CRAWFORD BLOG: Updated thoughts on the Clint Hurtt situation - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD BLOG: Updated thoughts on the Clint Hurtt situation

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When Florida assistant Aubrey Hill resigned last week and the only explanation from Gators coach Will Muschamp was that he resigned "for personal reasons that have nothing to do with the University of Florida," speculation again began to heat up about the NCAA's investigation at the University of Miami, where Hill coached before coming to Florida.

After Yahoo! Sports' original expose involving booster Nevin Shapiro's testimony that he was providing impermissible benefits to Miami recruits and players, it three weeks ago published a follow up story by Charles Robinson, alleging that Miami and current coach Al Golden continued to work through a close associate of Shapiro's, equipment manager Sean Allen, as a kind of unofficial recruiter.

A former Miami staff source told Yahoo! that Hill was among those working with Allen, before Hill took a job on Florida's staff. So when Hill resigned at Florida, the dots weren't hard to connect, and in fact several including Pete Thamel (moving to Sports Illustrated from The New York Times) said sources confirmed that Allen's resignation was directly related to stuff happening at Miami.

The heat turned up on Louisville recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt when Bruce Feldman of CBS Tweeted "Expect L'Ville and Clint Hurtt up next" followed by, "Heard from several sources the exMiami coach most tied to Shapiro scandal wasn't Hill. It'll be Clint Hurtt (now at Lville)."

Later, in a Mailbag column, Feldman was asked by a reader to speculate on Hurtt's involvement and future at U of L, and wrote this:

"This is another fascinating subplot in the scandal. I'd be surprised if Clint Hurtt is a Louisville coach for the 2013 season. Friday morning brought the news that Florida receivers coach Aubrey Hill, a former UM assistant also mentioned in the Nevin Shapiro scandal, was stepping down for "personal reasons." I've been told by multiple sources that the Miami coach that was most tied to Shapiro was Hurtt. Eventually, when the NCAA sanctions Miami and who knows exactly when that is, there is going to be fallout felt at some other programs. Whether he "resigns" or Charlie Strong is left with no choice by the NCAA to get rid of him because of sanctions placed on Hurtt, my hunch is Louisville will have to hire a new defensive line coach.

"Even if Hurtt is now helping the NCAA in its investigation here, it creates an intriguing dynamic given that he's recruiting against his former school, a program he can finger, yet he could continue on with his career, especially since he and his new program are benefiting from what he was reportedly heavily involved with at the previous place? That doesn't seem plausible.

"As for Louisville being penalized for hiring Hurtt, I don't see how that could happen, but I'm sure the NCAA is going to examine very closely his recruiting tactics from his days at Miami to everything he has done at U of L. "

All of that is a reasonable response from Feldman, though I do question the words, "he and his new program are benefiting from what he was reportedly heavily involved with at (Miami)."

Shapiro wasn't providing benefits to kids to get them to come to Louisville. Hurtt, in fact, has landed recruits at Louisville who were involved in the alleged continued violations that Yahoo! reported -- even as Allen was working on behalf of Miami -- which suggests that Hurtt is now competing with the Miami University stuff, instead of benefiting from it. Anyway, that statement implies some Louisville wrongdoing which, to date, hasn't been alleged. And I also am not so sure as Feldman that Hurtt will wind up leaving, depending on what the NCAA does.

Regardless, all will be found out. With the number of phone records surfacing in this, we'll know who talked to whom, and when.

As for Hurtt, nothing really has changed. Feldman's sources telling him that Hurtt was closer to Shapiro than anyone likely are Miami sources who are going to, frankly, pile as much on Hurtt's doorstep as they can in the time-honored NCAA tradition. And that has to be a concern of Hurtt's. But that also doesn't mean those sources are wrong. Hurtt was the recruiting coordinator at Miami. You'd only expect him to be closer to Shapiro than anyone else. And if you read the original Yahoo! report, it's hard to come away thinking anything else.

When the NCAA handed down suspensions for various Miami players before last season, I wrote for the newspaper that it was a bad sign for Hurtt. If it found some Shapiro allegations credible, then it's reasonable to assume that others could be. But those suspensions uncovered other violations not mentioned by Shapiro, some of them involving Hurtt. I blogged at the time, in detail, that those additional findings didn't bode well. (That blog entry was at this link.  Some of you savvy Internet cache types might be able to locate it. I am not. The newspaper has deleted it and offers no archive, paid or otherwise, of those posts.) The column I wrote, which was far less detailed, can be found here (archive, pay required).

Anyway, the situation now is as it has always been. Hurtt, reportedly, has spoken with the NCAA. We all assume he is not only a witness in the investigation, but a subject of it. The original Yahoo! report was scathing. Hurtt was alleged to have taken recruits to a restaurant and paid using a Nevin Shapiro credit card. There was the matter of checks written to Hurtt by Shapiro, copies of which were published by Yahoo!

Hurtt has to answer for all of that -- and presumably already has.

Miami officials told The Miami Herald earlier this year that the NCAA might not be ready with a ruling until after the upcoming season.

From the start, I have said that it's tough to envision the recruiting coordinator in the middle of one of the biggest recruiting scandals in NCAA history coming away without sanction -- maybe significant sanction.

Here's what I expect from U of L. (Note -- U of L technically can't talk with Hurtt about this, as it is an investigation that involves Miami and not U of L.) These are my own assumptions. They are not based on anything out of sources at U of L, because they simply don't discuss it.

1. As long as Hurtt continues to have a clean record from an NCAA standpoint regarding his U of L dealings, he'll stay at the school while the investigation is ongoing.

2. If there are sanctions to be dealt with -- time off the road, or a suspension of whatever length -- as long as there is no NCAA "show cause" ruling, I believe Hurtt will remain with Strong and U of L's staff.

3. If there is a show-cause, or information comes to light that is beyond what is already known, U of L's hand would be forced.

Regardless, if U of L is under no threat of NCAA penalty, why would it move to cut ties with a recruiter who has been successful here without breaking NCAA rules?

I'm sure that Hurtt badly wants to tell his side of things, but cannot do so to anyone but the NCAA.

So in the meantime, while I don't think any of this speculation by Feldman or others is off base, I also don't think it represents anything new.

It's just that this thing is taking a long time to complete, and the dust is going to get stirred on it from time to time when something happens.

But just because there are long stretches without news, doesn't mean that this story has gone away, or the shadow over Hurtt's part of it has lifted. But I'd be surprised to see him go anywhere anytime soon without an actual NCAA finding coming down.

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