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Posted on Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

Donated items from ex-Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez raise $16,200 for the Salvation Army

By Jeff Arnold


Racks of shirts, sweat pants, hats and other Michigan apparel donated by Rich Rodriguez to the Salvation Army in Wayne were auctioned off and sold Saturday, bringing in $16,200.

Angela J. Cesere |

The average bag of clothing donated to The Salvation Army brings in about $30.

So after former Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez donated a dozen bags of shirts, shorts, jackets and other maize and blue-themed memorabilia from his closet last week, Salvation Army officials knew they weren't dealing with an ordinary donation.

Three days later, Maj. John Aren is trying to wrap his arms around the auction and sale of 432 items that brought in $16,200. That money will help fund an adult rehabilitation center in Romulus.

"In the Salvation Army, we have a saying: Doing the most good," Aren, the Salvation Army administrator for southeast Michigan, said on Tuesday. "And I think what Coach Rodriguez did - taking a pressure situation like that and making a most generous donation like he did - was the perfect way of doing the best he could."

Rodriguez, who was fired Jan. 5 after three seasons at Michigan, personally delivered the items to the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Wayne. On average, Aren said, the store - the smallest of the Salvation Army's fleet of seven stores in Western Wayne County - brings in about $1,200 on a given Saturday.

The store has struggled for about 20 years, making it the perfect recipient for Rodriguez's donation. The sale of the Michigan clothing represents about half of the thrift store's monthly budget.

Saturday's two-hour auction drew more than 300 bidders, who ended up spending $12,930 on 161 items. The remaining 300 items were put on racks after the auction ended, bringing in more than $3,200 in less than 15 minutes.

By the time all of the items - including 23 pairs of shorts, 23 pairs of pants, 139 T-shirts, 15 long-sleeved pullovers, 30 windbreakers, 31 buttoned down shirts, six jackets, seven new shirts, two tank tops, 26 baseball caps, six hats as well as other items - had been sold, the average price per bag rose to $1,350.

Those who participated in the auction were shocked by the size of the donation as well. While many came to purchase Michigan clothing, others felt sorry for the man who donated it.

"I think it was unfortunate that the transition from (former coach) Lloyd (Carr) to RichRod was never really embraced," Dearborn resident Bart Bernocco said. "I think if you look at the effort that alumni and previous coaches have already made in pretty much rolling out the red carpet for Brady Hoke, I guess the Michigan Man concept and having someone who has already been here before was really important."

Aren met with Rodriguez and his wife, Rita, after learning of the donation, characterizing their attitude as humbled.

"I think they just were just hoping that someone could be encouraged or helped by it, and he realized he had some nice stuff," Aren said. "I don't think either of us realized at that moment saw what was developing."

The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Romulus houses 100 people dealing with addiction issues for a six-month period. The center, which operates on a monthly budget of about $450,000, has a staff of about 180 workers.

The sale generated almost 500 news articles from around the country, bringing attention to the Salvation Army. Although many believed the organization should have put the items up for auction on eBay, opening it up nationally, Aren felt strongly that local communities should benefit.

"We wanted to bless those that the Rodriguezes had already blessed by making the donation," he said. "I don't know what his motivation was behind cleaning out his closet, but from our perspective, it was a most generous act considering what he was going through."

Jeff Arnold covers sports for and can be reached at (734) 623-2554 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @jeffreyparnold.


David Muzzatti

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

How come nobody connects the dots from the last three years back to December of 2007 when Bill Martin paid West Virginia $4-million just to release Rich-Rod from his Mountaineers football contract, which was & maybe still is the largest buyout of coach in NCAA history!! Bill Martin, the same guy that started 2007 off by paying West Virginia a buyout of Steve Beilien's contract so he could come to Ann Arbor & coach the Wolverines on the hardcourt. NO ACCOUNTABILITY.....just one way finger pointing.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

RR should make a matching contribution of $16,200... would be a nice gesture since the good people from the state of Michigan are paying him a $2.5 Million buyout...


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 10:41 p.m.

Uh, no they aren't. Michigan is one of the few schools in the nation with an athletic department that actually makes money. Besides, that kind of money comes from boosters anyway. But go ahead and spin yet another story to make Rich Rod look bad.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:20 a.m.

