– The Associated Press

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Seeming upbeat as usual, Miami quarterback Jacory Harris did not hesitate when asked about the fast-approaching start of the Hurricanes’ season.

“I expect to play,” Harris said. “Yes, sir.”

The NCAA will decide soon if that becomes reality.

Harris and many other Miami players implicated by the extra-benefits scandal that threatens to negatively affect the program for years spoke out for the first time Saturday about the mess. None provided any specifics about the claims that former booster and imprisoned Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro made to Yahoo Sports, alleging that he provided extra benefits to Miami players and recruits from 2002-10.

But many, like Harris, expressed some sense of optimism that they may be cleared in time to play Sept. 5, when Miami opens at Maryland.

n “These people, they know what to do,” defensive lineman Marcus Forston said.

n “I’m very hopeful,” wide receiver Travis Benjamin said.

n “We know we’re all we’ve got right now, this team,” safety Ray Ray Armstrong said.

They are among 12 current players known to be under investigation by the university, and presumably the NCAA, for their involvement with Shapiro. A person with knowledge of the process said eight players — Harris, Sean Spence and Benjamin among them — have been declared ineligible by the university, which then turned the matter over to the NCAA and asked that a reinstatement process be expedited.

The school has confirmed it asked the NCAA for rulings on Thursday. The school has not confirmed how many players are ineligible, nor any of the names involved. On Saturday, Miami Coach Al Golden seemed to suggest much of the university’s investigation revolves around incidents that happened sometime around 2008.

“I was sad for the guys because I think we all as individuals, we hope to grow, we hope to mature, we hope to learn from mistakes,” Golden said. “These guys are no different.

“If what has been alleged, if there ends up being some truth to it and they do have to serve some penalties, it’s three years ago. So not only are they different than they were last year, now we have to go back three years. That’s why I feel bad for them.”

Besides Harris, Forston, Spence, Benjamin and Armstrong, the other current players named by Shapiro in the Yahoo Sports article were Vaughn Telemaque, Aldarius Johnson, Olivier Vernon, Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, Dyron Dye and JoJo Nicholas.

Miami President Donna Shalala said several days ago that the school was trying to determine the eligibility status of 15 student-athletes. She did not specify names or how many were football players.

“Sometimes life’s not fair,” Miami center Tyler Horn said. “But I’m not worried about it. I’m focused on what I can control, and that’s football.”

Harris’ teammates said Saturday they’re impressed with the way he’s handled the cloud hanging over his senior season.

“Jacory’s Jacory,” Morris said. “He’s a happy guy all the time.”