CORAL GABLES -- Less than 24 hours after an 11-month investigation by Yahoo! unfurled a tsunami of allegations of improper benefits made by former booster Nevin Shapiro to players and former coaches at the University of Miami, Al Golden and his team returned to the practice Wednesday morning.
And the 12 current players who were implicated by Shapiro in the Yahoo! story, were out there in uniform, too -- albeit under a much more subdued setting.
Safeties Ray-Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque; linebacker Sean Spence; quarterback Jacory Harris; receivers Travis Benjamin and Aldarius Johnson; tight end Dyron Dye; defensive tackle Marcus Forston; defensive ends Adewale Ojomo, Marcus Robinson and Olivier Vernon; and cornerback JoJo Nicolas were all involved in practice Wednesday. The question now -- as the team tries to move forward under a cloud of an NCAA investigation -- is for how long.
"Right now, the only facts I'm going by are what we received from the NCAA and the university from a compliance standpoint. Until we hear an infraction or that we did break a rule, everybody is practicing," said Golden, who also told reporters he has yet to read the Yahoo! article. "If it is determined that somebody broke rules than certainly it will first be dealt with from a university standpoint, from an eligibility standpoint."
Golden, the only person at UM to speak to the media since news of an NCAA investigation in Coral Gables broke Sunday night, said while the last 24 hours have been difficult he's still focused on getting his team ready for its Sept. 5 opener at Maryland. By then, he hopes, the NCAA will have determined or let him and his staff know who might have to sit out.
"If there are guys that are going to have to sit out games, then we'll adjust our practice accordingly," Golden said.
"Whatever the number that is being interviewed right now or being named, that makes up less than 10 percent of our team. It's really important to understand we have a lot of guys in that locker room that do things the right way and come from great families and have made good decisions and want to improve today and want to get better. We have to manage this team -- not just the guys that if they did make a mistake [will be out].
"We've been talking about being a mentally tough team, a unified team. This is going to test that. We'll see where we're at. I'm no different than you guys. I come to work. I come and talk to you guys and when I'm talking the players start coming out behind me. I don't know what their attitude is going to be and how they're going to approach practice here, but I hope there is good leadership in that locker room. I hope there's enough guys that know they've done it the right way and paid the price. I know we have those types of student-athletes here. I have a feeling they'll keep focusing on getting better and getting ready for Maryland."
Golden said his message to his team has been not to judge any of the 12 players potentially involved in the Shapiro allegations.
"I would hope they would learn from them," Golden said. "We're in an educational setting. It's no different than if a student makes a mistake on campus. We don't toss them out. We don't turn our back on them. We try to educate them. And they're all at an age right now if they were exposed to Mr. Shapiro, clearly we have to make sure we prevent that going forward.
"So, how do you do that? You do that by getting to the facts, by getting to the truth. How did this guy how did he get around our players like that? Me as the head coach, I want to know. And I know our assistant coaches want to know. We want to make sure it never happens again."
Golden, who already has one of the nation's top recruiting classes in place with 24 commitments, said assistants began making calls to recruits Tuesday night. The message: sit tight.
"I think their [high school] coaches obviously wanted to wage what the heck was going on. So our coaches got in contact with their coaches and ultimately with the recruits," Golden sad. "Until I know what the facts are and I know what's going, it's important we don't rush to judgement and start saying things I'm not privy to. With us, we're trying to move forward quickly."
Golden, who took over for Randy Shannon in December, said Tuesday he had no knowledge that any investigation by the NCAA might be coming down the shoot. Asked Wednesday if he felt the university had the responsibility to inform him of it when they hired him, Golden said: "Only if they knew.
"If they knew this was perculating then I believe they did have a responsibility to tell me. I believe they had the responsibility to tell [athletic director] Shawn [Eichorst].
"I mean, I'm happy. My wife is happy here. We have great kids on this team. We have 24 commitments from young men and their families that appreciate and share our core values moving forward. Again, from what I'm understanding, many of these allegations go back. At the minimum all the way back to the early 2000s. So it's hard for me. I only had one kid at that time. Now, I have three children. My life has changed a lot since then. I'm just trying to move forward."
Asked if he felt broad sided by what UM is facing, Golden said: "No. We'll get through this."
"Again, I feel Temple prepared me for this opportunity," Golden said. "We had so many issues when we got there and so many of them were carry overs from the previous team. And we stood in there and fixed it. We fixed it with the lowest APR in the country. We had players suspended for violations, from things that happened before I got there. We had 54 scholarship student athletes my first year and we came through it.
"Again, I think that has prepared me for this. You can sit there and feel sorry for yourself and say you got blindsided, but at the end of the day we have a chance to be a really good football team and a chance to be a really great program."