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Posted on Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 6:41 p.m.

Former chair of NCAA infractions committee to assist in Michigan football investigation; player interviews have begun

By Dave Birkett

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."



Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 9:41 p.m.

Go Blue!!! Nothing will come of this, take my word, he's a good man and a great coach. There's more people behind you Rich than you can imagine, just forget the moron's on these blog's. Besides there's only one and he keeps forgetting his name so he has to make up a new one just to be able to say something


Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 3:24 p.m.

Looks like the administration is distancing themselves from Rodriguez. Is this so they aren't the "bad guy" if the allegations are found to be accurate and RR gets walking papers?


Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 11:20 a.m.

RR is building a championship team, give him a chance, look how long it took Bo, L carr was a great couch also but could never win the BIG Game's. GO BLUE!


Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 10:54 a.m.

Behind the coach 100000000%. Lets play some Michigan football


Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 7:27 a.m.

When this witch hunt is completed and nothing is found, I hope that the University sends a bill to the Free Press for the cost of this "investigation." Go Blue!


Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 7:17 a.m.

Typical of those who care nothing about the truth, easier to turn your head and look the other way. Bo would not do that. Looking at these postings, I feel like I'm surrounded by republican right-wing whack jobs.


Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 6:33 a.m.

rr is redefining what a Michigan man is. Problem is, it is an ugly definition, cheater, swindler, liar etc., etc. These daily dramas reflect quite well on this storied program.(to be continued...)


Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 1:04 a.m.

richrod aint going anywere! he is the next bo schembecler! GO BLUE!


Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 12:33 a.m.

There are to many distractions for him at this time and this will definetly impact his ability to recruit. With all that has came out, most parents would be reluctant to have him as their coach. His decision making process is flawed. A U of M coach should avoid controversy and that including associating and engaging in a business deal with shady people IE: a banned booster. I truly feel for him, he and his family have no friends or lifelines in AA, they can't go back to WV and who knows where he will end up if the U of M buys out his contract.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 11:32 p.m.

I don't see them firing if he wins. That's all he has to keep his mind on- tune out the piling on from the doubters. and those afraid of a change.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 11:24 p.m.

This is the smartest football move the U of M has made in 18 months. Bring in someone from the outside with creditability to look at the situation. Regardless of the outcome, RR will probably be gone at the end of this year. To many of the old guard just don't want anything to do with him. On top of that all the negative stuff that has been in the papers, his contract dispute with WV where he had to pay the 4 mil with help from Mich. The defaulting on the loan and associating with a banned booster. Mary Sue Coleman is probably thinking what the heck did we get here. Mich hasn't had that kind of press since the fab five. Look for the administration to sit back quietly and make a move at the end of the season.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 11:05 p.m.

Good, let's get this Bravo Sierra over so we can concentrate on something important, like football season. RR is going to put a very good team on the field and we have just 3 days to kickoff. Go Blue!!


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 10:40 p.m.

Is it football season yet?


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 9:03 p.m.

He said, she said bla bla bla! GO BLUE!


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 6:56 p.m.

We're behind Coach Rod 100%... GO BLUE!!!!