Former chair of NCAA infractions committee to assist in Michigan football investigation; player interviews have begun
The University of Michigan is bringing in the heavyweights to investigate its football program.
The university has hired respected Birmingham, Ala.-based lawfirm Lightfoot, Franklin and White to help determine whether coach Rich Rodriguez and his staff violated NCAA rules regarding excessive practice time, senior public affairs and media relations specialist Rick Fitzgerald said Wednesday.
The law firm, which worked with Auburn in its recent NCAA infractions case, employs Gene Marsh, an Alabama law professor and the former chairman of the NCAA's infractions committee.
Marsh did not return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday, but the firm's Web site boasts it has "substantial experience assisting collegiate programs in National Collegiate Athletic Association compliance matters and investigations."
Members of Michigan's compliance department already have begun interviewing players as part of the university's internal investigation, the parents of one player said Wednesday.
It's unclear how many players have been contacted by the department already, but Michigan athletic director Bill Martin told players at a meeting Sunday "most or all the team will be talking to compliance," offensive lineman David Moosman said earlier this week.
Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman issued this statement on the allegations late Wednesday:
"At the University of Michigan, we place the highest importance on the welfare of our student-athletes and the integrity of our intercollegiate athletics program. Our university is widely recognized for academic and athletic excellence, and it’s something we work to achieve every day. I am proud of our unwavering commitment to that standard. "As soon as the allegations surfaced about our athletic program, I launched an investigation. Our Board of Regents is fully informed on the matter. With the help of outside counsel, we are working in cooperation with the NCAA to discover and assess the facts of the situation.
"It is critical that a thorough and objective investigation is completed before any conclusions are drawn. We will then determine what - if any - actions need to occur to ensure full compliance with NCAA rules and our own rules of conduct."