Golden: Miami pays recruiting price

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- So far during Al Golden's tenure, Miami's football program has voluntarily forfeited the right to appear in two bowl games, along with one trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, up to 30 practices and an undisclosed number of scholarships in response to an unbelievably long NCAA investigation.

The Hurricanes' coach sounds like he's had enough.

Speaking on Wednesday shortly after the Hurricanes completed another signing-day class that was assembled under the cloud of the NCAA inquiry into compliance practices, Golden said in an interview with The Associated Press that the ongoing investigation clearly has hurt Miami's recruiting.

He said other schools use the threat of sanctions against Miami to steer players away, and the unknowns surrounding the probe create questions that have no answers.

"How can anybody say it hasn't impacted every one of us in the organization or our families, the coaches' families, the strength coaches or the trainers or the players? I don't think you can measure," Golden said. "This, the life span of a college coach or a college student-athlete is so small, to have bowls taken away from you or practice opportunities reduced or championship games basically deleted, that is a huge penalty. I don't know how you measure that."

Miami signed 16 players in this year's class, holding back a number of scholarships. Like everything else the Hurricanes have given up so far, Golden kept those scholarships -- he did not divulge the number he didn't release, but it's believed to be around six -- in anticipation of sanctions that still may be months away.

Miami still has not even been given its notice of allegations. Until then, the sanction process cannot even begin.

"Not only are we silent in our defense against the NCAA, we are silent against our opponents who are recruiting against us," Golden said. "That's a double-whammy. That's tough to overcome."

The Miami scandal became publicly known in August 2011, when former booster and convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro's claims that he plied athletes, coaches and recruits with impermissible benefits for eight years were published by Yahoo Sports. In actuality, the probe started months earlier, and some of Shapiro's claims were known long before Golden was hired in December 2010.

Golden was not told of Shapiro or the possibility for problems related to his involvement with the athletic department during his interview process with the Hurricanes.

"We were meant to be here," Golden's wife, Kelly Golden, told the AP on Wednesday. "Regardless of how it happened, what was said or not said, we need to be here right now. He needs to be here. Not sure who else could weather this storm the way he has. It was for a reason."

Countless other stories related to the scandal have followed, including ones last summer where Golden was alleged to have broken recruiting rules, information that was alleged in a deposition conducted by Shapiro's attorney in December 2011.

That deposition looked damning for Miami, and now seems to be more damning for the NCAA. The attorney, Maria Elena Perez, was in a contractual relationship with the NCAA -- which, two weeks ago, ordered an external review of that relationship. Perez used subpoena power to conduct depositions which were done under the guise of Shapiro's bankruptcy case but that the NCAA wound up utilizing in building a case against Miami.

The NCAA does not have subpoena power, and therefore it would appear should not have had access to the questions she asked. On Wednesday, the NCAA said its external review was completed and a report is expected by Feb. 15.

Miami will not receive its notice of allegations until that report is completed.

"Putting together last year's class was hard, but it was new," Golden said. "And the kids were only exposed from August to January. This year's group was exposed to the toxicity for two years, which was like having a shadow follow you, wherever you went. You were always combating that and talking about that and trying to keep the opposition on the facts, which got lost a lot."

Golden also said the NCAA's public announcement of the external review of its own investigative practices hurt the Hurricanes -- even though, in actuality, the NCAA issues only hurt their own case and basically helped Miami's cause.

"The parents who have jobs or are working every day and the young man who's going to school every day and lifting after or playing basketball and then going home and doing homework, all they know after seeing that story is, 'That's a mess down there,' " Golden said. "They didn't know it was a positive stroke for the University of Miami. All they know is that that fire got stoked again. And to have that two weeks out was an incredible impediment to our progress and to our program."

"Those articles, regardless of whether it's pointing to the positives for the University of Miami, were used as negatives by our attackers," Golden continued.

One positive of the NCAA situation at Miami is this: It seems to have steeled the Hurricanes' fan base.

A slogan -- "I Stand With The U" -- started catching on around the program since the NCAA probe was revealed publicly, and Golden is using it as part of his mantra with recruits and players right now.

"There's going to be a lot of people who didn't stand with us who are going to be remembered for not standing with us," Golden said. "'I Stand With The U' means this is tough right now. This is about as tough as it gets in our business. We've got a bunch of coaches and players that are digging in and rather than running are going to fight their way out of it. Now do you stand with us or not? And that is the truth. That is the truth. From my heart, that is the truth."

Soon, he hopes, the unknown will be known.

A group of prospects for the 2014 class will be on campus this weekend. The first question they will all likely ask will be about the NCAA inquiry.

Golden won't have an answer for them. At least, not yet.

"I'm confident that the 2014 group will not be impacted in any way by the current NCAA investigation," Golden said. "But until the point that we make an unknown quantity known, we will continue to be assailed by the opposition in the most talented recruiting base in the country."