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Time for 'The U' to go away?

Throughout the summer, there was talk of an August story coming from Yahoo. Investigative reporter Charles Robinson said it would be a “10,” and the speculation began. For some reason, almost everyone assumed it would involve an SEC team?

Senior Editor Phillip Marshall

Would it be Auburn and Cam Newton? LSU and Willie Lyles? Alabama players hanging out and eating out with the 50-something owner of a men’s clothing store? Maybe about the steady stream of Florida players going to and from the Gainesville lockup during Urban Meyer's tenure? All of the above?

The story finally came Tuesday, and it wasn’t about the SEC. It was about Miami, and calling it a 10 didn’t do it justice. It’s the most explosive expose on college football I’ve seen in my lifetime, real reporting done by a real journalist.

In a remarkably well-documented story, Robinson details literally thousands of violations involving dozens of players and coaches at Miami. There could be some collateral damage in the SEC. Two of the coaches involved are on Alabama’s staff. One is at Florida.

But this is about Miami and a program out of control. Again.

Convicted Ponzi schemer and superfan Nevin Shapiro, doing 20 years in the federal lockup, felt abandoned and decided to blow the whistle. He did some 100 hours of interviews. He provided a remarkable amount of documentation to Yahoo and to the NCAA.

The story is one of sleaze and slime, of prostitutes and strip clubs, cash being handed out like so much candy. It’s about a grown man buying access to 20-year-olds just so he could stand next to them, be seen with them.

It’s disgusting. Nauseating.

Miami has been in trouble before. In fact, if Shapiro is to be believed, he became a serial rules violator shortly after the last time the NCAA sought to bring Miami down a notch or two. And he kept right on until last year.

But this is different than the last time. This is systematic. If coaches and administrators at Miami claim they didn’t know anything was amiss, they are either lying or detached from reality.

Unless Miami officials can shoot lots of holes in Shapiro’s story – and that seems unlikely at this point – the NCAA will be faced with a scandal far bigger and uglier than the one that brought the death penalty down on SMU. The only saving grace for Miami might be that the governor wasn’t involved.

But should it even get that far?

Miami is one of the nation’s more prestigious academic universities, a school with standards so high that many non-athletes with almost perfect high school grade point averages are turned away. But that is lost in the smoke that boils now out of Coral Gables.

The Canes of the 1980s embarrassed the school with their antics on the field, but "The U" became synonomous with success. Then came the 1990s and violations that led to NCAA probation. And now comes what looks to be the biggest scandal in the history of the game.

No one looks at Miami and thinks scholars. People look at Miami and see a renegade program in more trouble than ever.

Miami’s mission is academic excellence. It has managed to have athletic excellence, too, particularly in football. But the price has become too high.

The academicians who run the real University of Miami, not the one portrayed on the football field, should consider calling the NCAA and saying “Keep your investigators in Indianapolis. They won’t be needed. We’re done with college football.”

There's no guarantee that the NCAA won't do it for them by the time this sordid mess is sorted out.

That’s how bad this is.

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