After a week of deliberation on possible punishments, suspensions and whether the Hurricanes football team would be intact by the time the season started, the NCAA has made their decision regarding a number of student-athletes.
Eight Hurricanes will face suspensions and will have to repay benefits they received in order for the NCAA to rule them eligible to play.
Defensive end Olivier Vernon was given the harshest penalty; he will sit out six games and repay the $1,200 he received in benefits. Safety Ray-Ray Armstrong and tight end Dyron Dye both will sit out four games and return payments ($788 for Armstrong, $738 for Dye).
Five other players were suspended for one game and must repay smaller amounts as well. That list includes quarterback Jacory Harris, linebacker Sean Spence, defensive ends Marcus Forston and Adewale Ojomo, and receiver Travis Benjamin.
Cornerbacks Brandon McGee and JoJo Nicolas, defensive tackle Micanor Regis and safety Vaughn Telemaque are also required to pay back benefits they received. However, since each player’s benefits totaled less than $100 in value, none of them will be required to miss any games. Linebacker Marcus Robinson was fully cleared and will not face any NCAA penalties.
“The NCAA has informed the University of Miami of their decisions regarding the reinstatement of eight student-athletes who were declared ineligible by the university last week,” Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst said in a statement released by UM. “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. They understand that their actions demand consequences.”
During a teleconference call Wednesday afternoon, head coach Al Golden mentioned that the school was not currently pursuing an appeal process, but that any decision to appeal would be “up to the players and their families.”
“I support the NCAA, and I support the investigation,” Golden said. “I think our kids did a tremendous job being open and honest and I think [the NCAA] felt that.”
In regard to the quarterback competition between Harris and sophomore Stephen Morris, the latter will start against the Terrapins on Monday night, but that does not necessarily mean he will be the starter all season.
“The competition was really close and then got skewed toward the stretch because it looked like one was going to be ineligible and we didn’t know if he was going to be reinstated,” Golden said.
“That competition ended, so we’ll continue it after this game.”
Miami does have a bye week after its game at Maryland before it welcomes Ohio State to Sun Life Stadium.
The NCAA ruling on the individual players does not have any effect on the investigation that they are conducting on the university. The school is still subject to additional rulings, but that process generally takes approximately a year.
In other news, Golden also announced that senior wide receiver Aldarius Johnson has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.