CORAL GABLES — Miami is looking into the eligibility of 15 current athletes who might have accepted improper benefits from a former booster.
UM president Donna Shalala did not name any of the players in a video statement Monday. The ex-booster, imprisoned Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro, told Yahoo Sports for a story published last week that 12 current football players and one men's basketball player got money, gifts and other items from him as part of a larger distribution of illicit benefits that included more than 70 UM athletes in all over eight years.
"The (investigation) process … must be deliberate and thorough to ensure its integrity," Shalala said.
Shapiro named 12 football players: QB Jacory Harris, Vaughn Telemaque, Ray Ray Armstrong, Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson, Marcus Forston, Olivier Vernon, Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, Dyron Dye, JoJo Nicholas and Sean Spence. Shapiro also said he paid $10,000 to ensure that basketball player DeQuan Jones signed with the Hurricanes.
Citing the investigation, school officials would not say if any of those players have been cleared to play or who the additional players linked to the investigation are. The university wants to decide the status of the football players by the end of this week.
The team Monday held a closed scrimmage, which coach Al Golden said would be the final audition of sorts for players trying to make the 60-person travel roster for the Sept. 5 opener at Maryland.
"We have a lot of decisions to make over the next 48 hours, not just the quarterbacks but the travel squad and the two-deep," Golden said in videotaped comments UM released. He did not address anything related to the NCAA investigation.
USF: Holtz speaks Irish
TAMPA — USF coach Skip Holtz returns to his alma mater when the Bulls open the season Sept. 3 at Notre Dame, and the second-year coach was asked on a teleconference how often he thinks about the possibility of eventually becoming the coach in South Bend, Ind.
"I think you have to control what you can control, and I don't have any control over whether that happens," Holtz said. "I've never applied, tried to apply, sent in a resume, made phone calls to try to get a foot in the door. … The best thing I can do right now is coach at South Florida. I enjoy it here. My family's very happy here."
Holtz's father, Lou, coached 11 seasons at Notre Dame, winning a national title in 1988.
THIS AND THAT: A turnout of 450 supporters at $125 a plate attended the program's first football kickoff dinner at the A La Carte Pavilion in Tampa, with both Holtzes entertaining the audience. … Senior C Chaz Hine will be part of the opening coin toss at Saturday night's Bucs exhibition against Miami at Raymond James Stadium.
Greg Auman, Times staff writer
FSU: Smarts questioned
TALLAHASSEE — For a team to be successful, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher believes it first has to understand how to respond to failure. "I put them in failure positions a bunch. I do it on purpose," he said. "See how they deal with the adversity."
Apparently the Seminoles didn't adapt all that well in the practice he had just witnessed. They put forth solid effort in situational drills but displayed lackluster execution, Fisher said.
"We ain't very smart right now," he said. "It's easy to make plays. It's how the plays apply to the situations; offensively, defensively, special teams-wise. We're not playing with any intelligence. … That's very disappointing."
Quick hits: Offensive linemen Zebrie Sanders (groin) and David Spurlock (concussion) returned to contact drills. … It appears RB Chris Thompson's back injury is more serious than believed, Fisher said.
UCF: No poll concerns
ORLANDO — UCF senior TE Adam Nissley said the Knights aren't worried about preseason polls.
They ended last season ranked No. 20 in the final USA Today coaches poll, No. 21 in the final Associated Press poll and No. 25 in the final BCS standings after going 11-3.
The Knights were not ranked in this year's preseason USA Today and Associated Press polls.
"We don't really look at that," Nissley said. "Our goal is to be ranked at the end of the season."