UM Players Suspended, Must Pay Back Benefits

Jacory Harris, Sean Spence must sit a game

By Todd Wright
|  Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011  |  Updated 8:26 PM CDT
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The 12 current University of Miami players accused of receiving gifts from former booster Nevin Shapiro aren't talking, and most former players are keeping quiet too. Others are speaking out.

The 12 current University of Miami players accused of receiving gifts from former booster Nevin Shapiro aren't talking, and most former players are keeping quiet too. Others are speaking out.

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Eight University of Miami football players will be forced to sit out games and pay back benefits as part of the fallout of an NCAA investigation into allegations by convicted felon and former UM booster Nevin Shapiro, officials announced Monday.

Four key 'Canes players will be forced to miss one game for their role in the scandal, including projected starting quarterback senior Jacory Harris, wide receiver Travis Benjamin and defensive leaders Sean Spence and Marcus Forston.

Defensive lineman Adewale Ojomo will also miss one.

UM had ruled the players ineligible so that the NCAA would review each player's case before the season started; the ruling comes just days before Miami opens its season against Maryland on Labor Day.

"I think it was probably fair," Miami coach Al Golden told The Associated Press. "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."

Defensive end Olivier Vernon will pay the stiffest price for his alleged dealings with Shapiro. The NCAA ruled Vernon must miss six games and pay back more than $1,200 in benefits he received from Shapiro during his recruitment by the Canes.

Safety Ray Ray Armstrong and tight end Dyron Dye will miss four games and must each pay back more than $738 in improper benefits received from Shapiro while they were being recruited.

"The student-athletes involved have acknowledged receiving improper benefits and will now be responsible for restitution and, in some cases, the student-athletes will also serve game suspensions. They understand that their actions demand consequences," said UM Athletics Director Shawn Eichorst in an NCAA announcement.

Harris, who was battling Stephen Morris for the starting QB position, received more than $140 worth of meals, entertainment and night club admissions from Shapiro while already at Miami, the NCAA statement said.

Forston, a junior defensive lineman, received more than $400 in benefits including athletic equipment and meals, the NCAA said.

Brandon McGee, JoJo Nicholas, Micanor Regis and Vaughn Telemaque weren't suspended despite being named in the Shapiro allegations, but they will be required to pay back benefits of less than $100.

UM could appeal the suspensions, but that's not likely.

Defensive end Marcus Robinson was cleared of any wrongdoing and will be allowed to play without missing time, UM said in a statement.

Coach Al Golden also announced that wide receiver Aldarius Johnson has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules not related to the Shapiro investigation, the statement said.

Sanctions against the university have not been announced.

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