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Posted on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 7:30 p.m.

Updated 7:30 p.m.: Rich Rodriguez defends University of Michigan's practices against NCAA violation allegations

By Pete Bigelow


Speaking in an emotional press conference six days before he begins his second football season at Michigan, coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday that neither he nor his assistant coaches have ever broken NCAA rules. “We know the rules, and we comply with the rules,” he said.

Rodriguez paused several times to compose himself during a 14-minute opening statement that addressed reports Michigan had exceeded limits on practice time set by the NCAA. Such conduct, Rodriguez said, would go “against everything I have ever believed in coaching.” Michigan has launched an investigation into the charges, which were first published Saturday by the Detroit Free Press. U-M athletic director Bill Martin said he has established no timetable for completing that review. The Big Ten Conference and NCAA may also investigate. In Michigan’s review process, most, if not all, of members of the football team will speak with university compliance officers, Martin told the Wolverines. Martin did not comment Monday, except to briefly express his confidence in Rodriguez, who has had a turbulent 19-month tenure as coach. “I’m all in for Rich Rodriguez,” Martin said. The Free Press reported: · Coaches attended voluntary non-contact seven-on-seven scrimmages during offseason workouts, in violation of NCAA rules. · Players practiced two to three times the number of hours permitted for football-related offseason activities. · The coaching staff broke NCAA limits on daily and weekly hours allowed for football-related activity during the football season. While current and former players told the Free Press the team worked as many as nine hours on Sundays last season - the NCAA limit is four hours per day - Rodriguez said his practices never exceeded one hour. He attributed the discrepancy to players perhaps misunderstanding what the NCAA considers a countable hour - duties such as receiving treatment for injuries are not counted toward the limit.

What bothered Rodriguez more than the statements from players was the perception that he and his staff cared more about the on-field product at the expense of players’ academic commitments. “I, as a coach, have never hindered that,” he said, wiping tears from his eyes. “I have never, and nobody on my staff will ever, tell a young man to miss a class or miss a study session or tutor appointment to do anything athletically. “Never have, never will.” During his remarks, Rodriguez repeatedly expressed his support for strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis, who ran many of the workouts in question. The pair worked together for seven years at West Virginia before Barwis joined Rodriguez at Michigan in December 2007. “I have complete trust in him, and I think he’s absolutely the best strength and conditioning coach in the country,” Rodriguez said. Senior offensive tackle Mark Ortmann said he talked with Barwis about the allegations, and he believes Michigan will be cleared of any wrongdoing. “One on one, he told me he knows we’re working hard, and that he has the paperwork to support what we’ve done,” Ortmann said. Barwis could not be reached for comment Monday. Rodriguez said under Barwis, some players showed such enthusiasm to voluntarily work out on Saturdays and Sundays, that they called coaches and asked them to unlock Schembechler Hall. “So we make sure a strength coach is in there, so they don’t drop a weight on their foot,” Rodriguez said. “Then a strength coach says, ‘Coach, I’ll go in there if you want me to go in there.’” Ortmann said a close-knit group of players has developed around Barwis. Many players join the strength coach and his family for services each Sunday at Keystone Community Church in Saline. “It’s nice, because you see the coaches in an atmosphere beyond Schembechler Hall,” Ortmann said. “It really helps us for the rest of the week, because when the pressures of football really build up, (church) really just helps keep me level-headed.” Ortmann and other players said Monday those pressure will not be amplified by the current allegations - if anything it reinforces their desire to continue to work hard and improve after last season’s 3-9 record, Michigan’s first losing season since 1967. “They’re saying that we’re working too much, and personally, I don’t think we’re working hard enough,” Ortmann said. “I know how serious Coach Rod is taking these allegations. From a player perspective, I know what we do on and off the field, and I see none of that as illegal.” Will the allegations be a distraction when the Wolverines host Western Michigan at 3:30 p.m. Saturday? Rodriguez would like to unequivocally say no, but acknowledged he must address them. “It’s disheartening to fight obstacles that aren’t really there, that shouldn’t be there,” he said. “There’s been a lot of unnecessary drama.”



Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 8:34 a.m.

@Michigan707 re. Heresay. The problem with your argument is person A, the anonymous football player, has direct experience with what he's talking about. So there's no heresay.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 3:32 p.m.

this is nothing! when MICHIGAN WINS 10 games this year nobody will even care about this non-story. GO BLUE!


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 2:09 p.m.

What a bunch of whimps. If high school kids can practice "two a days" then why can't the college kids. Oh, that is right, U of M players haven't had to practice hard since Bo left. Bo would be turning over in his grave now. Well we are now the laughing stock of the NCAA and the U of M Wolverines now have the reputation of crying when things get too hard. I HOPE THEY LOOSE EVERY GAME, this year. They deserve to losse if they don't want to work hard. COACH get rid of the cry babies and get some real men on your team.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 1:15 p.m.

