So the news broke today that the University of Miami is officially reviewing the eligibility of 15 student athletes. There is no mention of how many of the athletes are football players, but based on the recent allegations from former booster Nevin Shapiro, it seems that the list of involved players will be football heavy.
In the recent Yahoo! Sports article detailing the alleged violations at "The U," Shapiro listed the following current players as having taken improper benefits: Jacory Harris, Vaughn Telemaque, Ray Ray Armstrong, Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson, Marcus Forston, Olivier Vernon, Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, Dyron Dye, JoJo Nicholas and Sean Spence. For those of you counting at home, that’s 11 projected starters including possible starting quarterback Jacory Harris (Harris was expected to compete with sophomore Stephen Morris for the starting job).
As for why this is all important to our Terps, the answer should be fairly obvious. Maryland opens its season against Miami under the bright lights of Byrd, September 5th. Today’s comments from Miami President Donna Shalala shed light on the "review" process and a potential time table:
"The Miami athletic compliance staff, in a joint effort with the NCAA, is now beginning the process of reviewing the eligibility of 15 current student-athletes," Shalala said. "With the season fast approaching I know our players, coaches and fans are eager to know the results. The process, however, must be deliberate and thorough to ensure its integrity."
How about adding Maryland fans to the list of those "eager to know the results?"
Deliberate and thorough is all well and good but I’m going to be thoroughly pissed if 12 ineligible players suit up for Miami on Labor Day, and then we happen to find out they all received improper benefits. Sure, the NCAA might scratch a potential win from Miami’s record books but that would do nothing to help Maryland’s record and season in the event of a loss.
It seems to me that if Yahoo! has 20,000 pages of business records, 5,000 pages of cell phone records, and over a 1,000 photographs backing up Nevin Shapiro’s statements, he’s probably telling the truth. And I don’t doubt for a second that most of the 12 named players probably took illegal benefits. That said, there is a concept of "innocent until proven guilty" in this country. And it would suck for kids who did nothing wrong to be held out of a big game like this.
I see both sides of the argument here, but I just find it unlikely that all (or at least most) of these guys are innocent. It would be a shame for Maryland to have to line up against 11 starters who will very likely be named ineligible weeks later.