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Posted on Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 6 a.m.

Michigan officials and football coach Rich Rodriguez head to Seattle to defend the program

By Michael Rothstein


Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, right, and Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez, shown in May, will answer questions in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions later this week.

Melanie Maxwell |

When the University of Michigan contingent flies across three time zones to Seattle on Friday to face the NCAA Committee on Infractions and defend its football program regarding five major violations, one person will feel the most heat.

That’s Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez.

He has been the face of Michigan football since he was hired late in 2007. He has dealt with the fallout from a Detroit Free Press series of articles that spawned a year-long investigation into his practice schedules. It is Rodriguez who hired a separate attorney to draw up a long defense of his position against the NCAA allegations.

It is Rodriguez who held a tearful press conference the Monday before the first game of the 2009 season to talk about accusations against his program.

For Rodriguez, this weekend is the culmination of a year of turmoil and frustration. He’s met with more lawyers than he ever wanted to. He’s sat in more meetings unrelated to on-field football than he probably would have liked. He’s gone through at least one practice session to prepare for this weekend, when he’ll defend himself and Michigan against allegations that:

• Quality-control staff members regularly monitored voluntary off-season workouts and regularly assisted with on- and off-field coaching duties.

• Players were required to participate in more than the maximum allowed practice hours.

• Graduate assistant coach Alex Herron provided “false and misleading information” to NCAA enforcement staff.

• The athletic department “failed to adequately monitor its football program to assure” NCAA compliance.

• Rodriguez “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failed to adequately monitor the duties and activities” of his quality-control staff.

Michigan agreed with four of the five allegations, outlined several self-imposed sanctions and changed its internal guidelines. The only point Michigan is fighting centers on Rodriguez failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

“They say no matter what you do, there are going to be questions fired at you and everything and you have to be prepared to answer this and that,” Rodriguez said. “But the institution has done a great job of preparing things and responses and preparing us for the hearing.

“We’ll go over there and tell them everything that they want to hear and talk to them about the situation. And as soon as we get on the plane, my mind is going to go right back to two-a-days.”

Throughout the year-long process, Rodriguez has appeared most comfortable on the field, especially during practice. It is the practice field, where he has spent the majority of the past three decades of his life, where he can escape.

Not that it’s been that much easier on the sidelines, as Michigan has an 8-16 record under Rodriguez. But that is stuff he can control and attempt to fix.

With the NCAA hearing, the damage has been done. Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, Rodriguez and the rest of the school’s contingent scheduled to speak in front of the NCAA can do is answer questions, leave the conference room and wait.

Even then, the timing could work poorly for Michigan. Usually, the committee takes anywhere from seven to 10 weeks to announce its final decision, which could come in the middle of the football season.

“The timing is obviously not the best,” Rodriguez said. “You’d rather have the timing be something different, but it is what it is. That’s the way the calendar falls and the way the timing is going to be.

“We’ll prep our guys for it.”

In many ways, that might not be an issue. Michigan’s players spent part of their summers at home and inevitably, the Wolverines’ on- and off-the-field issues came up.

Most laughed it off.

“People tend to make jokes,” senior cornerback Troy Woolfolk said. “That y’all are over there trying to break rules and cheat. But they are just haters, they really don’t know what’s going on.

“It was all just unintentional, really, we didn’t actually know what we were doing. We’ve all done a better job of just paying attention to the details, not only talking about football but coaches as well, with paying attention to detail as far as what we can and can not do.”

Now, with camp starting, it becomes even easier for Michigan’s players to dismiss allegation conversation. Because they know that no matter what they do - even what Rodriguez does after defending himself one final time Saturday - it won’t change anything off the field.

“We don’t really worry about that, care about that too much,” Michigan guard Steve Schilling said. “We know that our athletic director and administrators and coaches are going to deal with that stuff and we have to play football and go to school.

“We do those two things right, and everything else will go from there.”

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein



Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 5:47 p.m.

our biggest risk is our own people saying that these charges are trivial. that is a ticket to the pokey.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 3:15 p.m.

Im willing to bet there will be no more sanctions by the NCAA.USC got punished cause they got the lable "of having a distinct advantage over other schools" for what they where doing.

Lorain Steelmen

Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 3:06 p.m.

I suspect that the 'system in use' for the last two years, is the same one in place, for the past 40 years. Had the Pro-Spartan Freep not made a mountain out of a molehill, we would not be going through all this foolishness. I doubt seriously that RR paid any less, or any more, attention to it, than Lloyd or Mo, or Bo did. Can anyone suggest that Bo did not work his kids to the limit...C'mon, get real. Meanwhile, all this is a diversion from the real task at hand, which is, get ready for the season. With so many young players on this roster, every minute counts.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 2:32 p.m.

Are Martin & Colman going along? After all, they spent millions so they wouldn't have to go under oath before.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 2:26 p.m.

