Miami has been under NCAA investigation since a Yahoo Sports report last August detailed potential massive violations committed by former booster Nevin Shapiro. The NCAA was not expected to rule on any penalties until after the 2012 season, but the situation is about to get a lot worse in Coral Gables.
According to a report by Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson, Golden’s staff has been using one of Shapiro’s former workers (Sean Allen) to help recruit players to Miami. The report released on Friday details several instances of Allen’s attempt to steer or improperly recruit players to Miami.
Some of the reported incidents include -
- Florida State running back Devonta Freeman was reportedly contacted by Allen and Miami assistant coach Michael Barrow to change his commitment to the Hurricanes. This incident allegedly occurred one day before Freeman was scheduled to enroll at Florida State.
- Current Hurricanes cornerback Thomas Finnie was allegedly called by Allen at least two times on Jan. 6.
- Allen allegedly picked up and drove home Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater after a meeting at a South Miami restaurant. Allen also called Bridgewater at least eight times.
- Current Miami defensive end Anthony Chickillo allegedly had entertainment and drinks paid for by Allen at BT’s Gentlemen’s Club on Jan. 22, 2011.
If the allegations detailed in the report are true, this is another huge blow to the Miami program. While none of the allegations are particularly earth-shattering, it represents a pattern of institutional issues - which won't be received well by the NCAA.
When Miami picked Al Golden to replace Randy Shannon, the hire was supposed to represent a change in culture. The Hurricanes were coming off four lackluster seasons under Randy Shannon, and Golden had resurrected Temple from its college football deathbed.
Golden brought in a solid recruiting class in 2011 and appeared to have the program back on track. However, Miami was rocked by the news of the Shapiro investigation and was forced to deal with suspensions to a handful of key players, including quarterback Jacory Harris and linebacker Sean Spence.
Considering Golden had nothing to do with the previous violations, some thought he would leave the program at the end of 2011, possibly to Penn State. However, Golden stuck around in Coral Gables and signed a contract extension at the end of the season.
Golden was looked upon in a favorable light when he came to Coral Gables, but now it’s time to raise some questions.
How much did Golden know about Barrow and Allen’s actions? Remember the North Carolina scandal last season? Line coach John Blake took most of the fall, but Butch Davis wasn’t innocent. It’s impossible to know how much Golden was aware of what was going on, but it’s hard to believe he knew nothing.
Will the players involved face any NCAA penalties? No one knows at this point, but Bridgewater and Chickillo aren’t likely to see any major suspensions. Bridgewater is expected to be the Big East’s top quarterback in 2012, while Chickillo is Miami’s top defender.
Will this affect Miami in 2012? – As mentioned above, it’s possible the Hurricanes will have a player or two suspended from this news. However, the bigger issue is the black cloud that continues to hang over the program. Golden was supposed to clean up – not continue the off-the-field issues.
Is Al Golden in NCAA trouble? As with Chickillo and Bridgewater, it’s too early to tell. However, it’s impossible to think Golden will make it through unscathed.
In an Athlon Sports’ feature in the 2012 ACC Preview Annual, Golden said his coaching counterparts “absolutely crushed”Miami with attacks. He also added, “there was a lot of negative recruiting. We don’t have a lot of Achilles’ heels. They saw a soft spot and took it.”
And Golden also had this to say about other program’s taking advantage of Miami’s struggles – “get your licks in now.”
And how about this – “We went after guys that understood we weren’t responsible for it, but understand that we’re responsible enough to clean it up.”
Judging by the new allegations, it’s pretty clear Golden knew what was going on and his quotes about cleaning up the program are nothing more than hollow promises - and Miami football is in big trouble, with more bowl bans and scholarship losses coming in the next few years.