|Haith's having an incredible year at Mizzou, but the Miami questions could still haunt him. (AP)|
By Matt Norlander
The bubbling undercurrent to Missouri's amazing 25-4 season has been the fact Frank Haith was hired away from Miami before Yahoo Sports dropped five thousand proximity mines on the campus with its exhaustively and impressively thorough reporting last summer. Haith was not exactly portrayed as a coach with his program on the up and up in that report, but he's been able to douse the fire on his Miami reputation with the job's he's done in Missouri. Not that those two things are or should be separate issues.
The NCAA continues to sift into Haith's Hurricane tenure, as all parties were mum on the issue for most of this season. The NCAA continues to work on the mammoth case; we don't know when all sorts of verdicts on the football and basketball program will come down. But with Sunday's news that Reggie Johnson was suspended for illegal travel benefits provided by former Miami coaches, it meant Haith had to be asked about his time at Miami again. He's not going there, folks.
“We're doing some great things here at Missouri, and we're cooperating with the NCAA fully,” said Haith ... “And I'll just be glad when this thing's over with.”
In a news release issued Sunday before Miami's game with Florida State, Miami said:
After the game, current Miami coach Jim Larranaga told reporters: “It's my understanding Reggie and his family didn't do anything wrong. They didn't know of any impermissible benefit. It was somebody else that did that. Reggie's already paid a dear price, missing this game.”...
Asked his thoughts about Johnson's situation, Haith said, “It's just disappointing. Reggie is a wonderful young man, and you hate to see anyone have their career delayed.” He added, “It's tough. I feel bad for him and his family, and I know he'll get through it, though.”
Haith has denied the allegations from the get-go, obviously. This travel benefit for Johnson would stem from Haith's tenure, to be clear. It now gets lumped into the allegation that former Miami booster, who is currently sitting in jail, Nevin Shapiro, knew Haith was complicit in a $10,000 payment to Miami recruit DeQuan Jones, who is a member of the team now.
Miami hopes to get Johnson reinstated as swiftly as possible; the team's NCAA tournament hopes could hinge on it. Haith hopes he doesn't have to answer one more question about Miami for the rest of his life. One seems much more likely than the other.