It is a great time of year.

The beginning of a new football season is near. With it comes the beginning of our very own football program here at UTSA. But outside of San Antonio, the news in college football is not good.

Scandal is rampant around the country, from Southern Cal to Ohio State to North Carolina, but one school has trumped all that: The University of Miami or ‘the U’ as it is known.

If you haven’t heard, the University of Miami is under NCAA investigation for the actions of Nevin Shapiro, a booster who used a Ponzi scheme to con $930 million out of people.

Shapiro used his ill-gotten gains to provide illegal benefits to players in the Miami athletic department, most notably in the football program.

It shouldn’t matter to UTSA what is going on at Miami but four of the years that the rogue booster was undermining the program were the final four years of Larry Coker’s tenure at Miami. In that way UTSA and the U are linked.

Coker has denied knowing anything, saying he was saddened by the news during UTSA’s recent football media day, and his name has not come up at all in the NCAA investigation that has been going on for months. But this story has an impact closer to home, especially if the NCAA decides to drop the death penalty on Miami.

What is the death penalty you ask?

The death penalty is the harshest penalty the NCAA can hand out. It closes down a program for a determined amount of time. In the most famous case of the death penalty, the SMU Mustangs, located up the road in Dallas, were banned from playing football for two seasons in 1987 and 1988. This move had far reaching consequences.

The Mustangs didn’t return to respectability until 2007 when they hired June Jones out of Hawaii, didn’t return to a bowl until 2009 and the conference they were a part of at the time, the Southwest Conference, collapsed in 1996 with Texas, A&M, Tech and Baylor going to the Big XII and Houston, Rice, TCU and SMU being cast off into other conferences, notably the Conference USA and WAC.

I am not saying this will happen again but it has been talked about in regard to the University of Miami, another school in a big city like SMU. Whether Miami is told to stop playing football or not will not matter to us in San Antonio, but it does warn of what can happen when a city and university get caught up in success and allow the shady side to enter the picture.

What we must do at UTSA is remain ever vigilant as our football program begins its eventually illustrious history. We the students, past, present and future, must always keep tabs on our athletic department, not just in football but in all sports. The death penalty could hit any school, any sport.  

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