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      === NCAA hits Miami with scholarship penalties, but no bowl ban ===
 Coral  Gables, FL  ( - Miami-Florida can play in a bowl game
 this  year  after the NCAA  announced penalties stemming from an investigation
 into booster-related activities.
 The Hurricanes will lose three football scholarships in each of the next three
 seasons for a total of nine, but this year's team will finally be able to play
 in  the postseason  after the  school had  self-imposed a  bowl ban  since the
 investigation officially began in August 2011.
 Miami,  which is off  to a 6-0 start this year, sat out the postseason in 2011
 and  again last year.  The Hurricanes would have reached the ACC title game in
 2012,  but  the university  decided to  continue its  postseason ban while the
 investigation dragged on.
 "The  Committee on  Infractions report  closes  a challenging  chapter in  the
 history  of the University of Miami," said school president Donna Shalala in a
 statement  Tuesday. "I am grateful to our coaches, staff, and student-athletes
 for  their  dedication to  the university and  to intercollegiate athletics. I
 also  want  to thank Atlantic  Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford for
 his  steadfast support.  Finally, I want to apologize to the Hurricane family,
 as  we  have asked  for your  patience, faith, and  support during a difficult
 time. Thank you for standing with us."
 The NCAA began looking into the football and basketball programs after reports
 surfaced  that players  were given gifts and extra benefits from booster Nevin
 Shapiro,  who  is now serving  a 20-year jail  sentence for running an alleged
 Ponzi scheme.
 Former  Miami  basketball coach  Frank  Haith,  currently  the head  coach  at
 Missouri,  was given  a five-game suspension from the NCAA for his role, while
 former  Miami  assistant basketball  coach Jorge Fernandez  was slapped with a
 two-year show-cause penalty.
 The  NCAA  also penalized Miami  one basketball  scholarship per year over the
 next three years and placed the athletic program on three years' probation.
 "Our  honest  and committed efforts to  address these allegations have made us
 stronger,"  said Hurricanes athletic director Blake James on Tuesday. "We have
 already  taken  many proactive steps  to ameliorate  any concerns, and we will
 continue  to improve  in all  areas. Now  it is  time we  look ahead  and work
 diligently to support our student-athletes."
 According  to  the  NCAA  report,  Shapiro  entertained  student-athletes  and
 prospects  at his home, on his yacht and in restaurants and clubs for a period
 of about a decade. Approximately 30 student-athletes were involved, while some
 coaches provided false information during the investigation.
 The  investigation itself had its problems. In February, the NCAA acknowledged
 that  some mistakes  were made by its own enforcement department. According to
 the  review, staff  enforcement members knowingly circumvented legal advice to
 engage  Shapiro's criminal defense attorney, violated the internal NCAA policy
 of   legal  counsel   and  did  not  sufficiently  consider  the  membership's
 understanding  about  the  limits  of the  enforcement  staff's  investigative
 Overall,  the NCAA  said 18 general allegations of misconduct were involved in
 the case and the school lacked institutional control related to the conduct of
 the booster.
 The  school self-imposed  numerous penalties, which the NCAA considered in its
 final  verdict, including the postseason football ban, paid visits by recruits
 and a reduction of the recruiting contact period.
 10/22 12:03:42 ET

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