Source: Up to 13 Miami players ineligible

Updated: August 26, 2011, 11:49 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Miami has declared a number of its football players ineligible until they are reinstated by the NCAA.

A source close to the team confirmed to ESPN.com's Heather Dinich that the Hurricanes had declared ineligible up to 13 players under investigation by the NCAA in order to allow it to make a ruling by the season opener.

Miami's internal investigation has determined some players, including quarterback Jacory Harris, are believed to have committed NCAA violations by associating with booster Nevin Shapiro and have been declared ineligible, a person with knowledge of the process told The Associated Press.

Shapiro is a convicted Ponzi-scheme architect serving a 20-year prison sentence for bilking $930 million from investors, and his claims have cast a long shadow over Miami's season before it even begins.

Miami coach Al Golden confirmed the move Friday morning without revealing the number of reinstatements being sought, saying the school sent paperwork to the NCAA on Thursday to begin the process.

"They're eligible to practice," Golden said Friday. "We have filed paperwork to the NCAA as of late last night, which is part of the normal process. ... The only entity that can reinstate them is the NCAA. So now we've done our part. We're waiting. Of course, there's going to be follow-ups from the NCAA standpoint. We've done our part from this end, and it's up to the NCAA to reinstate them."

Being declared ineligible now doesn't necessarily mean a player would miss any time this season, however. Golden said he wasn't allowed to discuss specifics about the players who have been declared ineligible.

"It's an ongoing investigation," Golden said. "I'm not allowed to comment on that. Again, we've been most respectful to the process here from the NCAA and been extremely cooperative, so I'm not going to deviate from that path right now."

Under NCAA rules, when a school finds violations have occurred, the athlete typically is declared ineligible and the NCAA begins a reinstatement process. The NCAA also will decide if that player needs to miss any games. And the clock is running: Miami opens the season at Maryland on Sept. 5.

"The school must declare the student-athlete ineligible and then can seek reinstatement," NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said.

The NCAA will decide not only if the players can be reinstated, but what penalty they need to serve, if any. Being suspended for games is a common penalty in eligibility-related matters, though if the violations are deemed to be small, sometimes players receive sanctions that do not include missing any time.

On Thursday, Golden suggested the depth chart might not be announced until Tuesday. All of the players implicated by Shapiro in a story published by Yahoo! Sports were practicing Thursday, and have been on the field throughout the process.

"We'll make sure we practice enough guys because we really don't know what the future brings," Golden said Thursday. "Hopefully we'll find out pretty quickly here in the near future if there are any penalties or suspensions, and we'll adjust accordingly."

Golden said he has a plan for which personnel to use against the Terrapins. And another plan, just in case. And, well, another plan, in case things change some more.

"All of the above," Golden said.

Harris and all other Miami players implicated by claims that Shapiro provided dozens of Hurricanes with extra benefits such as cash, cars, gifts and prostitutes for the better part of a decade returned to the practice field Thursday after a brief break for the start of the academic year.

University officials haven't commented publicly on the specifics of the process. Miami president Donna Shalala said this week that 15 student-athletes -- she did not specify names or teams -- were being investigated by university compliance personnel. Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports that he provided benefits to 72 athletes, 65 of whom played football for Miami. Of those 72, 12 are current football players, and one is a member of the men's basketball team.

"We're going about our business," Golden said. "Obviously some of the players that are alleged to have done something are guys that have played a lot of football for us, so obviously there's going to be some adjustments if there are suspensions. Other than that, we're just moving forward and the kids have been great."

Besides Harris, the other football players named by Shapiro for a story published by Yahoo! Sports last week are Sean Spence, Vaughn Telemaque, Ray Ray Armstrong, Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson, Marcus Forston, Olivier Vernon, Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, Dyron Dye and JoJo Nicholas.

For the portion of practice open to media Friday, neither Dye nor Nicholas was seen on the field. The reason for Dye's absence is unclear. Nicholas has been dealing for several days with the death of a prematurely born child.

"We'll fight through this," Golden said. "Hurricanes always have."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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