Should the NCAA give Miami the Death Penalty?
After three decades of turmoil, does Miami deserve to keep its football program?
By: Braden Gall | 8/19/11, 8:30 AM EDT
Debate: Should the NCAA give the Miami Hurricanes the death penalty?
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden): As much as I fundamentally disagree with the "Death Penalty" as punishment, it is extremely hard for me to see any other option here. The issues at Miami run much deeper than just one rogue booster. And it's not just about the last ten years in which Nevin Shapiro gained notorious status for his philandering.
First, this is about track record. It’s about a long-standing modus operandi of atrocious behavior. It isn’t just about Luther Campbell or Little Luke Shapiro. This is about more than three decades of the worst activity imaginable.
I, like many children of the 80s, enjoyed the flamboyant, brash style and talent of “The U.” At the time, I clearly didn’t understand the inner workings of what was happening in Coral Gables. But as an adult, it is hard to wrap my head around the continued, blatant disregard for rules and regulations.
The list of issues is long and ugly. On-the-field brawls steeped in gang violence. Multiple murders. Rampant cheating. OK Coral-style shootouts at players’ homes. Press box fist fights. Drug wars. Am I missing anything?
The continued glorification of violence is gut-wrenching.
I haven’t even mentioned the white-collar criminals. The behavior of Donna Shalala, Paul Dee, Kirby Hocutt and the rest of the power brokers at Miami is completely unacceptable. It is painfully obvious how much these supposed proponents of education knew about Shapiro – and God knows what else. They reached into their collective pockets and pulled out a giant middle finger and stuck right in the face of anyone who dared look in their direction. Then laughed all the way to the bank.
It took SMU nearly three decades to recover from the death penalty. Cutting football for a year won’t have nearly the same affect on a program of Miami’s power and clout. They can rebound in five years and be competitive again with the right coach and the rich South Florida recruiting waters. The Canes would be back competing for national titles in less than a decade.
But no one at any school – not the coaches, boosters, fans, players, agents or hangers-on – will ever learn their lesson if someone doesn’t pay dearly once and for all.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
I do not believe the NCAA should give the Miami football program the “death penalty”, even though there is a strong case that it deserves that type of sentence. Strong sanctions – especially heavy scholarship reductions – will probably cripple ‘The U’ for many years anyway, but a season should not be cancelled or taken off television. I believe a “death penalty” scenario would mostly hurt those who were not responsible for the Hurricanes’ mess. Most of the people who deserve punishment – Nevin Shapiro (jail), former athletic directors Paul Dee (retired) and Kirby Hocutt (Texas Tech), as well as the former football and basketball coaches and a majority of the players – are no longer associated with Miami. Plus, the rest of the ACC would suffer immensely from the Hurricanes either being shut down or banned from television.
Current athletic director Shawn Eichorst, football coach Al Golden and basketball coach Jim Larranaga are all new to Coral Gables and have sterling reputations. They will have to deal with a ton of sanctions that will probably leave Miami with little chance of success in the foreseeable future. I understand the view that some program has suffer greatly to serve as a deterrent for others, but immense scholarship reductions and recruiting limitations will accomplish that as much as a television ban. It’s a shame that the guilty parties will most likely not be the ones to suffer the appropriate punishment, but that’s the unfortunate reality in an NCAA world.
Miami deserves to suffer greatly for its past indiscretions, but that can still happen outside of a “death penalty” scenario. The aforementioned new leadership will steer the program in the right direction, even though that will mean a lack of athletic success in the short term.
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