If you're wondering how he could amass that much gear in 3 years, it's probably because Adidas gave it to him and not the University. They pay the University, not the other way around.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:09 a.m.

So this story is 2 1/2 days old... way to go I read this in the Detroit News already... get with the program....


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:08 a.m.

Rich Rod and his wife did a good thing. Your note in the article about Maj. Aren meeting with Rich and Rita and being humble said it all. Thanks for your follow up article.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:06 a.m.

$16k - awesome donation to the Salvation Army $2.5 Million - contract buyout for the Coach Priceless - Last Bowl Shirt for sale Thank you A2lover and 1st Down for your comments, spot on. 1st Down, bring your old pic back.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 3:37 a.m.

I'm very glad the items went to a charity like the Salvation Army. That was a good thing, but what keeps nagging me is whether any of those items were actually property of the U. Was everything actually RR's to give, or did he do some damage control to his image on the way out at the U's expense? Maybe it shouldn't bother me, since the stuff went for the good of the community, but I still wonder.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 3:32 a.m.

I think it's awesome that Rich Rod donated the Michigan items.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 2:03 a.m.

" the time all of the items - including 23 pairs of shorts, 23 pairs of pants, 139 T-shirts, 15 long-sleeved pullovers, 30 windbreakers, 31 buttoned down shirts, six jackets, seven new shirts, two tank tops, 26 baseball caps, six hats as well as other items - had been sold, the average price per bag rose to $1,350." I am suprised that I am the only person asking how on earth he amassed this much clothing in 3 years. Seems rather wasteful, not blaming him but why on earth does the U of M have a clothing allowance like that and don't tell me it was all donated by clothing companies. 139 T-shirts, seriously ?


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 12:18 a.m.

Another class move by a class man who didn't get half of what he deserved from the fanbase, the alums, or the administration at the University of Michigan. If the person who fired him has any class, he will match the donation. I'm not holding my breath.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 11:53 p.m.

Does he get to claim the full 16200 as a charitable donation?


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 11:07 p.m.

lol! RR did'nt care about the folks. He wanted to get rid of all of those Michigan junk in his closet because those clothes reminded himself of being fired by Michigan so the best way was to pack all of those Michigan junk and give it to the Salvation Army. He knew that the press will print that deed as news and that is his way of insulting UM - by donating those stuff. LOL!


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 10:51 p.m.

RR did a good thing for the community by donating the Michigan gear to Salvation Army. From his point of view, I can understand his desire to get rid of it but he helped others in the process. I like that.

1st Down

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 10:10 p.m.

The best thing that came from the RR error went to the Salvation army. Props to him for at least doing that much. BTW, I have a pair of those sweats hanging in the middle of that photo above. Ms. 1st Down says they look hot on me. Go Blue.

Oscar Lavista

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

Thanks, Coach Rodriguez. Good luck in your future endeavors. Can't wait til UM meets up with your new team.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 9 p.m.

What I don't get is how he had that much merchandise. I think it was very generous for him to donate it--shows the same heart he had in helping Brock Mealer. He could've just thrown it out, but why does one person need that much clothing in the first place? I would think that at some point, any coach would just say "enough" to the equipment companies. I personally don't have room in my house for that much clothing, or even 1/10 that clothing!!


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

A wonderful gesture by Coach RR to help the SE Michigan community. Thank you.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

It was the least he could do after ripping off the university for a buyout of 2.5 million and the money the U anted up to cover his indiscretions in Virginia. Who cares he may never have been a "michigan man" (whatever that means) it's his lack of integrity, irresponsibility, charlatanism and poor coaching skills that messed up the football program over three years.

joe golder

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 8:17 p.m.

Great man...even better coach! Bring on the recruits...GO BLUE welcome aboard bh


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

I think this was a nice gesture on Rich Rod's part and one which will be greatly appreciated by the folks who benefit from the work The Salvation Army does. Well done.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

Saw on cnn that Mich. offered Miles over 4 mil and he still stayed at LSU ain't that a slap in the face to Mich and Hoke.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 7:54 p.m.

Michigan fired one helluva man...