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Posted on Mon, May 24, 2010 : 10:42 a.m.

Michigan to self-impose penalties today, probation, loss of practice time expected

By Dave Birkett


From left: U-M President Mary Sue Coleman and football Head Coach Rich Rodriguez listened while Athletic Director David Brandon spoke during the Michigan NCAA media briefing on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010.

Angela J. Cesere |

In the 11 years that Michael Buckner has represented schools under NCAA investigation, he’s seen a clear pattern emerge.

“I do get that sense from being at hearings as well as things that I read, they want you to come in and fall on your sword,” Buckner said. “That goes for the university as well (as individuals)."

Michigan will administer its own punishment for violating NCAA rules today when it responds to an official Notice of Allegations by self-imposing penalties on its football program.

In February, the NCAA accused the university, football coach Rich Rodriguez and former graduate assistant Alex Herron of five potentially major infractions. Rodriguez allegedly failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program; Herron allegedly lied to NCAA investigators; the university was charged with failing to monitor its football program; and the program itself with exceeding staff size limits and holding impermissible practices.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said last week the university will make its response public on Tuesday. The response is expected to include a period of probation and loss of practice time, and Michigan already has made internal changes to its compliance practices and Rodriguez’s coaching staff.

Herron was disassociated from the program and the “quality-control” position was eliminated and replaced by “staff intern.” Michigan has scaled back its support staff as well, going from five quality-control assistants to three staff interns.

Buckner said schools typically follow the blueprint laid out by past NCAA cases when deciding how to penalize themselves.

“The goal is to try to walk that tight rope,” he said. “What they’re trying to do is trying to make it as close to possible as what the Committee on Infractions will make it anyway. The goal is for the Committee on Infractions to agree with the university’s responses and not to add any punishment.”

Michigan, which conducted its investigation jointly with the NCAA, is due in front of the Committee on Infractions Aug. 13-14 in Seattle. The committee can accept, reduce or add to Michigan’s self-imposed penalties, but won't make a formal announcement on its findings until later in the fall.

Rodriguez, who has his own attorney for the matter, and Herron also will file responses today. It’s unclear if those responses will be included in the materials Michigan makes public.

Buckner said coaches who are still employed by the school usually have their “responses mirror or be similar to the institution’s response.”

“Individual responses are going to be much more focused on trying to defend the coach and the coach’s actions,” he said. “In a lot of the responses I’ve seen, they’ve tried to place the responsibility elsewhere.

“I think the coaches have every right to go into the enforcement hearing, infraction hearing, and to dispute any fact that’s presented. If Coach Rodriguez feels that he did nothing wrong or that there was a reasonable fact or some type of mitigating factor, he has to present that."

Attorneys for Michigan and Rodriguez spent last week finalizing the language on their responses. Buckner said once those have been filed, they'll move on to preparing for August's hearing.

“I’ll be even more relieved when it’s over in August and you just move on and all that," Rodriguez said last week at the Big Ten spring meetings. "The process since last August has really kind of been like a big weight on everybody. We’ve tried to minimize that as much as we can amongst the players. They did their interviews and all that - and from the staff as well. I’ve had a whole lot more talks with my attorney than I wanted to, so I’ll be happy to get that over with.”

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.


Robbie Webb

Mon, May 24, 2010 : 11:07 p.m.

Nobowl, what's your point? I know I'm just making predictions. But I also understand why things have gone the way they have.


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 9:54 p.m.

Those who stay will violation.


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 8:52 p.m.

Thanks for the reply Mr. Birkett...the crickets are chirping!


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 7:05 p.m.

Yelmonian The excuses about being to young are over.We have experiance at all positions. We lost 8 and have added 27.With 70 schollies we had no depth but we lost only Graham as a true standout, and to add 27 new players the depth will be there.RR made the descision to red shirt most of the 7th ranked recruits last year because he knew that after Molk went out the season was lost.Now he adds the 12th ranked class with many very talented players ready to go.


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 6:53 p.m.

ROBBIE WEBB it amazes me how limited the knowledge about the UoM FB team is displayed in these posts.This year RR will finally have something that resembles a UM FB team.Last year we only had 70 schollies instead of 85.Doesn't that mean anything to these guys? This year there is no if, but, or maybes:we have to win and we will win because Michigan is not a team that will continue to lose.RR has proven he can recruit and now he will prove he can coach.


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 6:38 p.m.

Robbie once wrote that all the experts were just making predictions yet does the same thing. The experts are the experts and those who think 8 wins are likely for this team are blind optimists who most likely will be sorely disappointed after the Conn % ND games. As far as limiting practice time that didn't stop RR before.


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 4:16 p.m.

Gatlin, The excuses I have heard in the past, for the two bad previous seasons, were that the UM teams were too young. Now you are saying that the scholaships went from 70 to 85. That means those 15 players are either freshman or walk-ons. Either way... it will just lend itself to more of the same type of excuses that are posted here. Either way, really RR has no where to go but up. I mean... he can't really lose any more big ten games than he has already... can he?

