Frank Haith avoided major trouble

It could have been so much worse.

In summer of 2011, when Yahoo! Sports brought ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro's unseemly relationship with Miami athletics to the fore, Frank Haith was out in the open. Athletic director Mike Alden had reached on a coach with one tournament appearance and a 47-69 career ACC record, and now, at best, that same coach was subject to an optics nightmare. At worst, Shapiro alleged, Haith arranged for a $10,000 payment to a prospect.

Either way, it wasn't good. Months earlier, Alden had proudly sold skeptical Tigers diehards on Haith's "integrity" and "character." The new coach's contract included language that allowed the Tigers to cut ties with cause, if it came to that. All they needed was a finished NCAA investigation.

Instead, the NCAA's findings, released Tuesday, comprise little more than a glancing blow. The Committee on Infractions suspended Haith for five games, to be served at the start of this season, and he'll have to attend an NCAA rules seminar next summer. Neither will threaten his job at Missouri.

Haith's success since his arrival factors in that calculus: In his first season, he led former coach Mike Anderson's players to a 30-5 record and a Big 12 tournament title. The Tigers made the NCAA tournament again in 2012-13, and Haith's program has quickly become a destination for talented transfers.

But Haith's security has much more to do with the NCAA's strange decision itself.

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