ever did at Cookman — I’d say five or six times the past year. People would watch us pull our pants down and pee into a cup. Nobody I knew of got caught.”

Erickson said that every Wednesday morning there would be a mandatory drug testing roster posted on the wall. “Four or five guys a week,” he said. “If your name was on it then Thursday morning you’d do a urine test while someone was with you to make sure you didn’t try to cheat the system.”

The NCAA generally gets involved only if it discovers that a school hasn’t followed its own drug policies after a student-athlete fails a drug test. Miami, like 90 percent of Division I schools, according to the NCAA, implements its own drug testing program in addition to the NCAA’s.

On Wednesday, a Washington Post blog connected readers to a photo posted to Instagram by Washington Nationals All-Star Gio Gonzalez in November. Gonzalez, who grew up in Hialeah, reportedly trained at UM in the offseason and is one of the MLB players implicated in the PED case. The photo shows Goins, wearing a U baseball shirt, with his arm around Gonzalez. The caption: My offseason strength coach Jimmy Goins.

One of Goins’ attorneys, Coral Gables-based Michelle White of Fenderson & Hampton, said by phone Wednesday that there was “no further information’’ of which to speak. “It’s all coming to light at this point,’’ she said, reaffirming attorney Gordon Fenderson’s statement to The Miami Herald on Tuesday.

“It’s just some insinuations at this point,’’ Fenderson said.

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