The University of Miami, with possible NCAA sanctions looming in its future, took preemptive action and said on Sunday it would not accept a bowl invitation this season. The decision came one day after the Hurricanes earned their sixth victory of the season, making the team bowl-eligible.
“I’m clearly disappointed,” first-year coach Al Golden said. “The team is disappointed. Anybody would be disappointed and saddened, but I think our seniors will take the approach that they might take away this bowl game from us, but they’re not going to take away our spirit, they’re not going to take away our unity and they’re not going to take away our toughness.”
Nevertheless, he made it clear he supported the school’s decision.
“I believe it’s the right decision and I’m 100 percent behind the decision made by President Shalala and Shawn,” Golden said, referring to UM President Donna Shalala and athletic director Shawn Eichorst. “This is something we have to do to move the program forward.”
Could the difficulties of an NCAA and school investigation about improper gifts and payments to athletes by a booster chase Golden away after only one season on the job — a job he took without knowledge about the violations. Golden and the administration denied that could or would happen?
Said Golden of his future: “I don’t have any decisions to make. I’m just coaching the Miami Hurricanes and getting the team ready to go against Boston College and moving the program forward as I’ve said a million times. We really enjoy living here, my family and I. I’m excited about the direction we’re going. … We know we’re one step closer to putting these issues behind us. As sad as we are, it also gives us an opportunity to move forward and to move the program forward.”
Eichorst, calling the bowl ban a “necessary step,” said: “Coach Golden has been a tremendous leader under very difficult circumstances. He’s the real deal and we’re very fortunate to have him. I truly believe in my heart that I have one of the best football coaches in America and I plan on working with him side by side for a long, long time.”
The team was called in abruptly for an unexpected meeting Sunday afternoon and was informed of the school’s decision to not accept a bowl berth. Eichorst and Golden were among those in attendance.
It was made clear by Golden that the decision to turn down any bowl invitation was strictly made by the administration. Even though he said he concurred with the final outcome, he added, “None of it was my decision.”
Although more NCAA sanctions might await, Golden was positive about the future.
“The current players have been reinstated and paid their debt,” he said. “We understand there was wrongdoing. Now, as a team and a program, we feel like we’re paying our debt and we have a chance to put these issues behind us. So, that’s why I feel like it [the self-imposed bowl ban] is the right decision.”
The last time Miami self-imposed a bowl ban was in 1995 during a Pell Grant investigation.
Golden seemed particularly concerned about the seniors, who will play their last game as Hurricanes on Friday when Miami, 6-5 and 3-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, plays host to Boston College (3-8, 2-5 ACC).
“This game will be an opportunity for them to show the country what it’s like to be a Hurricane,” Golden said.
Golden was pleased Sunday that the right knee injury to offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson appears less serious than originally thought.
“I guess the results from his MRI are very positive right now,” Golden said, adding Henderson was doubtful for the Boston College game. “It doesn’t look like it will be a surgery deal. Great news for the young man.”
Source: Miami Herald