NCAA: 8 Miami players must sit out games

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CORAL GABLES, FLA. (AP) - Quarterback Jacory Harris and 11 other Miami players who accepted extra benefits from former booster Nevin Shapiro will be allowed by the NCAA to play again, the first sanctions in a scandal that continues to overshadow the Hurricanes.

Of those, eight will miss at least one game, and all 12 must pay restitution.

The harshest penalties handed down Tuesday were reserved for those who took gifts from Shapiro while being recruited. Defensive lineman Olivier Vernon will sit out six games, while Ray Ray Armstrong _ considered among the nation’s top safeties _ and tight end Dyron Dye will miss four games apiece. Among the players sanctioned, only Vernon will miss more than one Atlantic Coast Conference game.

“I think it was probably fair,” Miami coach Al Golden told The Associated Press Tuesday night. “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.”

Miami opens its season at Maryland on Monday night.

The Hurricanes still might face many more sanctions as the NCAA’s investigation into Miami’s compliance practices continues. And with Tuesday’s ruling, the school has joined a growing list of schools with major football programs to be investigated by the NCAA for rule-breaking in the past 18 months. Others include Southern California, Ohio State, Auburn, Oregon, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and LSU.

“Our members have continually stressed that involvement of third parties during recruitment will not be tolerated,” NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs Kevin Lennon said.

Harris, Sean Spence, Travis Benjamin, Marcus Forston and Adewale Ojomo _ all of whom were likely starters _ must sit out one game and make restitution for accepting benefits after enrolling at the school. Four other players must repay small amounts, all under $100, but will not miss any games.

“They understand that their actions demand consequences,” Miami athletic director Shawn Eichorst said.

A 13th player, Marcus Robinson, was vindicated of wrongdoing, the university said.

The players who have to miss games may practice with the team even while they are unable to play.

“It’s nice to have it out there now,” Miami center Tyler Horn said. “There’s no suspense in the air. We know what we have. We know what we’re taking to Maryland. We have a lot of very talented players that we’re taking to Maryland, and we’re going up there to do our best. I wasn’t too worried about it. I knew things would take care of themselves.”

As Golden arrived at a fan gathering Tuesday night, he was greeted by dozens chanting his last name. Golden acknowledged them with a wave.

“I’m relieved,” Golden said. “I think that’s a fair assessment.”

The NCAA’s ruling means Stephen Morris _ who led Miami past the Terrapins last season _ will be at quarterback for the Hurricanes to start the season. Harris, Spence, Benjamin, Forston and Ojomo all will be eligible to play when Miami hosts Ohio State on Sept. 17.

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