Miami's Penalty and the Continued Erosion of NCAA Power

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As is wont to happen when a school is penalized by the NCAA, comparisons abound as to how this school's NCAA punishment compares to others. Such is the case here, mainly for the purposes of examining what is happening to NCAA enforcement overall.

Here are Miami's penalties and how they stacked up versus what North Carolina and Ohio State got.

North Carolina Ohio State Miami
Violations 9 major including one for FTM social media 4 major including FTM 12 major including LOIC
Duration of violations Two years Four years Ten years
Benefits $30,000 $14,000 $173,000
Probation 3 years 3 years 3 years
Scholarship Penalty 15 over 3 years in football 9 over three years in football 9 over 3 years in football; 3 over 3 years in basketball
Postseason ban One season One season Two seasons(self imposed)
Fines $50,000 Forfeit $338,811 from bowl game NONE
Vacated wins Football 2008 and 2009 Football 2010 NONE
Show causes One football asst coach Former head coach 2 football asst coaches, 1 basketball asst coach
Suspensions Two players 4 & 6 gms, three perm. bans Multiple players 8 football players 1-6 gms; Former basketball coach, 5 games
Other penalties Disassociation of several people Disassociation of several people Restrictions on texts/calls for all programs

Legend: FTM = Failure to Monitor. LOIC = Lack of Institutional Control

Let's me just say that, speaking for myself, this is not presented to whine about the perceived inequity in the penalties. I honestly could not possibly care less what happens to Miami or any other school. Griping about what this school got or that school didn't get doesn't change your school's situation so it is a waste of time. Besides that, Twitter has declared fans from other schools being upset about the NCAA's stark lack of consistency to be a socially unacceptable or something. And even if it was, expecting the NCAA to be consistent falls into the very definition of insanity.

Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out the discrepancy that exists between the nature of the violations and the penalties received. Miami's misdeeds were ten years of having a booster running loose with access to the sideline, the locker room, players, coaches and even a get together with the school president. There was certainly more money involved than in UNC and Ohio State's cases combined. Miami also got the dreaded lack of institutional control charge which used to mean hellfire and brimstone. For all of that, Miami largely received lesser penalties than both UNC and Ohio St. with the two year bowl ban being the notable exception. That alone sort of tips the scales closer to level since, in my opinion, a team missing the postseason for two straight years is a fairly severe punishment. Still, Miami somehow managed to avoid being fined, having wins vacated(not a single ineligible player on the field/court in ten years?) and will deal with a less severe scholarship penalty in football than UNC.The NCAA did go after more coaches which probably represents a shift in the handling of these matters by putting the pressure on the ones most responsible.

So why was it different for Miami besides the erratic and slightly illogical way in which the NCAA spits out penalties?  Well, timing is everything right? When North Carolina ran into trouble, the national media and public-at-large were still willing to support the charade which is the NCAA. It made for sexy headlines to watch the NCAA go after a major program and UNC's previously pristine image ratcheted up the heat a couple of notches. People love to tear someone/something down off the pedestal, especially when that status has been a source of boasting for many years. It was open season on the likes of USC, UNC and Ohio State for both the NCAA and the media at large.

That sort of thing doesn't happen anymore. That group of cases marked the peak of the NCAA fully exercising its enforcement power. The case at Oregon, the laughable manner in which Johnny Manziel's situation was handled and now seeming restraint with Miami's penalties shows the strength of the NCAA has largely been neutralized. Schools have also discovered that you can indeed fight "city hall" and win with the right legal counsel on your side.

However, the real source of the NCAA's enforcement emasculation lies mainly in the organization being arcane, hypocritical and incredibly corrupt. Miami's case was very much the turning point in those perceptions. The NCAA was caught red-handed during the investigation acting in an unethical manner. The length of the investigation was interminable and largely unfair to Miami. Couple this with the rising movement to see the current amateurism model revised(or destroyed) the NCAA is now the source of all evil in college athletics and Miami was transformed into a victim. This was best illustrated by CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel who in 2010 declared UNC to be a "turd floating" in the college football punch bowl. Three years later, Doyel was openly advocating Miami receive no additional penalties over the self-imposed ones.

Quite simply the paradigm has and is shifting. The NCAA's overreach in the Penn State case and the scorched earth manner in which they went after Miami turned the tide. It ultimately comes down to the public making a choice between which organization they think is more repulsive and which story is more interesting. The school with the shady and now convicted booster spreading money around to football players is one we've heard before. It is also one that can be told at countless other programs, possibly to a greater degree. The NCAA? A huge bureaucracy with antiquated rules and draconian methods isn't new but mix in the manner in which college athletes are exploited, the NCAA comes off as just a little more disgusting than the schools it is trying to investigate.

In other words, if schools want to break some rules, now is the time.

Note: Doc Kennedy contributed editorially to this piece.

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