This is not a day to blame the NCAA for screwing up the Miami investigation beyond belief.
This is not a day to blame the NCAA infractions committee for taking four months, one week and one day to decide the most publicized/controversial case in the major college sports history.
Been there, slammed that.
This is a day to remind to who is really at fault -- Miami and its late AD Paul Dee.
The core issue remains that there was a lot of bad stuff going in Coral Gables. Miami let a slimy booster (Nevin Shapiro) inside its program for a decade with no oversight. A decade. It's right there in the massive 102-page report released on Tuesday. The NCAA took particular care on this one with footnotes and references since, you know, it had treated part of the investigation like a home invasion.
Back to the blame, though. At any point, Dee could have stepped in and stopped Shapiro, but he didn't. The same for UM president Donna Shalala. For one thing, the money was too good. For another thing, well, there really isn't another thing.
Unless you've been concussed lately with a 2x4, college administrators pretty much can overlook anything if the money is good enough. Games on the decks of aircraft carriers. Athletic facilities that all but include human cloning capabilities. Allowing donors to dictate hiring practices.
Apparently, Miami stopped short of that with Shapiro. We think. It did allow Shapiro to lavish money on the school, in addition to its athletes. It allowed Shapiro to almost punch out Miami's compliance officer -- with no repercussions. Yeah, that also happened on Dee's watch. It was all there in the Yahoo! Sports expose.
Paul Dee cannot defend himself today. He died of natural causes 17 months ago. That does not absolve him -- and the Miami administration -- of blame. The school realized that -- too late, post-Dee and ahead of the posse -- pulling itself out of two bowls and an ACC championship game.
“Obviously all institutional administrators share responsibility with compliance of the rules,” NCAA compliance committee chairman Britton Banowsky said.
That's all he really had to say. A mouthy, attention-grabbing convicted felon (Shapiro) sits in jail. From there he was able to manipulate a case with a revenge motive.
That's kind of the way it happens in most NCAA cases. Somebody gets wronged and speaks out. Except that here, the NCAA couldn't get a slam dunk case right. Shapiro reportedly had boxes of records to corroborate his claims. The NCAA then went way too far to prove a case that should have been wrapped up a year ago.
Paul Dee is the central figure in the Miami case because he was also a central figure in the USC case.
At the exact time Dee, as chairman of the infractions committee himself, was pronouncing sentence on USC (June 10, 2010), his Miami empire was burning to the ground. At the exact time he uttered the infamous words about Reggie Bush, “high-profile players demand high-profile compliance,” Dee left out mention of a high-profile booster who was running rampant through his football program.
The man who blamed USC for lack of oversight was guilty of it himself.
We can argue severity and degree of penalties at both schools. We can compare USC to Miami. The USC message boards blew up doing just that on Tuesday. But we cannot ignore the guilty parties. Miami and Dee and Shalala and others allowed Shapiro to run amok. The pictures of Shapiro hob-nobbing with UM administrators are no less shocking than they were when Yahoo! Sports first ran them in August 2011.
The two cases aren't comparable on this one base level: USC fought the NCAA. In the end, the combative former AD Mike Garrett may have hurt USC more than Lloyd Lake. Meanwhile Miami was lauded by Banowsky for self-imposing consecutive bowl bans, something USC apparently never considered.
“Self-imposed penalties indicated the school was taking the case seriously,” Banowsky said. “It's a big deal, a very big deal.”
Without directly referencing Mike Garrett and USC, he referenced Mike Garrett and USC.
The NCAA remains forever shamed for its multiple missteps in the case. While the NCAA membership considers governance change, go ahead, blow up the enforcement division. Hire an outside firm. Put former cops on the payroll. Something has to change. Only the NCAA --at least for a while -- could make Shapiro and Miami look like sympathetic figures.
But on Tuesday this long, languishing case finally ended in some sort of truth. In the end, Miami is to blame. That's a similar conclusion that largely got lost in the lambasting of Sports Illustrated in its Oklahoma State series. At the end of SI's investigation, the main point still held: There was some really bad stuff going on in Stillwater.
This was beyond a rogue booster. This a manipulative (at the time) millionaire who was allowed intimate access and influence.
Paul Dee and the Miami administration could have stopped it any moment, but the money was too good.