We start our trip through the dirtiest programs of the modern era of infractions with a mild surprise: how did The U -- a program with a real, national reputation for recruiting thugs and miscreants -- end up so far down the list?
The answer is surprisingly simple: while Hurricane players might have been unable to avoid embarrassing Miami and its fans, the university itself has stayed mostly off of the NCAA's radar, with only one major infraction since 1987. What sets Miami apart from the dozens of other schools with a single violation in the last two decades was the severity of it. The Hurricanes' trip before the Committee on Infractions in 1995 involved years of ill-gotten financial aid and what the NCAA refers to as "pay for play".
Ironically enough, Miami was probably saved from a higher ranking by the severity of their violations. The December 1995 decision by the Committee on Infractions involved violations ranging going as far back as 1989 and continuing through 1994. In fact, Miami themselves reported the initial violations in June of 1991, so what took the NCAA so long?
A Federal investigation.
After hearing reports that university employees helped players fraudulently get Pell Grants, the Feds requested that the university stop its investigation while they did their own. Several years later the university was allowed to resume their internal investigation, but only after 60 student athletes were sent through the pretrial-diversion program to avoid criminal charges and a staff member pled guilty. All told, nearly a quarter of a million dollars in financial aid was fraudulently obtained for Miami football players.
While this was going on, players at Miami continued administering a long-running pool for on-the-field performance. According to the NCAA, players contributed money to a pool and then gave the proceeds to whichever player was deemed to have made the best tackle during the game. Now, one can quibble about whether this kind of thing should be against the rules, but it is, and it went on for nearly six years, with the coaches being aware of it for a portion of that time and taking no actions to stop it.The NCAA also found there to be some troubles with The U not following their own drug testing and enforcement policy.
In short, had the feds not gotten involved, this probably would've turned into two (at least) separate infractions, with the attendant points for them. So, Miami goes on a tear of nearly a decade of rule-breaking (which included the entirety of Dennis Erickson's tenure as Head Coach); what were the consequences?
Miami was given three years of probation, banned from post-season play for one year, and they were stripped of 31 initial scholarships over three seasons. A pretty light sentence, all things considered.
- Unethical Conduct (5 points)
- Lack of Institutional Control (10 points)
- Probation: 3 years (6 points)
- Post-season ban: 1 year (3 points)
- Initial Scholarships: 31 (15.5 points)
- Scholarship Cap Reduction: 15 (3.75 points)
- TOTAL SCORE: 43.25 points