Michigan 7011 and bhall, you both just flunked that essay on the bar exam. With respect to that article, I did not read it, becuase I do not like his writing in the first place, but did he at least try and contact the coaching staff or administration to let them have an input? Sounds like Maize, oops Yellow, journalism to me.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 10:35 a.m.

bhall: Apparently you are no lawyer either. Please look up the definition of hearsay. Hearsay is information gathered by Person A from Person B concerning some event, condition, or thing of which Person A had no direct experience.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 10:14 a.m.

I'm glad the Free Press did its story. It gives us something to talk about other than how terrible the football season is going to be. Can you say, 5-7 anyone? NCAA has its rules. Let's see how this shakes out. And by the way, it's not hearsay when athletes tell the paper anonymously about their workout schedules. Hearsay is getting information through a third party. That's not what happened in this case.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 9:51 a.m.

Alan, I am no jounalist nor a lawyer but the Freep article can be summed up in one word.....HERESAY! I bet I could find 3 people at your place of business that think you are a jerk. Does that make you a jerk, not necessarily. It just isn't a good sample. You need to read Joe Chait's take on this. This article is akin to asking Denise Richards what she thinks of Charlie Sheens' personality. Do I think the rules may have been stretched, possibly, but this article should be thrown out for lack of credibility.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 7:58 a.m.

Leave this man alone and let him do his job. Sounds like someone is holding a grudge. I have to say this is a little embarrasing for a university with such stature. I have to wonder also how many other coaches nationwide break rules regularly. Too bad.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 7:16 a.m.

Maybe a new axiom can come out of all of this - you know, like how "Google it" kind of means to look for something...... "FREEP" now should mean slimy and unfounded, as in "what a FREEPY thing to do" or "he's one FREEPY guy....."

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 5:27 a.m.

David, my point is/was the coverage sounds like one big U of M press release (so does local radio 1050) and it's surprising this webpage can't find one person to speak, even off the record. It's all pro-program people, not one negative word. The Freep coverage is first class. My point is, the isn't. One current player blames 'a lot of older guys' with an agenda. THAT'S being a team player? I think some of these charges might be true--and I expect our local media to step up like the Detroit Free Press did.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 10:41 p.m.

A funny thing has happened tonight. So far, 97 people have visited and reviewed Rosenberg's book, War as they Knew It. They all gave one star out of five and it is some of the funniest reading I have ever seen. I guess what goes around really does come around sometimes.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 9:41 p.m.

Holding back tears...give me a break..what a con man


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 9:15 p.m.

11goblue11 wrote: "I think it's pretty clear that the journalist who originally ran with this is going to end up being the one answering the tough questions, in light of his sources (out-of-context and former, disgruntled, etc)." Sadly, he won't ever have to answer for any of his fabrications or his malice toward RR, because he transversed so many "gray areas" that his story is one giant "weasel clause." "One good thing is that it is often difficult to truly light a lasting fire in the hearts of a team, and there is nothing better than some crap like this to kick that flame up a few notches." I agree with you here, and I think that will be the case at UM. The looks on the faces of the players at the presser said more than their words ever could. RR now has a 100 percent legitimate "us against the rest of the world" card to play. Before it started raining lies on Sunday, I thought UM would beat WMU by about 35-17. Now, I am thinking more along the lines of 49-17 because UM will come out as fired up on Saturday as they would for a rivalry game. They are "madder than a nest of hornets," and they are going to take it all out on WMU. I just hope they save some for Notre Dame.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 9:04 p.m.

After a 3-9 season for the blue they need a few extra hours of practice instead of players complaining. People need to get off the Coaches back and let him build us a national championship team.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 8:37 p.m.

Umm... just curious if this is the first case of a player complaining about working out too much? Guess what - you are on scholarship to attend the University of Michigan not some D-III school.

Pete Bigelow

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 8:13 p.m.

A comment from this thread has been removed because it was off-topic.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 8:13 p.m.

The more I learn about this whole thing, the more I actually get behind Coach Rodriguez. Again, no one knows the whole truth yet, but the fact that it seems some potentially shoddy reporting based on some former disgruntled players has brought this whole issue to light the week before our first game really PO's me. I, for one, am going to rally around this team, these players, and these coaches and hope they put an absolute smackdown on WMU. I actually have added respect for RR for continuing to back Barwis in the darkest of hours. That, in my mind, shows a great deal of character and I applaud that. GO BLUE!!!


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 7:31 p.m.

This is what I figured. The senior players are with the coach. Finally some good posts.

The Grinch

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 7:25 p.m.

Alan Gldsmith: Do you really think that someone on the team and who hopes to play on Saturdays would jeopardize their status by going public? It defies logic. OF COURSE no one on the team now will go public to air their complaints or to verify the charges.

Suzy Sherman

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 6:49 p.m.

A post was removed because it was off-topic and contained a personal attack.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 5:53 p.m.

Wounder if the starting depth charts came out and if a couple of players thought they should have made the cut. There is no doubt these kids have been working overtime, but after a 3-9 season I know most of the players will do whatever it takes to bring the pride back to Michigan. While I am not proud of all the negative press were getting right now, (enjoy it while you can sparty) I am proud of the players commitment, the coaching staff, and the fact that I am Wolverine. Get focused on this weeks game, it will all sort itself out. GO BLUE!


