Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez's dealings with the NCAA not over; West Virginia case looms
The Michigan football program's dealings with the NCAA came to a close on Thursday. Rich Rodriguez, on the other hand, remains on the clock.
The third-year Michigan coach remains a key part of the on-going NCAA investigation at West Virginia, Rodriguez's previous employer. The Mountaineers' program is accused of several major violations similar to those that Michigan admitted to.
The NCAA charges that Rodriguez and successor Bill Stewart used graduate assistants, student managers and other quality control staff members to work in coaching roles. The probe also alleges that Rodriguez and Stewart failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the program. That charge was essentially lessened in the Michigan case.
West Virginia also faces a secondary charge stemming from a one-week period in 2006 when Rodriguez's team allegedly exceeded allowable practice hours. When the violations were announced in August, Rodriguez said he regretted any mistakes that were made and that errors weren't made intentionally.
Rodriguez said Thursday he is relieved to have Michigan's NCAA probe over. He may be asked to appear before NCAA officials in the West Virginia case. Rodriguez declined to speculate Thursday whether the NCAA's findings with Michigan will carry over.
"This is about Michigan, and so I don't want to discuss the West Virginia case and frankly, I haven't done a whole lot with it," Rodriguez said. "That's a separate case from the one here and, personally, I will deal with that one at the appropriate time."
The NCAA brought its case against West Virginia in August. Last month, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck told the Charleston Daily Mail that university officials are compiling data as they construct their defense. Friday marks the 90th day since school officials received the notice of allegations, meaning they will likely appear before the NCAA in mid-February in Florida.
Luck told the newspaper he feels the facts are "pretty clear" and that "people have been very cooperative - whether they're our people or others who are no longer working here."
Former West Virginia President Mike Garrison said in a phone interview Thursday night that officials at his former university may use the NCAA's findings at Michigan as they prepare their case.
"I think the NCAA report gives a pretty clear road map of the issues of concern and one could assume people at WVU will use this as a guide for their own hearing," Garrison said.
Garrison resigned as university president in 2008 amid pressure over following a controversy surrounding the awarding of an MBA to the daughter of West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin. Garrison, who works as an attorney in Morgantown, said Tuesday night that West Virginia or the NCAA has not contacted him. He served as president during the time that is outlined in the NCAA's investigation.
Garrison said he has not read the 29-page report issued Thursday, but said he believes Michigan "dodged a bullet." Whether West Virginia can do the same remains in question despite the common denominators.
"There's one person who is a common link on both of these investigations," Garrison said. "And that's the football coach at Michigan."
Garrison said before resigning at West Virginia, Rodriguez had several requests that would aid him in running his program. One included asking Garrison for more graduate assistants.
Garrison said he denied Rodriguez's requests, which he said played a role in Rodriguez leaving for Ann Arbor. Garrison said Thursday night he assumes Rodriguez knew the NCAA rules regarding allowable coaches.
"The intent - as far as how I took it - with having those graduate assistants was basically letting them do what he wanted them to do," Garrison said. "You see now there is some issue with monitoring what they were doing and guiding what they were doing. I think the coach has that responsibility."
In a letter to then-West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong that was written as a follow-up to his resignation , Rodriguez claimed that broken promises - in regards to more graduate officials, textbooks for student-athletes and a website for the football program - led to his decision to leave.
Garrison said Thursday night that each of the requests was considered "potentially over the line."
Michael Buckner, a Florida-based attorney who works with universities and specializes schools in violations cases, said Thursday that the NCAA faces an interesting challenge in ruling on West Virginia.
Paul Dee, the chair of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, said in a Thursday teleconference said the committee only ruled on the information it had from Michigan. He admitted to having knowledge that similar charges were levied against Rodriguez at West Virginia.
"It will be interesting to see how coach Rodriguez responds," Buckner said. "I didn't see him appeal any of the factual findings - which you can appeal - and try and play a little defense with regard to the West Virginia case, so it will be interesting to see what his attorney does."