By TIM REYNOLDS, Associated Press
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Miami officials said Monday that the university is making what it called an "unprecedented decision" to self-impose a postseason ban for the second straight year, ending any chance of the Hurricanes playing in either the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game or a bowl.
Just like last year, Miami's decision was made with regard to the status of the ongoing NCAA investigation into the school's compliance practices. The inquiry began in 2011 after a former booster went public with allegations that he provided dozens of athletes and recruits with extra benefits such as cash and gifts.
By sitting out again, Miami — which still has not been presented with its notice of allegations from the NCAA — is hoping to lessen the hit of any looming sanctions that could be handed down when the investigation ends. Schools often self-impose penalties with hope that the NCAA takes those measures into account when doling out punishment.
Miami clearly hopes that a pair of postseason bans, especially when the Hurricanes still had a chance at a Bowl Championship Series berth this year, helps its cause with the NCAA. Whenever the process ends, sanctions against the football and men's basketball programs are expected, with penalties likely to include probation terms and scholarship reductions.
The university said interim athletic director Blake James informed the team of the decision Monday morning. University President Donna Shalala and the school's legal counsel were also involved in the decision.
"Considerable deliberation and discussion based on the status of the NCAA inquiry went into the decision-making process and, while acknowledging the impact that the decision will have on current student-athletes, coaches, alumni and fans, a determination was made that voluntarily withholding the football team from a second postseason was not only a prudent step for the University to take but will also allow for the football program and University to move forward in the most expedited manner possible," said the university's statement.
It continued, "The University and President Shalala have been clear from the start of the inquiry that Miami will cooperate fully and will seek the truth, no matter where the path might lead and that the institution will be stronger because of it. The University has already taken proactive measures to ensure more strict compliance with NCAA rules and continues to evaluate further steps."
On Saturday, after the Hurricanes (6-5) became bowl-eligible with a 40-9 win over South Florida, Miami coach Al Golden raved about how his team handled what has seemed like a never-ending amount of adversity.
"Come at me. Bury me all you want. Attack me all you want," Golden said. "These kids who have stuck it out, who have stayed here, who have never gotten one week in two years without hearing about all this nonsense, don't blame them. And I appreciate all those kids that not only stayed here, but those guys that answered the bell, that answered the call to come here and fix this. And we will get it fixed."
It's the first time since the 1981 and 1982 seasons that Miami will go consecutive years without a bowl trip. In 1983, the Hurricanes won the school's first of five national championships.
Schools that do not self-impose things like bowl bans when facing NCAA investigations often regret that decision. Most recently, Ohio State — still unbeaten — chose not to ban itself from a bowl last season, before the NCAA handed down punishments for the memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal. Instead of being in the mix for a BCS berth, and possibly a shot at the national title, the Buckeyes' season will end this weekend.
Miami's move, which was not unexpected, denies Miami the chance of playing in its first ACC title game — the Hurricanes almost certainly would have gotten there if they beat Duke — and also ends any chance that the team finishes its season playing what would amount to a home game at Sun Life Stadium, the site of the Orange Bowl.