- Associated Press - Friday, August 26, 2011

CORAL GABLES, FLA. (AP) - The fate of eight Miami players is now in the hands of the NCAA.

Miami coach Al Golden said Friday that the university has asked the NCAA to decide the eligibility of a number of football players _ eight, a person with knowledge of the process told The Associated Press _ who are believed to have committed violations in dealings with former booster Nevin Shapiro.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Soon, those players deemed ineligible by the university will know when, or if, they will play for Miami this season.

“We’ve done our part,” Golden said. “We’re waiting.”

The NCAA’s decision is expected early next week, and it will shape the season for the Hurricanes. Some of Miami’s top players are implicated in the scandal, including quarterback Jacory Harris, linebacker Sean Spence and receiver Travis Benjamin. Miami declared eight players ineligible, the person with knowledge of the investigation said, in what’s described as a procedural move.

When a player is found to have committed a violation, that player must be declared ineligible by the university _ a necessary step before the NCAA can decide if the athlete should be reinstated.

“We’re all just focused on football,” said offensive lineman Joel Figueroa, who is not under investigation. “Just like any other season.”

Except it’s not just like any other season. At least, it hasn’t been since the Shapiro scandal exploded. And this part of the process will be brutal for Miami because the Sept. 5 primetime opener at Maryland is drawing ever closer.

“They’re eligible to practice,” Golden said Friday. “We have filed paperwork to the NCAA as of late last night, which is part of the normal process. … The only entity that can reinstate them is the NCAA.”

Sanctions could include sitting out games, having to repay any money accepted, or both. Miami has asked for an expedited ruling, a request the NCAA typically complies with.

“They’re still here,” offensive lineman Brandon Washington said Friday, speaking about the implicated group. “They’re team guys.”

The NCAA will announce any reinstatement decision, and there is precedent suggesting the governing body may move swiftly. When Auburn ruled eventual Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton _ who was dogged by a pay-for-play scandal _ ineligible during the week leading up to last year’s SEC championship game, the NCAA reinstated him without conditions a day later.

On Saturday, Miami will hold an annual event open to fans, and most players are expected to attend, including those implicated in the scandal. It’s the first time many will be available publicly since Shapiro’s allegations broke.

Golden expects to have his depth chart for the Maryland game completed for release by Tuesday, though the names listed still would be subject to change. The team is working through a number of scenarios, because no one can say with any certainty which mix of players will be available to join the Hurricanes for the trip to play the Terrapins.

“We’ll fight through this,” Golden said. “Hurricanes always have.”

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