The Miami Hurricanes baseball squad lost more than just a baseball game this weekend.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) placed the program on two years probation, after investigating some of the team’s recruiting process.
According to NCAA rules, the team committed infractions through a sports club and conditioning program that was co-owned by Hurricanes pitching Coach Lazaro Collazo. It was determined that the club had allowed prospective student-athletes to train and show off their abilities to Miami baseball.
In addition to the two years of probation, the team will lose 4.66 scholarships over the next three years at a rate of 1.55 scholarships per season.
The reported violations have been under investigation since 1999 and have also reported findings of further infractions by the staff.
The NCAA found that financial aid limits imposed upon the Hurricanes by the organization in 1995 were exceeded. Other luxuries, which included boat rides on Biscayne Bay for student athletes and families, were provided and accompanied by department staff in breach of NCAA regulations.
These developments come in light of other recent sports infringements to the University of Miami athletic program. Miami Athletic Director Paul Dee commented on the department’s recent actions.
“The athletic department takes full responsibility for the actions of its staff members,” Dee said. “We accept the penalties and are committed to the enforcement of NCAA rules.”
In addition to the sanctions, Miami also lost Collazo due to the infringements. The former Hurricanes’ reliever, who entered his 18th season as UM’s pitching coach, resigned effective last Friday.
Before the season, head coach Jim Morris made a statement about the importance of having Collazo as a part of the team.
“University of Miami baseball has been built around pitching for many years,” Morris said. “Lazer brings a philosophy of sound mechanics and a focus on the mental side of pitching to our staff. He has proven over the years that pitching equals wins and thus our program is built on this philosophy.”
Throughout his time as coach, Collazo has produced and developed many major league prospects. In 2001, his entire rotation was drafted when Brian Walker (NY Mets), Tom Farmer (Detroit Tigers) and Kiki Bengochea (Texas Rangers) left the team as national champions to begin their respective pro careers.
A new pitching coach has not yet been appointed for the ‘Canes. Until somebody takes the job, Morris and assistant coach Greg Lovelady will share the duties.
The players hanged Callazo’s jersey on the back wall of the Hurricane’s dugout this weekend.
“It isn’t really my decision whether the jersey stays up all season long right now,” Morris said. “As long as the guys want to play with it there, it will stay there. Obviously emotions are high right now. Lazer will be missed.”
-Ryan Ellis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org