Miami Football: Could Canes Face the Death Penalty?

Daniel BarnesCorrespondent IIIAugust 17, 2011

Nevin Shapiro may single-handedly bring down the University of Miami's football program. With pages and pages of documentation, Miami already knows that the NCAA is going to hit them hard, but how hard?

There is a very real chance that the NCAA could do what they did with SMU—sentence them to the death penalty.

While this may sound extreme, it could happen. In the past year, the NCAA has dealt with the Cam Newton pay for play scandal, Ohio State's Tattoo-Gate, USC's payment of Reggie Bush and his family, as well as the numerous violations from North Carolina. The NCAA may think that enough is enough and that a school has to be made an example of.

If it's gonna be anyone, it'll be Miami. The reported violations, if they turn out to be all true, are actually worse than those at SMU in the 80's.

Example: Shapiro claims that he took an unnamed recruit to a strip club, paid the stripper to have sex with him, and then paid for the stripper to get an abortion when she became pregnant. In total, Shapiro named 39 players to whom he provided prostitutes.

That is not only an improper benefit, and therefore a violation of NCAA rules, it is also a huge problem from a public relations standpoint, both for the University of Miami and the NCAA. When violations involve words like "prostitution" and "abortion," you're dealing with something on a whole different level than free tattoos.

To make things worse, eight former Miami players have confirmed receiving improper benefits from Shapiro, according to the Yahoo report. The story has also been confirmed by dozens of third party sources. Shapiro claims that he gave improper benefits in the form of cash, jewelry and prostitutes, among other things, to 72 players. The violations also include seven coaches and three support staffers.

With so many allegations, and with so many corroborators, Shapiro's claims are starting to look very real. There is a real chance that they could all be true, which means a potentially devastating hit to Miami's football program, which makes USC's punishment look like a slap on the wrist.

The NCAA's repeat violator rule, aka "the death penalty," is supposed to be used for those who repeatedly violate NCAA rules, get caught, get punished, and do it again. However, the NCAA has the power to ban schools from competing in a particular sport without preliminary sanctions if the violation is serious enough.

Miami's alleged violations are the most serious that any school has been accused of since 1986, and the argument can be made that they are in fact worse. If the NCAA is going to use the death penalty again, they will use it against Miami.

In the end, I think that the dreaded "death penalty" will not be used. What is more likely is a huge cut in scholarships, television black outs, bowl ineligibility, and perhaps player bans. They may not kill the program, but it'll be enough to turn Miami into a basement dweller for years.