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Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Report: Miami approaches Al Golden

ESPN.com news services

Miami has made "overtures" to football coach Al Golden about restructuring his contract amid the scandal that engulfed the football program shortly after he took the job, his agent told CBSSports.com.

At least one school official has approached Golden about his contract, agent Brett Senior said, according to the report.

"I know he was teed off. He had come there with great aspirations, the way recruiting class was shaping up," Senior said of Golden. "He likes to coach football and likes to lead young men. This is something he shouldn't have had to deal with and should have been made aware of."

Months after Golden succeeded Randy Shannon at Miami, a Yahoo! Sports investigation uncovered multiple allegations of improper benefits provided to Miami players and recruits by Nevin Shapiro, a former booster. Shapiro, who pleaded guilty to running a nearly $1 billion Ponzi scheme, is serving a 20-year federal prison sentence.

"I will say this. We've got options available to us," Senior said when asked if there is an escape clause in Golden's contract that would be triggered by NCAA sanctions against the Hurricanes.

Tuesday, Miami athletic director Shawn Eichorst said he does not know when the NCAA will complete its investigation, adding that he's "only looking forward" and not fixating on any possible sanctions the Hurricanes may face.

Eichorst did not divulge how much, if anything, he knew about the scandal when he got hired, but said he is committed to long-term goals at Miami and indicated that Golden feels the same way.

"He is extremely excited to be the coach at the University of Miami," Eichorst said. "His family loves being here. And why would you not? The University of Miami is as good as it gets, if you're going to get involved with college football. And we will get back there. We have high expectations. We talk about the positive things, the optimistic things, the things that we know we can get done. It doesn't do us any good to talk about the rest of the stuff."

Eichorst said he speaks with Golden daily, and that he "couldn't be more excited" about what Golden and his staff have done so far at Miami.

But when the topic turned to Golden's contract status, a hot-button issue Tuesday after Senior told the university about Golden's reported desire to adjust his deal, Eichorst declined comment.

"I'm not going to talk about personnel matters. ... We have an excellent football coach in Al Golden," Eichorst said.

The AD spoke out for the first time since the scandal centered around the actions of Shapiro broke in August, but he was extremely guarded in his comments, declining to even say if the football team -- which is at the epicenter of the scandal -- will go to a bowl game if they are eligible.

It's possible that Miami may elect to self-impose certain sanctions, including a bowl ban or loss of a small number of scholarships, ahead of any NCAA penalties, although the school has never said if it is even considering any such moves.

"We're continuing to cooperate," Eichorst said. "And I believe that the NCAA is very pleased with the level of cooperation they've not only received from the institution, but more importantly from the cooperation they've received from some of the student-athletes that have been interviewed and reinstated up to this point."

The NCAA said on Aug. 30 that 12 football players who were declared ineligible by the university may return to the field this season after completing some conditions: four were ordered to pay back amounts of less than $100, and eight others repaid larger fines and faced suspensions of either one, four or six games. A 13th player was vindicated and did not face any penalty.

There has not been a ruling yet on men's basketball player DeQuan Jones. Shapiro, the former booster and convicted Ponzi scheme architect, told Yahoo! Sports for a story published in August that he provided Miami coaches with $10,000 in cash to secure Jones' commitment to the Hurricanes, and later got the money back.

Eichorst isn't sure when the Hurricanes will know Jones' status. Jones will not play until the NCAA decides his case.

"He has cooperated. We have cooperated," Eichorst said. "I hope sooner than later we can figure out where we're going to be."

Eichorst and Golden are in similar positions, in that they're facing a mess that was created long before they joined the Hurricanes.

Both arrived at Miami (Golden in December 2010, Eichorst this past April) long after Shapiro's involvement with the university ended.

Shapiro is serving a 20-year prison term after federal prosecutors said he masterminded a $930 million investment scam. Golden has said he did not know about the possibility of Miami facing NCAA trouble when he took the job.

"I'm not making any excuses. I'm not asking anybody to feel sorry for me or anybody else," Eichorst said, talking about how the NCAA probe is overshadowing all that he believes is going right at Miami. "I've got a job to do and I'm only looking forward. I'm not looking backwards. So if folks want to come along with me, fine. If they don't, that's fine, too."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.