The University of Miami lied to me. They lied to everyone. They swore that they had cleaned up their program. They lied. In another article, I detailed how Yahoo! engaged in what I believe to be intellectual dishonesty to drive up the number of players involved in the scandal. And I stand by that.
But no one, not even the most naive and ardent ‘Canes fan, can argue that the program did not commit major violations. Yes, much of Yahoo!’s evidence is dubious and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, but some of it surely does. Extra benefits galore. Involving coaches, players and athletic staff. All of that is proven with very substantial, quality evidence.
And that’s why I feel betrayed. I identify with the University of Miami. It’s my home in many ways. I feel proud when I see that “U”. All my siblings went there. I met my best friends there. I wear it on my sleeve.
I also donate money to the school, which makes me a booster. Each year, I receive compliance letters instructing me not to have contact with athletes. I am told that the University takes this stuff very seriously. That they have cleaned up their act since the renegade 80s and early 90s. And I am proud of that.
Or I was, because it was absolutely a crock of shit. On some level, we all know this sort of thing goes on. I am not naive. The team has had a horrendous past 10 years on the field. But off the field, in the classroom, and on the arrest blotter, I was still proud of my ‘Canes. This derelict Athletic Department has robbed me of that. My friends would talk about the old ‘Canes, and I assured them it wasn’t like that anymore. Sure, I am sure minor stuff is going on, but I had plenty of proof to back up my assertion:
- Players weren’t getting in trouble.
- The graduation rate at the school skyrocketed for athletes.
- The team sucked. How could we be cheating and be that bad? In fact, one of my friends is a Wisconsin fan, and told to me, “You guys need to start cheating again. You clearly cleaned up the program, but now you suck”.
It was all lie. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out there was massive, systemic academic fraud to graduate our players (Note to Yahoo!: This is me speculating with no basis for this claim. Please do not write an article titled “Miami Booster alleges academic fraud”.)
What our athletic department has stolen from me, from us, is our credibility, forever. We actually did clean up the program for a while. Butch Davis did that. Shapiro, even in his admitted attempt to get UM the death penalty, only accuses UM of accusations starting in 2002. So, we actually managed to clean up our program and win the 2001 National Championship without any accusations of impropriety. But that doesn’t matter. It will never matter now. Go back to 2001, and you will see laudatory articles about the new, clean Miami. And those articles were accurate at the time. But the next year, they no longer were. If this program survives this scandal (which is a legitimate question at this juncture), no one will ever believe the program is clean again.
And I won’t either. Our ex-athletic director had the nerve to accuse USC of not monitoring their players? Is this a joke? It was funny at the time, of course. But we aren’t laughing now. Our school president, who I have always been a huge supporter of, had the gall to constantly talk up our ethics, and I bought it hook, line and sinker. We refused to take “shady” characters as coaches, supposedly. Meanwhile, those same “clean” coaches were taking recruits to a booster’s house, accepting payments that were counter to NCAA rules, and overall violating multiple NCAA bylaws left and right.
As our basketball and football programs simultaneously sputtered into irrelevancy, I always managed to hold my head up. Still proud of “The U”, proud of the ethical changes we made, proud of the tough choices to raise academic standards above the minimum requirements because we cared about the athletes well being.
We always looked to the Ohio States’ the USCs, the Floridas, the Florida States and said, “well, at least we don’t get our team arrested like that, or cheat like that”. I don’t put any stock in Yahoo!’s 72 players number for reasons highlighted in an earlier article. But, given the solid proof that they did provide (reading the Vince Wilfork stuff is cringe-worthy), I can unequivocally say that over the past decade, the University of Miami has been the dirtiest program in the country. I don’t think I can put into words how much it hurts me to type that. I never had a win at all costs mentality. Now, apparently, we tried to employ that mentality and still lost, all the while sticking our noses up at the world about how clean our program was.
I was a ringleader in that, buoyed by assurances from the school president, various athletic directors and various coaches. And I was duped. I feel like a fool, but I also can say, for the first time in my life, I am ashamed to be associated with the University of Miami.