Athletics, Shalala, Sports

Shalala inherits strong football program

Reflecting on a university president’s tenure without looking at athletics is an impossible feat, especially at a school with an athletic history like UM’s. President Donna E. Shalala stood by the university amid controversy and difficult times in the athletic department.

Men’s and women’s basketball along with football get the most media attention, so their success could mean more funding and bolster support. While the basketball programs have taken an upward turn, football has struggled during Shalala’s tenure.

In her first year as president, Shalala inherited a national championship-winning football program. The Canes won their fifth national championship shortly after her inauguration.

In 2004, the university left the Big East Conference and joined the ACC which changed the competition. In another big move, the Canes left the crumbling Orange Bowl in favor of playing at SunLife Stadium.

The stadium was in need of renovations, and when the plans to fix it up fell through, Shalala was forced to make the executive decision to relocate, leaving behind a major part of UM history. The Orange Bowl was demolished in 2008 and replaced by Marlins Park.

The football program has been shaking off the stigma from the NCAA investigation that went on for over two years when former booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro decided to go public about Miami’s violation of NCAA rules. To lessen the NCAA punishment, the university self-imposed bowl bans from 2011 to 2013.

Billy Corben, director and producer of ESPN films 30 for 30 documentaries “The U” and “The U: Part 2,” does not feel that Shalala fully took responsibility for protecting students during the Shapiro scandal.

“In their shameless fundraising zeal, they first exploited the student-athletes and then, when time came for accountability, scapegoated them,” Corben said. “I think history will still be quite kind to her tenure, which began with a national championship in football and ended with a multi-million dollar real estate scheme to build a Walmart on endangered forest land. What could be more Miami than that?”

When it was revealed that the NCAA had improperly handled the investigation, Shalala felt that the university was being bullied and stood up in defense of Miami.

“Many of the charges brought forth are based on the word of a man who made a fortune by lying,” Shalala said in a statement in 2013. “The NCAA enforcement staff acknowledged to the university that if Nevin Shapiro, a convicted con man, said something more than once, it considered the allegation ‘corroborated’ – an argument which is both ludicrous and counter to legal practice.”

After the investigation and subsequent loss of scholarships, the football program has struggled. Fans who were frustrated with the lack of success and entire scandal were calling for head coach Al Golden to be fired.

Athletics_info

Even with this setback, football program does have a winning record of 116-60 since Shalala took the job.

Though football was a source of unrest in athletics, the basketball programs have both improved.

Men’s Basketball coach Jim Larrañaga took his team to the NCAA tournament in the 2012-13 season and made it as high as No. 2 in the country, giving fans something to root for after a lackluster football season. It was at this time when the news of an improper investigation came out and Shalala released her statement.

Of the field and court, Shalala has supported athletics in other ways.

In raising money for the athletic program over the years, the Schwartz Athletic Center was opened in 2013 to provide academic and personal help for athletes.

Shalala is also known for her presence at sporting events. Earlier this month, she supported the women’s tennis team against UNC.

According to Athletic Director Blake James, Shalala has been the UM Athletics’ biggest supporter.

“Though her departure will be a loss, we are a better university because of her,” James said in a statement.

April 22, 2015

Reporters

Mark Singer

Courtney Fiorini


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

View photos as Miami Hurricanes Coach Jim Morris ends 41-year career on Saturday, May 19, 2018, at M ...

The sullen, charcoal sky opened with a vengeance Saturday afternoon at Mark Light Field in Coral Gab ...

Hurricanes football aficionados: How does another College GameDay at the University of Miami campus ...

Get out your calendars once again, UM football fans. The Atlantic Coast Conference has announced the ...

Lonnie Walker IV, so eager to begin his professional basketball career that he left the University o ...

A snapshot guide to the start of summer in and around UM. ...

Former investment banker Charmel Maynard leads UM’s investments and treasury functions. ...

Over his more than two decades at the U, the dean of students from 1976-1989 always put students fir ...

The final Sea Secrets lecture at the Rosenstiel School examines the biofluorescence of marine organi ...

Maintenance mechanic Milton Davis has kept UM housing humming for decades. ...

No. 7 seed Miami opens its run at the 2018 ACC Baseball Championship Tuesday, May 22 against No. 11 ...

After 25 years, head coach Jim Morris had just one request for the pregame festivities for his final ...

In honor of Jim Morris' final regular season game as head coach at Miami on Saturday, May 19, t ...

Sophomore righthander Evan McKendry struck out 11 to help lead the Hurricanes to their 10thstraight ...

Check out over 60 of the top pictures from the Miami women's tennis team's matchup with to ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.