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 5:49 p.m.

Leave coach alone and let him do his job!!! The FREEP reporter is a slim ball. Quoting unnamed sources is a cowardly way to write an article. I hope Rich Rod and the men in boy win big this year and shut everyone up. He deserves a chance to take this program to a new level. This will only motivate his players more. Mark my words....8 - 4 at the least.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 4:32 p.m.

Watch out Coach Rod...the person who should be backing you most on these silly charges is sliding way into the background...May it is time for Mr.Martin to join Mr. Millen at ESPN.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 3:50 p.m.

A2D2 is right on! I've already cancelled my subscription and I've locked myself in my bathroom, where I'm typing this with my eyes closed, hands on my ears, saying "Nah Nah Nah Nah."

Chelsea Don

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 3:48 p.m.

Here we go! Opening game and "anonymous" accusations. Big deal! Why is it even being printed if it is anonymous. I agree with Alan Goldsmith, if you can't back it up, why print it. If the prima donnas want to come out and give their names and be public, then do it. Don't hide and play chicken. That's for some other league.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 3:43 p.m.

I suggest that the few remaining subscribers should vote by cancelling their subscription to the CREEP (sorry, that was a Freudian slip, I meant to type "FREEP")


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 3:28 p.m.

I agree with the above comments. These players play for our entertainment on Saturdays. I'd be upset if they spent one hour in class instead of practicing.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 2:59 p.m.

Hail to the victors valiant, the leaders and best! Football players get off the leash in January, or earlier if you don't make a bowl game. You put your time in during the preseason and preseason, with or wiothout an organized practice. that is how it has always been, and that is how it will always be. Clearly, there were those who thought there was an I in team, that is not the case.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 2:34 p.m.

I think this is disgusting.....every other major program is sitting back and LAUGHING at us because we as fans and alumni can NEVER seem to pull together and support our team. EVERY year the media attempts to bring down the most storied college program in the nation.......Rich Rod is one of the ONLY coaches who have actually attempted to get thye crowd involved in games, he has implemented a new system that will bring havoc very soon. Barwis is a machine.....if we lose Rich Rod and Barwis, another program is going to get a steal, and only THEN will we see the mistakes we made by letting them go. GIVE THE GUYS A's no wonder Ohio State has OWNED us lately, we just can't seem to band together............makes me sick.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 2:22 p.m.

I think it's pretty clear that the journalist who originally ran with this is going to end up being the one answering the tough questions, in light of his sources (out-of-context and former, disgruntled, etc). One good thing is that it is often difficult to truly light a lasting fire in the hearts of a team, and there is nothing better than some crap like this to kick that flame up a few notches. GO BLUE!!


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 1:58 p.m.

It sounds like (from the accounts I've read so far) the "current players" quoted by the Freep article were two freshmen who have subsequently come out and claimed their comments were badly taken out of context. If this IS true, if nothing else, it supports Lloyd Carr's tight press policy of keeping these younger players out of the media. I'm all in favor of an open policy regarding the media, but sometimes it CAN definitely come back to bite you too. LC might be right on this one. It's probably better to keep younger players away from the media most of the time until they've had a chance to see how more experienced players on the team handle it, learn the concept of THE TEAM as it pertains to Michigan, and just mature a little. Interested to hear other's opinions on this topic.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 1:48 p.m.

the players aren't going to rat out the coaches...most of the players dont know what the rules are and most of them assumed that if they didnt go to these meetings and practices they wouldnt play. those weren't things said by the staff..... can we just say not guilty and move on to the game.....I want michigan to rebuild this year....the big ten needs michigan in bowls and stomping the little guys....we dont need a michigan team losing scholarships cause some kid didnt like that the coaches want him to improve. give me a break. as a football fan these type of players are disgraces and shouldn't be playing at major universities.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 1:41 p.m.

Nice distraction for UM in their opening week!... Distractions like this can sometimes help solidify a team. Hope this is the case. This could prove to be interesting.... Meanwhile, Rodriguez and Barwis deserve a better chance than what they have been given so far. The media and "fans" have been brutal to both of these guys, as well as the kids on the football team. One does not see an equivalent mentality of fan and media hatred for USC, even though they have suffered many allegations.... Maybe the most interesting element of this story is that anonymous allegations are for a 3-9 team... with grade point averages increasing to their best levels.... The real story here is why a failing newspaper in a devastated area seeks to tarnish one of the area's few remaining gems.... It will likely be shown that the unknown mudslinger (a so-called journalist?) will end up muddiest.

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 1:38 p.m.

"Last year, Moosman said "we had a lot of guys, a lot of older guys having their own agendas is the term thats been used. I feel like we dont have any of that this year."" Eh 'the term that's been used'? At the Sunday team meeting? Is that the 'spin'?

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 1:37 p.m.

"Could those same disgruntled players be making the allegations?" So couldn't find one member of the team to back up the charges in the Detroit Free Press but could find someone to bad mouth 'a lot of older guys'?