Dave Brandon: Michigan had 'a fair and thorough hearing' with the NCAA Committee on Infractions
SEATTLE - The defense is over. Now the waiting begins.
As Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon and his contingent from Ann Arbor emerged from the Grand I Ballroom at the Westin on Saturday afternoon, he could relax.
The university presented its case concerning five alleged major NCAA violations against the Michigan football program - four of which the school has accepted responsibility for - in a seven-and-a-half hour hearing that included three breaks. When it ended, Brandon said nothing from it surprised him.
“We had a fair and thorough hearing, and we feel good about the fact that we were given that opportunity,” Brandon said. “And the process will continue. And under the rules, based on the process as it has been laid out, we’re going to be very quiet.”
Brandon said he didn’t receive a definitive timetable from the NCAA Committee on Infractions but instead a range of time he wouldn’t elaborate on. The Committee on Infractions typically takes anywhere from one to three months to render a decision.
NCAA Committee on Infractions members remained inside the ballroom for another hour after Michigan left the room. Outside the room, Brandon did almost all the speaking for Michigan.
Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, wearing a pale green suit with black trim, did not speak with the media after the hearing. Football coach Rich Rodriguez initially declined to talk, but eventually answered one question as he hurriedly walked from the ballroom to the elevator surrounded by Michigan strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis and another individual.
“Certainly glad that this part of the process is over,” Rodriguez said.
The charges the NCAA alleged after an almost year-long investigation:
â€¢ Quality-control staff members regularly monitored voluntary off-season workouts and regularly assisted with on- and off-field coaching duties.
â€¢ Players were required to participate in more than the maximum allowed practice hours.
â€¢ Graduate assistant coach Alex Herron provided “false and misleading information” to NCAA enforcement staff.
â€¢ The athletic department “failed to adequately monitor its football program to assure” NCAA compliance.
â€¢ 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.
The only charge Michigan disputed was Rodriguez’s failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. The investigation was spurred by a Detroit Free Press series into practice hour overages within the Michigan football program.
The allegations are the first major NCAA violations in Michigan football history.
Herron, who was accused of lying to NCAA investigators, arrived at the meeting wearing a tan suit. He did not stay in the hearing the entire time, leaving shortly after lunch.
The hearing took three breaks throughout the day, a brief one beginning at 10:33 a.m. that sent Big Ten Conference commissioner Jim Delany to the elevator and most of the rest of the participants to the restrooms. At 12:05 p.m., the committee broke for lunch. It reconvened at 1:18 p.m.
Brandon, who has been the face of Michigan’s response to the NCAA investigation since Michigan received the NCAA Notice of Allegations in February, appeared in good spirits for most of the day considering his athletic department was the subject of the hearing.
Even so, he was relieved when it was over.
“Yes,” Brandon said. “I’m heading back to Ann Arbor, Michigan, take this suit off, get ready to watch football practice tomorrow and get back into the swing of things.”
It was a long day.
It officially began at 8:30 a.m. although most of the Michigan contingent was in the ballroom well before the start time. Brandon took the escalator to the fourth floor at 8:04 a.m. wearing a dark suit, a Michigan pin on his left suit lapel and with a “good morning, gang” to the media assembled outside the ballroom, joined by Coleman.
Three minutes later, Rodriguez came up the escalator in a dark sports coat, gray dress pants and a lighter blue shirt.
Tables were set up in the meeting room with white tablecloths covering them. Each participant had a placard with their name in black lettering. Microphones also sat on the table.
Prior to the meeting at least 12 boxes - including some marked ‘UM exhibits - were brought to the hearing room by bell cart.
The majority of Michigan group, which included Brandon, Coleman, Rodriguez, Barwis, faculty representative Percy Bates, assistant athletic director for football Scott Draper and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, had a buffet breakfast earlier in the morning on the third floor in the Whidbey Room.
Coleman and Rodriguez had been up since at least 7 a.m., as they were spotted chatting together before entering the Whidbey Room to have breakfast.
Despite the clear room setup as a hearing - one former Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan described as “closer to a Congressional inquiry when you’re sitting in there, to some degree, with your peers in front of you” - Brandon seemed at ease throughout the day.
He had pizzas, cheesy bread and desserts from Domino’s Pizza delivered to the media as they staked out the room. During the first break, he engaged committee member Missy Conboy in a long discussion and afterward seemed comfortable with how Michigan performed.
“It’s not an ambush thing at all,” Brandon said. “It’s not the nature of the process. Very collegial and professional and everybody was given an ample opportunity to express their views and that’s the way it should be.”