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Published: 2/24/2010

UM football program found in violation of workout rules

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ANN ARBOR — Incoming University of Michigan athletic director David Brandon said yesterday was a “bad day” as he attempted to explain the NCAA's findings of an investigation into coach Rich Rodriguez's football program.

Just how bad it was remains to be seen. But one thing that's sure is Mr. Rodriguez will keep his job despite his program being accused of violating five rules.

In August, the Detroit Free Press published a story citing several former and current players who said Mr. Rodriguez and his staff violated various rules, including presiding over off-season workouts and working players beyond mandated hourly thresholds. The NCAA's findings generally support the Free Press report.

Mr. Brandon said the university's next step is to compare the results of its internal investigation to the one conducted by the NCAA. Should it choose to do so, UM will have 90 days to respond to the NCAA. The school is expected to go before the NCAA infractions committee in August.

Mr. Brandon said he was not surprised by anything the NCAA dug up. “I was aware of all of the issues,” he said.

The alleged violated rules are:

• From January, 2008, to September, 2009, the five members of Mr. Rodriguez's quality-control staff engaged in on and off-the-field coaching activities. Per NCAA rules, members of a quality-control staff cannot be involved in skill development among players.

• From January, 2008, through at least September, 2009, members of the quality-control staff in addition to one graduate assistant and one student assistant “regularly” monitored voluntary off-season workouts. Also, the NCAA alleges UM players were forced to participate in off-season conditioning drills as a punishment for missing classes. Because it was the off-season, such requirements are not tolerated.

• Graduate assistant Alex Herron provided the NCAA false and misleading information on his involvement in off-season workouts.

• Mr. Rodriguez failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failed to adequately monitor the duties and activities of the quality-control staff members, a graduate assistant coach and a student assistant coach, and the time limits for athletically related activities.

• From January, 2008, through at least September, 2009, the athletics department failed to adequately monitor its football program to assure compliance regarding limitations on the number, duties, and activities of countable football coaches, and time limits for countable athletically related activities.

Several allegations of UM not adhering to hourly work limits fall under the second bullet point. The NCAA believes Mr, Rodriguez's players participated in countable athletically related activities anywhere from two hours to 20 minutes beyond various weekly limits.

“There were no situations where any student-athlete's welfare was put at risk,” Mr. Brandon said.

UM may be labeled a repeat offender because of several violated rules involving the Fab Five basketball class of the early 1990s. The university was placed on probation from May, 2003, to May, 2008, and the NCAA alleges Mr. Rodriguez and his staff began breaking rules five months before the probation period ended. Should the NCAA rule UM is a repeat offender, it is believed the severity of the punishment inflicted for the current violations will be increased.

Mr. Rodriguez was often vague in his responses to reporters' questions about the violations, although as the “leader” of the program he accepted responsibility for the embarrassment.

“What I have to do as the leader of the program is to make sure we get the proper interpretation and then follow rules the way they're interpreted,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

— RYAN AUTULLO



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