GREENSBORO, N.C. — At first, Charlotte was the only place Shayon Green imagined spending last Dec. 1.
Ultimately, he couldn’t get out of town fast enough. It hurt too much.
So Green and Miami teammate Duke Johnson took an early flight home instead of attending the ACC Championship Game. The two Hurricanes received awards from the ACC that weekend, so they had to fly up to Charlotte. But Green and Johnson were in the air when arch foe Florida State beat Georgia Tech for a spot in the Orange Bowl.
Knowing they would have been participants that chilly evening instead of Georgia Tech still eats at Green, a senior defensive end.
But the program’s first appearance in the league title game was another victim in the NCAA case that continues to haunt the Hurricanes. A decision from the NCAA’s Committee on Infraction nears as speculation continues. The expected 6-to-8-week window for a verdict opens Friday, with practice officially beginning Aug. 3.
Opening the annual ACC Kickoff media event Sunday afternoon, league commissioner John Swofford quickly touched on the case. He accompanied Miami administrators and attorneys to Indianapolis for the Committee on Infractions hearing.
“I would hope whatever is coming from the NCAA will come before the season starts,” Swofford said while declining to address specifics from the hearing. “I would be very disappointed if that’s not the case.”
Coach Al Golden said is hopeful for to gain resolution in the coming weeks. He said that cloud and burden is nowhere near what it was a year ago, long before the NCAA’s investigative missteps injured its case against Miami.
The internal unity gave Golden reason for pride.
“We’ve had kids come and go like kids come and go from programs every year,” he said. “But we’ve had not one kid walk into my office with his family and say I’m leaving ‘because I don’t know what the future is with the NCAA. It’s too tenuous, I want out.’”
It didn’t come without painful moments. Green and quarterback Stephen Morris vividly described their memories of the ACC title game the school voluntarily sat out in hopes of softening potential future sanctions.
“I left,” the defensive lineman said. “I didn’t want to be here.”
Quarterback Stephen Morris and Golden skipped the TV broadcast as well.
“I just had a good time with my friends and played some cards that night and probably watched a movie,” Morris said. “It’s just tough knowing you’re supposed to be in the game.”
The fact that Miami had won the Coastal Division and had a right to the game was a card used by the school in arguing for no further sanctions from the NCAA. It remains unclear if the case will hold up, and the players don’t get caught up in the day-to-day discussions.
Morris said they never talk about the NCAA case in the locker room. Coaches don’t bring it up in meetings. It’s like nothing is happening.
“Honestly, the only time I hear about the NCAA is when the media wants to talk about it,” Morris said. “So that kinda tells you what we’re thinking about it and how we’re reacting to it down at the U.”
A year ago, Miami faced an onslaught of questions as the 2-year investigative process dragged on. Now the Hurricanes are approaching what could be the end of the long road involving former booster Nevin Shapiro’s allegations of extra benefits.
There’s little anyone at Miami can do but sit back and wait for the COI ruling.
“It’s completely out of my hands,” Morris said. “As much as I want to talk about it, I don’t have that much to say about it. I’ll just let it be since it’s out of my hands.”