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Scandal censure for 12 at Miami

CORAL GABLES — Quarterback Jacory Harris and 11 other Miami football players who accepted extra benefits from former booster Nevin Shapiro will be allowed by the NCAA to play again after serving suspensions and making restitution, the first sanctions in a scandal that continues to overshadow the Hurricanes.

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In all, 12 players must pay restitution of the value of the benefits they received, ranging from more than $140 to more than $1,200, and eight of those players will miss at least one game.

The harshest penalties were levied Tuesday by the NCAA and were for those who took gifts from Shapiro while being recruited. Defensive lineman Olivier Vernon will sit out six games and make restitution of more than $1,200. Ray Ray Armstrong, considered among the nation's top safeties, and tight end Dyron Dye will miss four games apiece. Armstrong must make restitution of approximately $788 and Dye approximately $738. Harris and four others must sit out one game each and make restitution.

"I think it was probably fair," coach Al Golden said. "Clearly, whatever transpired, it wasn't as over the top as everybody was initially reporting and all of those things. The NCAA and the university felt there was mistakes made … and I've accepted that. And now we're moving forward."

Miami opens its season Monday night at Maryland.

The Hurricanes still might face many more sanctions. The NCAA's investigation into UM's compliance practices continues, spurred by Shapiro saying he gave thousands of impermissible benefits to football and basketball players from 2002-10. Those benefits, he told Yahoo Sports, included cash, jewelry and prostitutes; hosting players and recruits at his million-dollar homes and yacht, and taking them to restaurants, dance clubs and strip clubs.

Harris, Sean Spence, Travis Benjamin, Marcus Forston and Adewale Ojomo — all likely starters — must sit out one game under NCAA penalties. Their restitutions range from Harris' $140-plus to Forston's $400-plus.

Four other players were penalized by the school: Brandon McGee, JoJo Nicholas, Vaughn Telemaque and Micanor Regis. They must repay amounts under $100 but will not miss any games. Regis was not one of the players Shapiro said accepted benefits.

The school is doing a joint investigation with the NCAA.

"The student-athletes involved have acknowledged receiving improper benefits and will now be responsible for restitution," athletic director Shawn Eichorst said.

A 13th player, Marcus Robinson, was cleared of wrongdoing, the university said.

The suspended players may practice.

"It's nice to have it out there now," center Tyler Horn said. "There's no suspense in the air. … We know what we're taking to Maryland."

As Golden arrived at a fan gathering Tuesday night, he was greeted by dozens chanting his last name. "I'm relieved," he said. "I think that's a fair assessment."

The NCAA's ruling means Stephen Morris — who led Miami past the Terrapins last season — will be at quarterback to start the season. Harris, Spence, Benjamin, Forston and Ojomo will be eligible to play when Miami hosts Ohio State on Sept. 17.

Dye and Armstrong can return Oct. 8 against Virginia Tech. Vernon is eligible for the Oct. 22 game against Georgia Tech.

The evaluating of eligibility might not be over. UM president Donna Shalala said last week compliance personnel were investigating 15 athletes. Thirteen were addressed by Tuesday's decisions. A 14th is believed to be basketball player DeQuan Jones, whom Shapiro implicated. The identity of the 15th is unknown.

Scandal censure for 12 at Miami 08/30/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 6:18pm]
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