NCAA: 8 Miami players must sit out games

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CORAL GABLES, FLA. (AP) - For Miami coach Al Golden, there is relief.

And for the Hurricanes implicated in an extra-benefits scandal, there will be a return to the field this season.

The NCAA said Tuesday that quarterback Jacory Harris and 11 other Hurricanes who accepted benefits from former booster Nevin Shapiro may play with some conditions _ the first sanctions in a scandal that overshadows the program.

Three players who accepted benefits as recruits were hit hardest, a six-game ban for Olivier Vernon and four-game penalties for Ray Ray Armstrong and Dyron Dye.

“I think it was probably fair,” Golden told The Associated Press in response to the NCAA ruling. “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.”

In all, 12 players must pay restitution and eight will miss at least one game.

Miami opens its season at Maryland on Monday night.

The Hurricanes still might face many more penalties as the NCAA’s investigation into Miami’s compliance practices continues.

Miami is one of a growing list of schools with major football programs to be investigated by the NCAA for rule-breaking in the past 18 months, a club that includes 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.

The scandal broke days after NCAA President Mark Emmert led a group of university presidents _ including Miami’s Donna Shalala _ in drafting an outline for change in college sports. When the allegations against Miami became public, Emmert said if they were proven, they could further show that the system needs repair.

Around the ACC, a similar sentiment is being shared.

“The Miami thing, that’s a great example,” said Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, whose team had to vacate its 2009 ACC title because it used an ineligible player. “If there’s kids there that did it … they need to get punished. But if it goes back to 2002 and all those guys are gone, nothing is going to happen to them. What’s going to happen is to the 80 percent of the kids who are there who didn’t know anything about it or the coach who didn’t know anything about it.”

Harris, Sean Spence, Travis Benjamin, Marcus Forston and Adewale Ojomo _ all likely Miami starters _ must sit out one game after it was determined they accepted 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.

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