If youll forgive an estimate and a rounded number for dramatic effect, lets just go ahead and call it 1,000 Days of Hell now and counting for University of Miami athletics in the bumbling hands of the ponderous NCAA.
Will it never end?
(That isnt a rhetorical question. Im beginning to wonder.)
Watching the NCAA move toward a conclusion in its UM investigation is like watching a giant tortoise and a three-toed sloth race toward a checkered flag. You assume something must be happening, but, with the imperially secretive NCAA, progress cannot be measured or seen. Its like watching a glacier and trying to notice it melt.
All I know every day when I wake up is were one day closer to the end, UM athletics director Blake James told us Monday, frustrated (his word) but tactful. Weve taken all the steps an institution could take given our situation to put ourselves in a position to move forward.
That were not positive when the clock on this investigation should begin that alone tells you how long this has dragged on.
It was August 2010 when renegade Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro first went public with claims and threats of a tell-all book. Within months he went to the NCAA, which began its probe in March 2011 and officially informed UM of it that August.
To arrive at our 1,000-day clock we start it around winter 2010, just before New Years, when it is believed the NCAA first heard from its snitch.
One thousand days later, Shapiro is doing 20 years in prison for a $930 million Ponzi scheme Canes fans might call that proof of karma and UM remains in a jail of its own, not knowing what its sentence will be or when it might come.
Mens basketball has a lesser role in this matter, but mainly it is Al Goldens football program that waits to see whether its dream season will be snatched away. The Canes are unbeaten, No. 15 in the AP poll and pounding toward what they hope is an Atlantic Coast Conference championship but that will be up to the NCAA as much as its up to Canes players.
There is a word for a situation like that.
Yet Golden has held his program together and moved it forward.
We couldnt have asked for Al to be a greater champion through all this than what hes been, James said. I cant say enough positives for how I feel Als handled this situation he completely inherited.
This is the long cloud over our civic parade.
So much to love in major Miami sports right now. The Canes and Dolphins both are 3-0 together for the first time since 2002. The defending champion Heat are about to open training camp in search of a three-peat. Panthers hockey is unfurling. Youth and talent embodied in pitcher Jose Fernandez make the Marlins future seem bright.
But that sledgehammer poised over UM football demands an eye both weary and wary.
The Hurricanes thought closure finally was at hand back in June when, after receiving the official Notice of Allegations, UM presented its defense to the NCAA Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis, where colleges governing body is headquartered.
A final verdict was expected in six to eight weeks. It has been almost 14 weeks.
Judge and jury
Colleges police, judge and jury (aka the NCAA) should discipline itself with a statute of limitations so schools being investigated are not put through years of what Miami has endured tantamount to a punishment in and of itself.