Canes football suspensions: Easy on 2011, but maybe not so easy down the road; plus NFL merchandise sales
[Thanks to all who joined our live online chat today. Do 1-2 p.m. each Wednesday. Click HERE to tap in live, read transcripts or post questions any time. Note: Are Dolphins wrong for honoring Gators on Canes' home field? Poll still raging in post directly below this in blog. Also, join us on Twitter @gregcote].
EIGHT CANES MUST SIT OUT GAMES, REPAY BENEFITS: The NCAA ruled that eight Miami Hurricanes football players previously recently called ineligible by the school must each sit out games this season and repay illegal benefits given them by booster Nevion Shapiro.
Olivier Vernon is suspended six games and owes approximately $1,200. Ray-Ray Armstrong ($788) and Dyron Dye ($738) are suspended four games each. Suspended one game each, alphabetically: Travis Benjamin (owes $150), Marcus Forston ($400), Jacory Harris ($140), Adewale Ojomo ($240) and Sean Spence ($275).
The three suspended for multiple games were found to have received benefits from Shapiro and school personnel while being recruited as an enticement to enroll, which the NCAA called "some of the most serious recruiting violations." The other five received benefits while already UM student-athletes.
Suspensions are effective immediately, so UM figures to be depleted somewhat in its Sept. 5 opener at Maryland.
Click on NCAA Press Release for the complete, official details. Click on Impact Light ... For Now for my latest column on this evolving story. I write that the football team made out much better than it might have in terms of immediate impact on the 2011 season, but that the findings regarding Vernon, Armstrong and Dye are serious enough to all but guarantee future.
UM catches a break losing top players such as Harris and Spence for only one game. The larger NCAA investigation continues, so eventual sanctions against the UM football program are still unknown. But Tuesday's finding that eight current players did receive improper benefits to varying degrees mandating game suspensions leaves little doubt that future sanctions are coming.
STEELERS, PACK TOP NFL MERCHANDISE SALES: New Numbers out. Top 10 in jersey sales entering 2011 season: Troy Polamalu, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow, Michael Vick, Tom Brady, Clay Matthews, Tony Romo and Eli Manning, with no Dolphins in top 10. Top 10 teams in moving merchandise: Packers, Steelers, Cowboys, Bears, Patriots, Eagles, Saints, Giants, Jets, Colts.