NCF On The Trail: 102213-Miami-sanctions

Miami pledges happy about NCAA ruling 

October, 22, 2013
Braxton Berrios was intrigued, but hardly worried. He did not expect the NCAA to alter his future Tuesday when it announced its long-awaited sanctions on Miami.

Now that Miami will not face any further bowl bans and will lose only nine total scholarships over the next three seasons, Berrios is ready to move on to Coral Gables, Fla., with the rest of Miami’s top-five 2014 recruiting class.

Trent Harris
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTrent Harris is excited that the uncertainty about NCAA sanctions at Miami is over.
“It’s great to be a Miami Hurricane,” the four-star receiver from Raleigh (N.C.) Leesville Road said. “I’m glad this 2-year investigation is over and the university as well can move on.”

Miami is 6-0 and No. 7 in the initial BCS standings, and ESPN 300 defensive end commit Trent Harris (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) believes the news of the NCAA sanctions had benefits in the present and future.

The Canes’ self-imposed postseason ban kept them from competing for an ACC title in 2012, but they are in the driver’s seat for a conference championship in 2013.

“Well, I think it’s great that they weren’t banned from any bowl games and I know that the current players on the team just got an extra boost of excitement,” Harris said. “I just can’t wait to go out there and win a national championship."

Miami coach Al Golden has told recruits not to worry about the NCAA, and they heeded his advice. Top target Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer), No. 42 in the ESPN 300, told the Palm Beach Post’s Anthony Chiang he “wasn’t too worried about the Miami sanctions.”

Asked if he was concerned the NCAA’s decision could impact his verbal commitment and future with the program, Berrios said, “Not really.”

“I figured they wouldn’t get much. Al Golden played a great part as well as [Miami president Donna Shalala] in assuring Miami did all they could to minimize the sanctions,” Berrios said.

There is some anger by Miami fans and coaches. There is some relief. And in the recruiting offices in Coral Gables, Fla., there is celebration.

The NCAA handed down its sanctions on the Hurricanes' program Tuesday, and the term “slap on the wrist” is being thrown around to describe the minimal impact it will have on Al Golden’s ability to recruit at Miami. Over the next three classes, Miami will lose a total of nine scholarships, a hurdle about the size of a stack of dimes.

[+] EnlargeJohnnie Dixon
Tom Hauck for Student SportsAfter NCAA sanctions were announced, there's still room in Miami's recruiting class for ESPN 300 receiver Johnnie Dixon, who is considering the Hurricanes.
As four-star receiver commit Braxton Berrios put it, Miami is “full speed ahead now.”

Even with the black clouds of the NCAA hovering over Miami for much of the 2014 class, Golden was able to secure 26 commitments -- 11 in the ESPN 300 -- and has the Hurricanes with the No. 4 class nationally. Golden and the Miami administration did wonders in the past couple of classes, easing recruits’ fears about any additional penalties on top of Miami’s self-imposed bowl ban. But for some targets, there was always a level of concern about significant sanctions being levied.

Those questions are now answered, and Golden and his staff can resume the role as coaches and recruiters fully instead of trying to wear the NCAA hat, too.

The Hurricanes have played second fiddle to Florida and Florida State on the recruiting front the past five years, finishing third among the big three in the rankings in the past four classes. Not since 2008, when Miami signed the No. 1 class, did the Hurricanes finish ahead of both the Gators and Seminoles in the recruiting rankings. In the past few classes, Florida and Florida State were able to tell Sunshine State prospects about the potential of the NCAA hammering Miami. These minimal sanctions almost level the recruiting field with their in-state rivals.

Miami has already been accounting for the scholarship reductions, as well. According to the Miami Herald, the Canes entered 2013 with 76 scholarship players, 19 of them seniors. If Miami signs 28, which is what the Canes hope for with Johnnie Dixon and Anthony Moten rounding out the class, that would bring Miami to 85 scholarships and would put the Canes in a good position to get down to 82 before the 2014 season.