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Published: 12/19/2007

Rodriguez resignation is moved up

ASSOCIATED PRESS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Rich Rodriguez's resignation as West Virginia University's football coach has been moved up from Jan. 3 to midnight last night, a WVU football spokesman said.

Mike Montoro confirmed the change last night but said he did not know the reason.

Rodriguez's agent, Mike Brown, did not immediately return a telephone message.

As of yesterday, WVU had not named an interim coach. Montoro said Mountaineers associate head coach Bill Stewart is in charge of football practices as the team prepares for the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2. No. 11 West Virginia (10-2) will face No. 3 Oklahoma (11-2).

Rodriguez took the job as Michigan coach on Sunday after seven seasons in Morgantown, where he led West Virginia to four Big East championships and a 60-26 record. He had said that he wasn't going to coach West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl out of concern that it would create too much of a distraction.

Rodriguez's $4 million buyout clause in his West Virginia contract still must be worked out. When Michigan lured basketball coach John Beilein away from West Virginia last April, his contract had a $2.5 million buyout clause. Under an agreement with West Virginia, Beilein agreed to pay $1.5 million to the WVU Foundation.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - An academic cheating scandal could leave Florida State without as many as 25 players when the Seminoles go against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31.

"We have some players not traveling for one reason and some for another, including those who are ineligible for the bowl because of academic issues," coach Bobby Bowden said in a statement released by the university yesterday.

Bowden put the number of players involved in the 25-player range. Many of the players could also be ruled ineligible for some games next season for their connection to the cheating scandal earlier this year.

Federal privacy laws prohibit the school from releasing names.

"We want to make sure that we have complete information, and that we have dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's," said Lee Hinkle, vice president of university relations. "It is premature to say anything at this point."

Bowden had previously not answered questions following the team's practices on the scandal that resulted in one full-time academic adviser, Brenda Monk, and a student tutor losing their jobs this summer.

The university reported its findings in a letter to the NCAA in September after a six-month investigation by the school revealed at least 23 athletes in various sports were implicated for cheating on tests.

At least two Seminole football players already have been penalized for their involvement. Defensive end Kevin McNeil missed the season and wide receiver Joslin Shaw missed the first four games.

"Kentucky would be a tough opponent when we are at full strength, so clearly this will make things more difficult," Bowden said. "Our staff is in the process of determining what adjustments we must make for the game."

Bowden said he would not use any players redshirted this season in the bowl game.

Although athletes from other sports are involved in the academic wrongdoing, the football suspensions are the latest in a series of disappointments for Bowden, who signed a one-year extension last week to coach his 33rd season next fall.



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