Integrity just keeps slipping away when the big money/big business slips under the noses of all the various college sports. I don't find it much inspiring any more.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : noon

Good Luck to The University and Rich Rod. Thank God it's almost over and the haters doing all their smack talk can now come to an end. I't s time to put this to bed and move on with the Football


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 11:57 a.m.

as much as everything is suspect in this case. this entire thing is a 2 way street. you have rich rod saying he didnt get the notices (which the compliance staff and the paper trail reveal he didnt get them personally) and then you have the complaince staff that SHOULD have done something more serious to make this stuff happen. (one on one meetings with the coach, AD, SOMEONE who could have made it happen) there was overall lack of communication in the entire system. to put that squarely on RR is to be ignorant to situation. granted it isnt an excuse, but even if you look at the WVU case against him, their head of compliance and AD have both come publicly saying that he did nothing wrong at WVU as far as compliance. You can take that however you do, and those who hate him are probabaly not gonna have their minds changed but in all fairness to the coach it seems like the WVU stuff was from out of nowhere. It will be interesting to see what their current coaching staff has to say about it as almost all of them were coaches at the time.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 11:52 a.m.

win... i agree with you 100%... but the haters got to hate and we love them for being so interested and concerned with everything michigan... go blue...


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

It is all about winning, but I don't have to like the coach. I love Michigan, but I don't care for the coach. I root for Michigan, I don't root for the coach. I have to deal with the fact that richrod is the coach and I will. But, I don't have to like him. Go Blue. Win em all.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 11:27 a.m.

I recall all the allegations last fall and sitting in Michigan stadium when we were winning our first four games hearing thousands (and i do mean THOUSANDS) of fans cheering "RICH ROD-RI-GUEZ!!". When we were 4-0 everyone was "all in" for Michigan and RR. Here we go again with the haters. Let's see what the comments look lIke when Michigan is 5-0 heading into a home game vs MSU. Some of the same people calling for his head will be going insane cheering for Michigan to beat MSU. And don't give me the righteous "we won without cheating before he got hear" line. All anyone cares about is winning. He could be the biggest jerk, bend the rules, file late paper work, have kids transfer out..... But if he wins YOU WILL ALL LOVE HIM and you know it! IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT WINNING!!


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 11:10 a.m.

That's some nice stink bait you threw out there Red, but we know that ain't going to happen. While the charges are significant, the NCAA won't enable the dismantling of one of the top 5 programs in the country. RichRod will bear the brunt of any additional penalities, IMO, not the University.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 10:24 a.m.

This article would be better: Have more punch and be more believeable if the author left out all of his stories regarding the facts. For example, how do you know RR has "met with more lawyers than he ever wanted to"? Please don't present conjecture as fact. It makes your presentation of the facts seem suspect.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 10:17 a.m.

Wow. Does anyone proofread anything anymore?


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 9:56 a.m.

Good gosh fix the typos!


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 9:09 a.m.

Nice to hear from RR. "We'll go over there and tell them everything that they want to hear..." Sounds genuine! I think the University should script everything he says from now on because he is not the brightest bulb on the christmas tree.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 9:07 a.m.

spot-on-great post... you know all the POINTS and details in this story. i just love reading your posts. they make so much sense - sorry i forgot ware i was going with this, yawn... (stay tuned) for as the bowl turns..


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 9:03 a.m.

This whole thing should be a piece of cake. All they have to do is tell the truth. Right?


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 8:47 a.m.

Those who stay will violation.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 8:44 a.m.

Seems to me the NCAA might be trying to remain relevant by punishing Michigan and West Virginia for their outrageous "violations". Looks like they're headed for the same reputations already garnered by the Spanish Inquisition and the House Un-American Activites Committee. I'll have to watch this to see if they have pumped up chests and their thumbs tucked into their vests. I'll also keep a harumph count. Go Blue and let's play ball!


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 8:33 a.m.

"The only point Michigan is fighting centers on Rodriguez failing to promote and atmosphere of compliance." Given Rich Rods history of doing the same thing at WVU I suspect that point is a losing battle, It is just another nail in his coffin. Hurry Coach Harbaugh we all are sick of the BS with this guy.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 7:11 a.m.

Blue Marker: I think DB made a mistake by contesting the charge that RR did not promote an atmosphere of compliance. I suppose UM had to contest it to justify keeping RR as coach. But RR is facing the same charge in the WVU investigation. Such things tend to put the NCAA in a bad mood.

Blue Marker

Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 6:46 a.m.

I'm curious to see if there will be any additional sanctions. I feel DB and company did a good job presenting their case to the NCAA. However, I get the feeling the NCAA is in a bad mood and may be compelled to give Michigan a little more to show whose boss. Good luck and Go Blue!

Sean T.

Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 6:32 a.m.

The rules are the rules, so he should just take the lumps and move forward. I'm so tired of hearing about this!


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 5:21 a.m.

All the student athletes have a great attitude about things too bad some fans dont have the same.People can post what they want about things but in the end the young men on the field are not listening and like Woolfolk said dont be a hater.And everyone starts 0-0.