NCAA president Mark Emmert told USA Today that despite the penalty being used only once before in college football — against Southern Methodist University in 1987 — the association isn’t afraid of taking such a drastic action.
“Clearly, the impact of the so-called death penalty is really severe,” Emmert said, not speaking specifically about the Miami case.
“You wouldn’t want to enter into it without a very solid reason for doing so. … You have to recognize that, today, inflicting that penalty on any one school has a lot of collateral damage to other members of the conference, around media contract rights and a variety of things. So you wouldn’t enter into it casually.
“… Having said that, if that’s an option that the (NCAA) Committee on Infractions believes is appropriate in any one case — it doesn’t matter which one it is — I’m not opposed to them using that. We need to have penalties that serve as effective deterrents so that people who are doing the calculation in their head (as to) whether or not the risks and rewards line up, recognize the price of being caught.”
According to Yahoo! Sports, which cited a university source at Miami, the NCAA informed administrators Thursday it will consider invoking its “willful violators” clause and extending the traditional four-year statute of limitations.
Applied to the Shapiro allegations, it means the NCAA could reach as far back to early 2002, when the booster said he began funneling benefits to Hurricanes players. If the investigation stretches back to 2002, it would overlap with Miami’s two-year probationary period for the baseball program, which was penalized from February 2003 to February 2005. That could potentially tag the Miami athletic program as a repeat violator and make the school further susceptible to the NCAA’s death penalty.
“If the NCAA kills the program, there will be a lot of people slitting their throats,” said rapper Luther Campbell, a huge Hurricanes fan, who was often seen on Miami’s sideline during the 1980s and 1990s. “People would be on suicide watch, I can tell you that. That would very seriously hurt the city of Miami.”
Maria Elena Perez, Shapiro’s attorney, told The Miami Herald it was her understanding that NCAA investigators were “done interviewing people at UM” and “on their way back to Indianapolis to work this all out.”
Perez said the allegations made by Shapiro (who implicated more than 72 players, seven coaches and several staff employees at Miami in accepting free dinners, yacht cruises, jewelry and prostitutes) would soon be supported by other claims made by jilted “investors” whom she said partied with her client and Miami players and coaches and are now trying to recoup money.
“People are coming out of the woodwork with this,” Perez said.
Meanwhile, as the Hurricanes football team resumed practice Thursday with 12 players implicated by Shapiro still participating, other schools’ athletes accused of taking impermissible gifts while being recruited by Miami were cleared.
The University of Florida said Thursday the NCAA eligibility of offensive lineman Matt Patchan and receiver Andre Debose are not in question.
“We have been in communication with the NCAA, and there are no eligibility issues with Andre Debose and Matt Patchan as it relates to recent reports. Andre, Matt, nor the University of Florida will have any additional comments regarding this matter,” the UF statement read.
Purdue quarterback and former Cane Robert Marve, Georgia tight end Orson Charles and Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown and running back Bryce Brown also were cleared, according to similar statements released by their schools.
Patchan’s father, a former Hurricane, was reached by phone by The Miami Herald on Thursday night. Asked if he had been to Shapiro’s $6 million Miami Beach mansion as the former booster claimed in the Yahoo! Sports report, Matt Patchan Sr. said, “I’d rather not comment.”
UCF quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey, whom Shapiro said accepted cash and a pair of Air Jordan sneakers, according to Yahoo’s report, still has not been cleared.
Although some are not necessarily denying their relationship to Shapiro, others have denied his claims.
Michael Huyghue, now the commissioner of the United Football League and formerly the owner of the Axcess Sports & Entertainment agency, told the Florida Times-Union on Thursday that Shapiro’s claims of the agency’s dealings with three former Miami players were “bogus.”
Albert Armstrong, the father of Hurricanes safety Ray-Ray Armstrong, said his son never took a game-worn Sean Taylor jersey from the former booster, which Shapiro alleged.
“I wish he did have one,” Albert Armstrong said. “If he did have one it would be framed and up on our living room wall right now. … That man Shapiro is just a flat-out liar.”