The readers’ forum

University of Miami: Self-imposed sanctions have strengthened our mission

 

On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of Miami, I wish to reaffirm President Donna Shalala’s expression of regret and our acceptance of responsibility for violations of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules by current and former student-athletes, coaches and staff. Our institution can — and must — do a better job of ensuring compliance to NCAA and ACC rules, and that effort of strengthening our policies and procedures is well underway.

Unfortunately, over the last 2 1/2 years, the university has lived under the glaring light of a protracted and sensationalized NCAA investigation, which often overshadows the wonderful accomplishment of our current student-athletes, most recently the dramatic rise of our men’s basketball team to unprecedented heights.

Despite the often unwieldy investigation, the University of Miami, at President Shalala’s and the Board of Trustees’ insistence, has held itself to the highest standards in its model cooperation with the NCAA. Our administrators, staff, and student-athletes have been forthcoming with information and transparency in their efforts to address any concerns. What has been lost in recent months is the fact that it was the university that first advised the NCAA of potential violations back in 2010.

The university has self-imposed unprecedented sanctions, including the football program’s two-year bowl ban and forfeiture of a hard-earned conference championship game. Student-athletes found to have violated NCAA rules were withheld from competition, and they repaid any inappropriate benefits that they had received.

Regardless of the many troubling aspects of the NCAA’s conduct, we must keep our focus on our core mission as an institution of higher learning: Fostering our students’ intellectual and, in the case of our athletes, physical development. We must never lose sight of our role in helping them become effective and ethical leaders, both on and off the playing field. I believe our approach and conduct during this lengthy investigation has done just that.

While I believe that the University of Miami will emerge stronger and more committed than ever to the letter and the spirit in which the NCAA’s rules of conduct were established, the trustees respectfully, but firmly, add our own voice to President Shalala’s in asking that no further sanctions be imposed on the dedicated, talented, and outstanding men and women who proudly represent the Miami Hurricanes.

Leonard Abess, chair, University of Miami Board of Trustees

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