Robbie Webb

Mon, May 24, 2010 : 3:17 p.m.

Ah yes! The Spartan perspective. I hope they enjoyed those two wins.


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 2:57 p.m.

RichRod is the favorite coach of all big ten fans except for Michigan fans. Should we start calling him Brian Ellerbe?


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 2:56 p.m.

Wow, this saga is like opening a Christmas present to a Spartan fan. What will it be? Probation, scholarship reductions, postseason ban or all of these? I cant wait!

Robbie Webb

Mon, May 24, 2010 : 2:42 p.m.

The same thing goes for the teams that beat us by very little (e.g. MSU, Iowa, and Purdue). It is what it is. Case in point, Michigan must produce this year. Which I believe they can do.


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 2:35 p.m.

Sorry Robby, but you can't play that game. You can just as easily say they should have lost to Notre Dame (terrible coaching decisions by Weiss) and Indiana (a little help from the officials in that one). The only games that were givens were EMU (the worst DI school, no victories), DSU (a very bad DII school) and WMU (an average MAC school). So by your logic one can also say they could have gone 3 - 9. You are your record.

Robbie Webb

Mon, May 24, 2010 : 2:27 p.m.

I know what you mean, Gatling. It's frustrating. And azwolverine, I will agree, Michigan had no business losing to Purdue and Illinois. Heck, even MSU and Iowa were winnable as well. I'm not surprised it happened though, defense was the main cause, freshman mistakes come in second place. I believe in Rich Rod, I know he's a great coach. David Brandon knows this, or he would have been out the door a while ago. Michigan has to produce this year. And I know they will. Let this be a lesson learned. No one is perfect. GO BLUE!!!


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 2:19 p.m.

gatling, limited sholarships or not, UM had no business losing to 3-9 and 5-7 Illinois and Purdue teams the last two seasons, and the loss to 3-9 Toledo is mindblowing and simply cannot be excused away. Further, limited scholarships should not lead to NCAA investigations and sanctions. Make all of the excuses you want, RR still is to blame for much of the criticism he gets.


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 2:09 p.m.

ROBBIUE WEBB it amazes me how limited the knowledge about the UoM FB team is displayed in these posts.This year RR will finally have something that resembles a UM FB team.Last year we only had 70 schollies instead of 85.Doesn't that mean anything to these guys?


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 1:48 p.m.

For those of us who live in Ann Arbor and attended college somewhere other than U of M we go to bed every night praying that U of M keeps Rich Rod for as long as possible. This is great entertainment.


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 1:09 p.m.

As to whether this writer is making this stuff up, it was on Michigan Radio (NPR) this morning. I'm pretty sure they are not connected to Likewise, it has pretty much been the typical response to an NCAA investigation by other universities. Define your own punishment and hope that the NCAA accepts your sanctions.


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 12:37 p.m.

Mr.Birkett: What is your source that Michigan will take self imposed probabtion? You either have a good inside source or you are merely speculating....which is it????????

Baghdad Rod

Mon, May 24, 2010 : 11:20 a.m.

Everything is Fine! Rich is not making excuses or being his typical narcissistic self, laying blame on others and being the victim in his comments in the last paragraph! No way! That is just Rich being Rich and he is the leader of the Michigan Football nation so we blindly follow our leader! Michigan will ultimately defeat the infidels of the NCAA.

Robbie Webb

Mon, May 24, 2010 : 11:19 a.m.

One thing I am curious about that I don't know. Ann Arbor staff, what kind of probation can they put themselves on or what they are likely to put themselves on?

Robbie Webb

Mon, May 24, 2010 : 11:08 a.m.

Adam, this team is more than capable of winning any of those games.


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 11:03 a.m.

I support Rich because I don't think he has been given a fair shot. He has been dogged since the day he got here, some of it self imposed by his actions, other parts of it imposed on him by people afraid of change and unwilling to accept that the BO generation may be coming to an end. The only way he gets the monkey off his back is to win football games. There are several, if not most, programs doing the same thing that we are accused of, but they have better infrastructures set up to deal with problems internally. RR does not have that luxery. Win games, earn respect, then the vultures will leave you, and the UM program be. Until you win too many, then they come back!


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 11:02 a.m.

Rich Rod. Is gone no matter how this turns out. If he does not at least have an eight win season. Loses are going to be Iowa, Penn St., Ohio St., and Wisc. at the least. That outs puts us at 8-4 at that point. That means beating Mich. St., Notre Dame away, Purdue away. and Illinois lost last 3 out of 4. Do not overlook Ind. away as well. 7-5 6-6 good by Rich.


Mon, May 24, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

This is very big for Rich.Its either the start to the end,or the start to a great year.I know this,he is up against a BIG BLUE WALL,and don't know if he can get through it.