The scope of the news about Miami's runaway booster is jaw-dropping, but the real damage is in the details -- specific payouts, favors, bar tabs, hookers and more. Dozens upon dozens of players. (Coaches!) Not just "many players were involved" but 70-odd players specifically named, each with a page of specific details.
I never thought that the NCAA would be able to toss around the word "death penalty" again after the SMU debacle of the mid-1980s, but the conventional wisdom is that it is at least worth mentioning in the wake of last night's story being broken.
Mostly, it seems ludicrous that something this institutional could merit the old "reduction in scholarships" or "bowl ban" or "vacated wins." You have to wonder what the NCAA thought as they went through the allegations and evidence (or what they are thinking today).
(Quick sidebar: You also have to wonder what the Miami beat reporters have been doing for the past 10 years. It's not like Nevin Shapiro wasn't the most ostentatious booster around the program. He had a fight with the compliance director in the press box, for god's sake. I would make a point about recruiting "reporters" and how they had to have known, but they are closer to part of the problem than a watchdog keeping things honest.)
The point is that it's a really big story and it will likely subsume the storied Miami football program. If someone asked me for a percentage, I'd put it stronger than 50/50 that The U. gets the death penalty. Partly, it's because it's warranted; partly it's because the NCAA -- under so much fire from so many different angles -- will feel pressure to do it, to satisfy the blood lust from some corners for a poster program for the largely lawless excesses of college football.
It may take a season for everything to pull together -- and oh what a brutal season Miami is in store for, with every mention of the team being paired with "scandal!" -- but the hammer will come down.
(I've been trying to think of a way for the program to avoid a flat-out "your program is shut down" -- maybe a voluntary move to 1-AA for some number of seasons? God: Imagine what happens if they shut the program down and current Miami players are allowed to transfer to other schools without sitting out a year. Talk about a recruiting frenzy.)
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