The immediate impact of the Yahoo! Sports allegations against the Miami Hurricanes, and specifically new Missouri Tigers head coach Frank Haith, aren't centered around this year's Tiger basketball program.
No, the 2011-12 Mizzou basketball team will be fine. With seven seniors returning, the immediate impact won't be on the floor. Where Mizzou will suffer is recruiting, from today until Haith leaves the program there will be question marks surrounding the coach.
Haith was a questionable hire to begin with. Mizzou seemingly had a long list of potential suitors, and shocked the college basketball world with the hire of a guy who had won 38.4% of conference games at Miami and who only had one NCAA tournament trip in seven seasons in Coral Gables.
Now with allegations that Haith accompanied former ‘Canes booster Nevin Shapiro to a strip club... that Haith acknowledged that Shapiro paid a high school basketball recruit $10,00 to attend Miami... that Haith appears in two photos with Shapiro on the Yahoo! Sports report... that a Haith story concludes the report...
All of this spells trouble for Mizzou's recruiting reach. What parent would let a coach into their house to try and woo their son, while picturing him getting a lap dance from a stripper? What parent would agree to let a coach who has ties to a federal felon mentor their child for four years?
Mizzou needs to act quickly on this. A simple statement from the administration won't help the cause, and if they think that this story will get swept under the table, then they're out of their mind. This Miami story will be around for years (the Reggie Bush scandal happened six years ago and people are still talking about it), and though it centers on Hurricane football, Haith's name, and by proxy, Mizzou's name, will be dragged along with it.
If Mizzou plans on keeping Haith around, they need to come out and be as strong of a supporter as anyone. They need to adamantly deny all accusations and threaten legal repercussions against Shapiro, Yahoo! Sports and anyone else they see fit. They need to show that they're standing by their man, and in doing so show parents that they, too, can stand behind Haith and feel comfortable shipping their kids to Columbia.
Haith also needs to come out and publicly address the situation. Claim that he knew Shapiro but he didn't know of any wrong doing. Smear Shapiro's name -- in a non-bitter, professional and legal way -- like Shapiro is smearing his. The only way to rebuke these claims is to firmly stand your ground.
It might not work. The evidence, whether true or not, might be too much for Haith and the Mizzou program to overcome. But luckily for the Tigers, they are only tied to the scandal as long as Haith is on the sidelines... they have the easy out.
If Mizzou is going to take action against Haith, it needs to be done now. Before they lose recruiting ground and before the season begins. Like I stated above, with a talented, senior-laden team, the concern isn't the present. The concern is the future. Mizzou can dictate their future by getting rid of Haith, promoting an assistant to interim head coach and spend the season looking for a new coach.