Collazo's Resignation Just Reeks

Lazaro Collazo was a lifer at the University of Miami. Before Alex Rodriguez even dreamed of hurdling the right field wall at Mark Light Field as a kid, Lazar had been there and done that. Collazo was wearing orange and green and pitching in a College World Series while Pat Burrell was still in fourth-grade.

And after hanging up his game spikes in 1985 to become the Hurricanes pitching coach, Lazar helped mold the arms and careers of former UM hurlers such as Joe Grahe, Jay Tessmer, Kenny Henderson and Steffen Majer, all success stories under Collazo's direction that fizzled on the mound once they handed in the University of Miami baseball uniform.

Throw in more recent names like Brian Walker and Tom Farmer who arrived with poor pitching mechanics and couldn't crack an egg with a fastball but by the time they departed had minor league deals waiting. Simply put Collazo knew- and still knows for that matter- what he was doing behind those tightly placed dark black sunglasses and worn out cap. More importantly however Collazo had dedicated and married himself to the program to the point that he refused going anywhere else and in effect turned down countless job offers on a consistent basis.

So it's really hard to believe that Collazo woke up last Thursday morning and on his way to the ballpark decided that his resignation would be the best thing for the Hurricanes baseball program. Sorry, Collazo's abrupt decision –whether it was the right thing to do or not- really smells bad.

And I'm not buying it. Collazo might have walked away under his own power. But Miami athletic director Paul Dee and baseball coach Jim Morris in all probability gave him a little shove on the way out. Here's the problem: Dee and especially Morris should take a closer look at themselves and check up on the baseball team once a while as well.

As we all know by now the NCAA came down – with a slap on the wrist really- on the Hurricanes last week, placing the baseball program on two years probation and stripping them of 4.66 scholarships over the next three seasons for five major and three secondary violations resulting from a 22-month investigation. Most of the investigation centered on Collazo and a baseball academy he ran in South Miami-Dade.

After cooperating with the infractions committee during the investigation it was found that Collazo's academy- since taken over by former UM player Mike Tosar- hired nonscholarship players to work at the establishment for pay, breaking an NCAA rule that prohibits athletes from any monetary benefits. It was also determined that Collazo had inaccurately reported his income from the academy and that the Hurricanes gave extra benefits, including boat trips, to prospective recruits.

Now, I don't know Lazaro Collazo beyond a short ‘hello' or conversation on the field before games, most of which have took place in the last five years. But I know one thing: Aside from being intense and bringing the kind of passion to Mark Light Field on a day-in and day-out basis rarely seen in baseball, Collazo took extreme pride in his line of work at the University of Miami and was in it for all the good reasons. So why would a man that has made a living out of working at a school he truly cares for all of a sudden want to just abandon ship? Collazo won't publicly say it so I will: Dee and Morris. They decided that it would be best brush aside their longtime pitching coach instead of dealing the negative repercussions that were going to follow. But Collazo isn't the only culprit in this matter.

Let's start with Dee who as AD is supposedly in charge of all athletic programs and should have been keeping a closer eye on the baseball team, even more so after previous violations in 1995. Dee would have avoided the athletic department is this trouble by just keeping a tab of the things going on. Same with Morris who as head coach should at least have an idea of what transpires in his own office. It's not much to ask of Morris to display the same kind of leadership off the field as he does on it. Besides with the South Florida just dripping in high school baseball talent I would think the Hurricanes don't have to cheat to maintain the same level of excellence.

Could have Collazo made a mistake? It's possible. If you're involved in college athletics long enough you're bound to get caught for the slightest of reasons especially if you wear the UM on the side of your helmet or the bill of your cap.

Therefore Dee and Morris should be a little more aware of what's going on around them. And not use a man that helped put two national championship rings on their fingers as a scapegoat.

"We have made some mistakes, and we've got to live with that," said Morris. Sometimes if you make mistakes you have to pay the price."

Exactly. But Collazo paid dearly.

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