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The NCAA handcuffed itself when President Mark Emmert said Wednesday that minimal evidence was acquired through illegal means. I'm not buying that. Emmert would have tossed out the minimal evidence and sent Miami the notice of allegations if that were the case.
Instead, the NCAA went public with its failures, meaning if the NCAA throws the book at Miami, it would be setting itself up for a massive countersuit. Expect the NCAA to issue a lot of talk but not a lot of firm sanctions.
A mess for NCAA
From the start, the NCAA has been behind in this investigation. The alleged improper benefits first were reported more than two years ago and the NCAA has spent countless hours building its case against Miami, only to watch it unravel when it apparently obtained some of its evidence improperly.
If I'm the NCAA, I just want to put this whole mess behind me.
The football program spent the last two seasons under a self-imposed bowl ban, which hurt the school financially and has been a PR nightmare. The NCAA should levy probation, a reduction of scholarships over the next couple of seasons and order Miami to pay a hefty fine. Be done with it and hopefully the NCAA can learn from its mistakes.
Punish Miami and NCAA
Los Angeles Times
If this were a legal case the judge probably would declare a mistrial. The NCAA's procedural errors, however, don't mean Miami should get off the hook either.
The good news for justice is that Miami already has self-imposed two years of bowl bans in advance of the outcome. You can't get those games back and there's enough evidence to suggest the Hurricanes don't deserve to walk.
It also is clear Mark Emmert's short tenure as NCAA president has been a disaster. Any scholarship losses imposed on Miami by the NCAA should be matched by a reduction in Emmert's staff. It's clear both these programs need a probationary period.
No clean getaway
As cowed as the NCAA might be by its investigators' misdeeds, it also doesn't seem like an organization willing to consider the entire affair polluted. Hard to believe it will start from scratch in poking around Miami and the sordid Nevin Shapiro affair, which means it knows what it knows after months of inquiry.
I figure the NCAA knows it's likely to get sued, by someone. So the organization might go conservative on individual punishments and still issue stiff penalties to the school, reducing scholarships and erasing records and maybe accepting the postseason restrictions already imposed as sufficient enough.
It won't be a clean getaway for Miami. It just won't be worse than imagined.