NCAA: 12 current Miami players accepted benefits
The NCAA announced findings Tuesday that 12 current Miami football players accepted extra benefits from booster Nevin Shapiro and suspended eight athletes for between one and six games.
Four other players must simply repay the amount of the benefits they received and will be eligible for the Hurricanes’ season opener Monday at Maryland.
The NCAA claimed the players “received varying levels of recruiting inducements and extra benefits from Shapiro and athletics personnel” including “meals, transportation, access to Shapiro’s game suite, drinks, as well as cover charges at two different nightclubs, among others.”
[Y! Sports probe: Booster spells out illicit benefits to players]
The allegations were first detailed in a Yahoo! Sports investigation published Aug. 16. Shapiro, currently serving 20 years in prison for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme, said at least 72 current and former Miami players accepted improper benefits from 2002-2010. At least seven Miami coaches had knowledge of or participated in the rule-breaking, according to Shapiro.
Of the current players, defensive lineman Olivier Vernon will miss six games and have to repay more than $1,200. Safety Ray-Ray Armstrong and tight end Dyron Dye will sit out four games. Armstrong must repay $788, Dye $738. Five others, defensive lineman Marcus Forston, linebacker Sean Spence, defensive lineman Adewale Ojomo, receiver Travis Benjamin and quarterback Jacory Harris will miss just one game. Forston must repay more than $400, Spence about $275, Ojomo $240, Benjamin more than $150 and Harris more than $140.
Cornerback Brandon McGee, Safety JoJo Nicolas, defensive tackle Micanor Regis and safety Vaughn Telemaque were all found to have accepted less than $100 in benefits and must only repay the amount. They will not miss any games. Defensive end Marcus Robinson was investigated but not penalized by the NCAA.
The school also announced wide receiver Aldarius Johnson was suspended indefinitely by coach Al Golden for a violation of team rules.
[Photo gallery: Miami booster parties with athletes]
“The student-athletes involved have acknowledged receiving improper benefits and will now be responsible for restitution and, in some cases, the student-athletes will also serve game suspensions,” Miami director of athletics Shawn Eichorst said in a statement. “They understand that their actions demand consequences.”
The joint NCAA/Miami investigation into Shapiro’s actions as a booster from 2002 until 2010 remains ongoing. Tuesday’s ruling concerned the eligibility of only current student athletes and not the culpability, if any, of the university, former administrators or former players.
It should allow first-year coach Golden and the current team to move past the Shapiro scandal and begin planning with certainty for the upcoming season.
“We will be more vigilant in our compliance and continue to work with the NCAA on the joint investigation to determine the facts,” Eichorst said.
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