Golden: Miami depth chart on way, despite concerns

By Tim Reynolds

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Aug. 20 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Miami's head football coach Al Golden responds to a question during a news conference before football practice in Coral Gables, Fla., Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011. The latest scandalous allegations in college football _ this time at the University of Miami _ have renewed talk by the NCAA of the need for "fundamental change" in athletics.

Lynne Sladky, Associated Press

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — For Miami coach Al Golden, the waiting game continues.

The only certainty on his schedule is Sept. 5 — the date of the Hurricanes' season-opener at Maryland. A depth chart will be completed sometime in the coming days, a process that grew more difficult when several presumptive starters had their eligibility jeopardized after being implicated by former booster Nevin Shapiro for allegedly accepting extra benefits.

Golden doesn't know when Miami president Donna Shalala and athletic director Shawn Eichorst will decide if it's worth the risk of using players who may eventually be declared ineligible by the NCAA. So when Golden says he doesn't know which 60 players he's taking to Maryland, he means it.

"We're just moving forward," Golden said. "We'll deal with whatever comes down or whatever the issues are as they come. Right now, we're moving forward and we're going to select our team accordingly. You know, I know you guys obviously are here because there's a sensational story out there, but this is a critical time for our football team."

Golden, who was hired in December, wouldn't discuss if his contract has a clause that would allow him to leave if the Hurricanes face major NCAA sanctions.

"My family and I are excited about being here, OK? This is a great place and we're going to get this fixed," Golden said.

Though neither the university nor the NCAA will confirm, it's believed the 12 current players named by Shapiro — Jacory Harris, Vaughn Telemaque, Ray Ray Armstrong, Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson, Marcus Forston, Olivier Vernon, Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, Dyron Dye, JoJo Nicholas and Sean Spence — have all met with investigators in recent days about Shapiro's allegations, which were published by Yahoo Sports on Tuesday.

Shapiro claims he provided 72 players bwith cash, cars, prostitutes and other gifts from 2002 to 2010. Those allegations could bring major sanctions from the NCAA, which has spent the past five months investigating the claims.

University officials have confirmed the NCAA had investigators on campus for several days, starting on Monday.

Shapiro first made some allegations a year ago, though at least one of the names he listed then was not among the 72 he cited in a series of interviews with Yahoo Sports.

Miami has made four players available for interviews since the scandal broke publicly. None of the current 12 players listed in the article have been available for comment. On Saturday, linebacker Jimmy Gaines — who plays the same position as Spence, someone he cites as a mentor — said his teammate has seemed unaffected by the situation.

"Sean's the same guy," Gaines said. "You wouldn't even know. He's been focusing still. He's still our leader. He's still doing the things that he's done before, before everything has happened."

Golden said Harris and Stephen Morris at quarterback are still alternating with the first-string offense, a clear sign that no determination has been made about a starter at that position. Harris, Golden said, has been "nothing short of excellent." And Spence was among the few players wearing a black jersey in practice Saturday, an honor reserved for those players who are excelling at the highest level in Golden's system.

"I'm waiting for information," Golden said. "I'm confident that our kids did a great job in terms of being open and honest. That's going to allow everybody to move forward."

Miami players and coaches will not be available to reporters again before Thursday, barring any change in schedule. Most of that gap was announced weeks ago, a break of sorts to coincide with the start of the academic year.

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