The never-ending drama between the NCAA and the Miami Hurricanes football program took a turn on Monday that could impact the Louisville Cardinals. ESPN.com college football beat writer Brett McMurphy reports the NCAA allegations against Clint Hurtt include charges he lied to investigators. Hurtt was an assistant under Randy Shannon at Miami from 2006-2009, before joining Charlie Strong’s staff at Louisville. Hurtt has been the Cardinals’ defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator since 2010.
From the report is the most serious of the charges, one that could have profound implications on Hurtt’s long-term employment status not only at Louisville, but in college football:
During his November 3, 2011, interview with the enforcement staff, institution and his current employer, Hurtt provided false and misleading information when he denied providing meals, transportation and some of the lodging to four then football prospective student-athletes, as detailed in Allegation No. 5-(d). Additionally, Hurtt denied arranging for Shapiro to pay for the meals of four then football prospective student-athletes and three then football student-athletes, as well as attending the meal, as detailed in Allegation No. 5-(d). Hurtt’s statements were in direct contradiction to information provided by the then football prospective student-athletes and some of the then football student-athletes involved. [NCAA Bylaw 10.1-(d)]
Charles Robinson’s initial report of Nevin Shapiro’s allegations in August 2011 cited Hurtt specifically. Initially reports Hurtt faced substantial allegations from the NCAA surfaced last month, but Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich has kept Hurtt on staff and been adamant about the coach having an opportunity to address the charges.
Among the possible penalties Hurtt could face should the NCAA prove he knowingly misled investigators is a show-cause, which would effectively prevent him from coaching in the NCAA for a set period of time. But show-cause penalties have historically rendered coaches untouchable. Morgan State basketball coach Todd Bozeman is the only coach to return to the college ranks after receiving one.
Notable recipients in football over the last few years include John Blake, who was something of a sacrificial lamb in the litany of charges against North Carolina football. Jim Tressel’s case has some similarities to Hurtt’s in that both were accused of purposefully misleading investigators.
Former USC running backs coach Todd McNair has aggressively battled his show-cause, in the process potentially exposing malfeasance on the governing body’s part. A CBS report published in November paints a picture of the NCAA methodically railroading the erstwhile Trojan assistant.
Improprieties on the NCAA’s part have already came to light amid this Miami investigation. The university’s athletic director, Donna Shalala, has promised to face the charges head on, noting the case is formed almost exclusively on the accounts of jailed Ponzi scheme conspirator Shapiro.
“Many of the allegations included in the Notice of Allegations remain unsubstantiated…The NCAA enforcement staff could not find evidence of prostitution, expensive cars for players, expensive dinners paid for by (Shapiro), player bounty payments, rampant alcohol and drug use.”
“Many of the charges brought forth are based on the word of a man who made a fortune by lying. The NCAA enforcement staff acknowledged to the University that if Nevin Shapiro, a convicted con man, said something more than once, it considered the allegation ‘corroborated.'”
Not only did the NCAA use Shapiro’s claims as corroboration for his own charges, the organization also issued a letter that former players’ refusal to testify would be treated as admissions of guilt. The Fifth Amendment may be good enough for the Bill of Rights, but apparently not NCAA investigations.
To reiterate Jurich’s point, Hurtt deserves his opportunity to respond before the presumption of guilt — and not just because the investigation has been a comedy of errors. That part doesn’t hurt, though.
Hurtt’s importance to Louisville football should not be understated. The south Florida ties of Hurtt, a Miami alumnus, are evident in the Cardinals’ recent recruiting classes. The most noteworthy coup Louisville scored from the Miami pipeline is quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a front runner for the 2013 Heisman Trophy.