Not that Hurricane fans were savoring their postseason options, but with bowl eligibility in the bank following Saturday's 6-3 triumph over South Florida, Miami is officially electing to stay home for the holidays. Per the official university release:
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The University of Miami has made the decision to withhold the UM football team from bowl consideration following the 2011 regular season in response to the ongoing NCAA inquiry and has informed both the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference of its decision.
We understand and share the disappointment that our student-athletes, coaches, staff, supporters and fans are feeling but after lengthy discussions among University leaders, athletic administrators and outside counsel, it is a necessary step for our University. The University of Miami has not self-imposed any other penalties.
It's probably safe to add "yet" to the end of that last sentence: The dozens of NCAA violations alleged by former booster turned convicted Ponzi-schemer Nevin Shapiro represent arguably the most sprawling, in-depth account of corruption in the history of college sports. Over the course of nearly a decade, Shapiro built a not-so-subtle web of excess that reportedly included at least 66 current and former Miami players, 25 former draft picks, seven former assistant coaches with "knowledge or direct participation" in violating NCAA rules and even two first-round picks who signed on to an agency Shapiro co-owned — all of them corroborated by additional witnesses and/or documents. Eight of the 16 current 'Canes named in Yahoo! Sports' initial report in August have missed at least one game this season, one of the reasons it's taken so long to get to the requisite six wins for bowl eligibility. (Five losses by a touchdown or less hasn't advanced the cause, either.)
Before the self-imposed ban, Miami was likely in line for the Music City Bowl in Nashville or Independence Bowl in Shreveport, from which 'Cane partisans were probably planning to avoid in droves, anyway. As potential penalties go, skipping a third-rate bowl game is among the least of their worries. And as a preemptive strike against future sanctions, it's almost certainly just the beginning.