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Miami flirting with the death penalty?

The party in Coral Gables could be coming to an end.

No player on the University of Miami football team has been suspended, first-year Hurricanes’ coach Al Golden told reporters Wednesday, but you can be sure that the hammer will come down on Miami at some point in the near future.

Former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year sentence for his part in a $930 million Ponzi scheme, said to Yahoo! Sports that 72 of Miami’s athletes had received improper benefits from him between 2002 and 2010. Shapiro is alleged to have given players money, cars, trips on his yacht and other gifts.

The Yahoo! Sports story is not new to the NCAA. NCAA president Mark Emmert told ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning that the University had been under investigation for several months.

If the allegations are true, the penalties could be stiff. In fact, Miami, which has been in trouble with the NCAA before, could be considered a repeat offender. Such a classification could warrant the death penalty. Numerous infractions that began during the Dennis Erickson era (1989-1994) resulted in a reduction of 31 scholarships over a three-year period. Miami also received a one-year bowl ban in 1996.

The last, and only, Division I-A football program to get hit with the death penalty was SMU, which was forced to shut down its operations for the 1987 season. Citing the severity of losing the 1987 season, SMU didn’t play football in 1988 either. SMU has had just three winning seasons since coming back from the death penalty in 1989.

Other programs that have received the NCAA death penalty include Kentucky basketball in 1952, the Morehouse (Division II) soccer program in 2004 and 2005, Louisiana-Lafayette men’s basketball program in 1973-74 and 1974-95 and the MacMurray (Division III) men’s tennis team in 2005-06 and 2006-07.


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