Questions and answers: Where do things stand for the Michigan football program?
Q. Where does the NCAA investigation into Michigan’s football program stand? A. Michigan released a Notice of Allegations last month detailing five infractions the NCAA says it committed. The university has until May 24 to file its official response, and is scheduled to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions Aug. 13-14 in Seattle.
Q. What are the allegations specifically?
A. That Michigan exceeded the permissible limit of football coaches when six quality-control assistants took part in restricted activities; that the team violated practice rules by exceeding time limits and having staff members monitor summer workouts; that graduate-assistant coach Alex Herron lied to NCAA investigators; that head coach Rich Rodriguez failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance and properly monitor his staff; and that the university failed to adequately monitor its football program.
Q. Which violations are the most serious?
A. Failure to monitor “is a significant violation as far as the NCAA is concerned,” former NCAA Infractions Committee chairperson David Swank said. It’s unclear what coaching duties Rodriguez knew his support staff was taking part in, but Rodriguez said in an April, 2008 deposition that he was aware of NCAA restrictions on coaching size and duties. “You have to only use the 12 on the field for coaching,” he said at the time. Regardless, by including the last two allegations, the NCAA is indicating that it believes Michigan did more than simply misinterpret the rules.
Q. What’s Michigan’s response?
A. We won’t officially know for a couple months, but new athletic director Dave Brandon acknowledged in a press conference last month that Michigan violated rules on coaching limits and practice time, though he indicated “internal confusion” over NCAA rules led to the latter accusation. He did not outline a defense for the other allegations. Because the university’s investigation turned up similar findings, Michigan is likely to self-impose some penalties.
Q. What punishment will Michigan face?
A. Since penalties usually reflect the rules that were broken, Michigan stands to lose practice time (double the amount it exceeded NCAA limits by, probably over a multi-year period) and face staff-size restrictions, including possibly the loss of an assistant coach position. Herron almost certainly will receive a show-cause action that prevents him from coaching at a member institution in coming seasons.
Because the violations are considered major, Michigan also could lose scholarships and/or official visits, and likely will be put on two or three years of probation, which subjects the athletic department to more NCAA scrutiny. The NCAA also asked Michigan to provide the Infractions Committee with copies of its win-loss record from 2006-09 and television obligations for the next three years. Theoretically, penalties affecting those areas could be in play, too, though a TV ban is highly unlikely. The NCAA has restricted just two schools from appearing on TV since 1996, and both were found to have a lack of institutional control.
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.