The NCAA investigation of Miami did not start with Nevin Shapiro taking some recruits for a ride on his yacht or handing out some cash.
Instead, no one was checking the Hurricanes' phone bills.
Compliance issues — a lack of monitoring — were at the root of the mess Miami was in over the past few years. And even though NCAA Case No. M362 is now essentially over, with a relatively small number of scholarship losses for football and men's basketball as the most significant penalties left to deal with, the trick for the Hurricanes is making sure something like this never happens again.
"We have a lot of educating to do," Miami athletic director Blake James said. "That's something that never stops."
Some of the issues that needed to be fixed date back to at least 2009, when Miami self-reported numerous violations regarding improper phone calls and text messages, it all having nothing to do with Shapiro. The NCAA started looking looked at the Hurricanes then and amped-up the probe a few months later when the former booster and mastermind of a $930 million Ponzi scheme began sharing his story with investigators.
The NCAA's assessment Tuesday was worded like this: "Staff members had a poor understanding of NCAA rules or felt comfortable breaking them."
Miami insists those days are gone.
"We're moving full speed ahead as a program," James said.
Virtually the entire Miami athletic administration has been hired since the Shapiro scandal broke widely in 2011 or has assumed a new role during that time. Compliance officials are far more visible now, utilizing social media and seminars to educate anyone around the program — even boosters — about what's right and what's wrong under NCAA rules.
Miami is still reaching out and asking its donors for support — but warning them that support doesn't mean anything close to unfettered access.
"Everybody in our community has been, to a person, totally supportive," Miami President Donna Shalala said. "Whether it's the students or the faculty or the alumni, they've been supportive both of the sanctions we imposed on ourselves and the way we conducted ourselves. They're also committed to how much we're going to have to invest in making sure that we do everything we can to stay within NCAA rules."
Miami is certainly not the only school to be tightening the reins these days. Coaches everywhere know that finding the right balance when it comes to compliance safeguards isn't always easy.
"You know, it's really a double edged sword because you want your guys to meet some people that are going to be beneficial to them down the road," West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins said. "Potential employers, people who have contacts, people who can make calls, people who can be references. At the same time, you're supposed to stay away from those very people. It's a fine line I think we all walk."
A two-page list shows how seriously Miami is taking all this.
Pages 100 and 101 of the NCAA's infractions report on Miami that was released Tuesday is nothing but a list of the corrective measures the school has taken to clean up compliance and safeguard against a future Shapiro-like mess. Boosters now have limited access to Miami athletes and facilities, as well as the Hurricanes' football sideline on game days. Even the compliance office was moved so there could be better access to athletes.
Nothing is foolproof, but this scandal certainly showed the Hurricanes where they were most vulnerable.
"Education," James said. "I think that's the biggest component of it. A lot of the structure we've put into place. Now it's educating everyone. It's continuing to educate our coaches. It's continuing to educate our student-athletes. It's doing more reach-out with our fans and our alums on the process. The one big piece is education."