INDIANAPOLIS -- What some originally thought might take three days to hash out didn’t take that long after all.
The University of Miami wrapped up its hearings with the NCAA Committee of Infractions on Friday afternoon after 16 1/2 hours of talks over two days — less than it took the same committee to sort through the USC case in February 2010.
The scene inside the well-guarded, second-floor conference room at the downtown Westin Hotel was described by one person as “an intense process that covered a lot of material” — one that “didn’t include any surprises, just all of the same stuff we’ve talked about for months and months and months.”
When it was finally over, Hurricanes football coach Al Golden was the first person out the door. He streaked down the hallway and out the doors of the hotel.
The next step? A decision on penalties from the eight-person panel headed by Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky will take at least six weeks. It will deliberate in private and weigh whether the findings made by the NCAA’s enforcement committee or the arguments made over the past 48 hours by UM and others accused by former booster Nevin Shapiro of breaking NCAA rules are right.
“I don’t think there’s any exact time frame that the committee has [to reach a decision], but we certainly hope we would be done prior to the beginning of the football season,” said Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford, who attended both days of hearings in support of Miami.
“It’s been an extraordinarily long investigation. I’ve said it before: I think the sheer length of the investigation has been a penalty in itself.”
Swofford, the only person present at the hearings to speak publicly after they concluded, did not discuss any events involved in the case and simply spoke in generalities for the most part.
Asked how he felt about the University of Miami when Yahoo! Sports first reported Shapiro’s allegations in August 2011 compared to Friday, Swofford said: “Well, I’ve never not felt good about the University of Miami, but I feel real good about the University of Miami right now.”
“It’s a very unified place right now that is very committed to each other, the program and the University, very supportive of each other. It’s very good to see. Their concern is the university and the program moving forward.”
Football the focus
UM’s contingent — led by school president Donna Shalala and featuring athletic director Blake James and Golden — returned Friday to the same conference room where it spent 10 hours Thursday delving into the list of allegations brought forth by Shapiro nearly three years ago. The NCAA began its own investigation in March 2011 and ended it this past February.
While the primary focus of discussion at Thursday’s hearings centered on basketball, football was the topic Friday. According to a source, the infractions committee worked through the allegations pertaining to individuals involved in the case first before shifting its focus to UM and more serious charges the school is facing, such as lack of institutional control.
A day after former UM basketball coach Frank Haith and two former Hurricanes basketball assistants wrapped up their business with the NCAA Committee on Infractions, former UM football assistants Clint Hurtt and Aubrey Hill did the same by 11 a.m. Friday.