Miami Players Suspended: 8 Hurricanes Must Sit Out Games
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Quarterback Jacory Harris and 11 other Miami players who accepted extra benefits from former booster Nevin Shapiro will be allowed by the NCAA to play again, four of them without missing any games.
The harshest penalties handed down Tuesday were reserved for those who took gifts from Shapiro while being recruited. Defensive lineman Olivier Vernon will sit out six games, while Ray Ray Armstrong - considered among the nation's top safeties - and tight end Dyron Dye will miss four games apiece. They are three of eight players, including Harris, who must sit out games and repay benefits before they can be reinstated.
Miami opens its season at Maryland on Monday night.
"It's nice to have it out there now," Miami center Tyler Horn told The Associated Press Tuesday night.
"There's no suspense in the air. We know what we have. We know what we're taking to Maryland. We have a lot of very talented players that we're taking to Maryland, and we're going up there to do our best. I wasn't too worried about it. I knew things would take care of themselves."
The Hurricanes still might face many more sanctions as the NCAA's investigation into Miami's compliance practices continues. And with Tuesday's ruling, the school has joined a growing list of schools with major football programs to be investigated by the NCAA for rule-breaking in the past 18 months. Others include Southern California, Ohio State, Auburn, Oregon, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and LSU.
"Our members have continually stressed that involvement of third parties during recruitment will not be tolerated," NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs Kevin Lennon said.
Harris, Sean Spence, Travis Benjamin, Marcus Forston and Adewale Ojomo - all of whom were likely starters - must sit out one game and make restitution for accepting benefits after enrolling at the school. Four other players must repay small amounts, all under $100, but will not miss any games.
"They understand that their actions demand consequences," Miami athletic director Shawn Eichorst said.
A 13th player, Marcus Robinson, was vindicated of wrongdoing.
As Miami coach Al Golden arrived at a fan gathering Tuesday night, he was greeted by dozens chanting his last name. Golden acknowledged them with a wave.
"I think there will be a sense of relief now," Golden said.
The NCAA's ruling means Stephen Morris - who led Miami past the Terrapins last season - will be at quarterback for the Hurricanes to start the season. Harris, Spence, Benjamin, Forston and Ojomo all will be eligible to play when Miami hosts Ohio State on Sept. 17.
"They'll still be motivating us," said Joel Figueroa, named Miami's left tackle earlier Tuesday. "We're going to welcome them back with open arms, and we know they'll be ready to perform when the time comes."
The NCAA said Vernon must sit six games and repay more than $1,200 because as a recruit he accepted things such as access to Shapiro's suite at a Miami home game, drinks and cover charges at two different nightclubs. Shapiro, who told Yahoo Sports for a story published Aug. 16 that he provided benefits to 72 Miami players and recruits over an eight-year span, has even said that he made a $1,000 donation to Vernon's high school booster club.
Armstrong must repay $788, the believed worth of his extra benefits, while Dye will pay back $738.
"The student-athletes involved have acknowledged receiving improper benefits and will now be responsible for restitution," Eichorst said.
Forston, the NCAA said, received more than $400 in things such as "athletic equipment, meals, nightclub cover charges and entertainment at a gentleman's club." Spence received about $275 in benefits, Ojomo $240, Benjamin more than $150 and Harris more than $140.
Brandon McGee, JoJo Nicholas, Micanor Regis and Vaughn Telemaque all must pay less than $100 for various impermissible benefits.
Separately, Golden said senior wide receiver Aldarius Johnson - who was also implicated by Shapiro, but not named in Tuesday's NCAA statement - has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.
BY TIM REYNOLDS, Associated Press