UM changes sideline access policy after booster scandal
CORAL GABLES - Boosters will no longer be permitted on the University of Miami sideline during home football games, a change that comes after a former donor who had field access at times sparked an NCAA investigation by claiming he provided 72 players and recruits extra benefits over an eight-year span. The moves go into effect starting with Saturday's home opener against No. 17 Ohio State. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the updated policy Monday. Some of the changes are sweeping, including a policy that anyone without a game-day operations purpose - even administrators, trustees and deans - will no longer be able to receive field-access passes. Some university employees will be permitted to escort guests such as donors and potential donors onto the field during pregame warmups, but they must stay in a designated area on the visiting sideline and leave shortly before kickoff. The former booster, convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro, was one of many donors who had sideline access in recent years. Television cameras even captured Shapiro, in a Miami jersey, standing on the field near the team's tunnel as players emerged onto the field for a game at the now-demolished Orange Bowl. Shapiro ran into an end zone as well that night, having to be quickly ushered back to the sideline by a security guard.A scene like that shouldn't happen under Miami's tighter policy. Recruits and their guests, usually parents, will still be allowed on the field before games, though they will also need to be accompanied by an authorized university employee and must leave the field 22 minutes before kickoff. In certain situations, former Miami football players will be credentialed to have access on the Hurricanes' side of the field, but would not be allowed in the team's bench area. The university said that President Donna Shalala and athletic director Shawn Eichorst would both have to approve any exceptions to the policy.A number of NFL teams, including the Miami Dolphins - who play in the same stadium where the Hurricanes are a tenant - allow fans and some invited guest field-level views of games. Hundreds were on the Dolphins' side of the field for their opener against New England on Monday night, but were behind a temporary wall and positioned well away from Miami players and staff.