Does UM deserve harsher penalties? Was banning itself from what would have been a marginal bowl game and an ACC title game it might have lost enough? Was Al Goldens small but rapidly growing signing class enough? Considering the recruiting violations that transpired under Frank Haith minor as they appear to be can the basketball program expect more punishment?
Keep in mind that USC got docked 30 scholarships for the actions of one athlete, Reggie Bush, and one rogue agent, and bitter Trojan fans maintain former UM athletic director and infractions committee chair Paul Dee was out to get USC. Ohio State got whacked because athletes received free tattoos (and exacerbated that minor transgression by lying about it along with coach Jim Tressel).
Shapiro was greasing palms for a decade. The guy was a con man, sure, who duped gullible, greedy people out of lots of their money. But he was also a walking, talking, blinking red-arrow sign. Randy Shannon told players to stay away from him. Compliance officer David Reed warned his bosses. Haith allegedly paid Shapiro not to rat on recruiting entertainments by his staff.
Despite the obvious smell oozing from Shapiro, UM named a players lounge after him. Shalala accepted a giant check from him at a bowling party, he was on team planes and game sidelines.
An NCAA conspiracy against UM? No, just the same lack of oversight in Indianapolis as there was in Coral Gables.
In hindsight, it would have been better to stand up to Shapiro then than to the NCAA now. But Shalala is striking back. She is being pragmatic. Another irony is that so many UM football fans were cruelly dismissive of Shalala for years, saying she was antifootball, disregarding that Shalala is a knowledgeable and devoted follower of college sports and an excellent athlete herself. As a kid in Cleveland, she played softball on a team coached by George Steinbrenner. She has a mean backhand today, at age 72.
She was the first woman to lead a Big Ten university (Wisconsin). She served in Bill Clintons cabinet for eight years. She was a pioneering Peace Corps volunteer in Iran. Her hero is Amelia Earhart.
Shalala does not have to tell whats inside the Notice of Allegations because UM is a private institution. Public schools dont have that privilege. But if she wants the public to take her word for it, she should not use her NCAA jabs as a diversionary tactic to hide damaging information.
Shalala is the worthy foe the NCAA needs as it attempts reforms, again. Shes going to fight, but she ought to fight fair.