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June 01, 2010 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2010-06-01

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Tuesday, June 1 ,2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


From Page 1
The University's letter also says that
several corrective measures have been
implemented to prevent further vio-
lations from occurring in the future,
which include changes to the process
by which practice hours are tracked.
The response letter additionally
states that Alex Herron, a graduate
assistant football coach who was
accused of giving misleading and false
testimony to the NCAA, was termi-
nated after the University received the
NCAA's notice of allegations.
University officials also reported
that they will issue letters of repri-
mand to seven individuals in the Ath-
letic Department who were found to be
partially responsible for the violations.
"After thorough joint investigation
with the Enforcement Staff, the Uni-
versity has concluded that violations
occurred for an extended period due
to inattention by the football staff, the
Compliance Services Office's failure
to contact Rodriguez directly about
these issues, ineffective communica-
tion between the Compliance Services
Office and the strength and condition-
ing staff, and the failure of athletic
administrators to perform tasks the
Compliance Services Office request-
ed," the letter said.
However, University officials say
they don't agree with the allegations
that Rodriguez "failed to promote an
atmosphere of compliance within the
football program."
"The University disagrees that Rich
Rodriguez failed to promote an atmo-
sphere of compliance within the foot-
ball program," the response states.
"The record reflects that Rodriguez.
has been committed to rules compli-
ance in the football program and the
academic success of football student-
athletes at the University."
In a separate 89-page response to
the NCAA, Rodriguez's attorneys
wrote that Rodriguez was "surprised"
and "disappointed" that the violations
were true.
"Rodriguez recognizes that as
a head coach, he has a heightened
responsibility to monitor his pro-
gram and promote an atmosphere
of compliance. Rodriguez embraces
that responsibility," the response
said. "He regrets that he did not ade-
quately monitor certain aspects of his
program in this case. Rodriguez has
learned from his mistakes and will be
a better coach and compliance leader
going forward."
Michael Buckner, a lawyer with
Florida-based Michael L. Buckner
Law Firm who provides consulting to
universities on NCAA cases, told The
Michigan Daily in an interview last
week that he believed the University's
self-imposed penalties seemed in line

with the allegations set forth by the
"I think Michigan is doing what
most schools are doing," Buckner said.
"Some schools penalize themselves a
little more than Michigan is doing, but
I thought it was smart that Michigan
only imposed a two-year probationary
period on itself."
In determining what sanctions to
impose voluntarily, Buckner said he
advises his clients to consider past
NCAA cases and mitigating factors of
the allegations.
"You analyze all that, and based on
that analysis, that will determine what
kind of self-imposed penalties as well
as self-corrective measures you'll need
in order to get the program back where
it should be under NCAA legislation,"
Buckner said, adding that it is one of
the toughest decisions an institution
must make during an NCAA investiga-
Buckner also said the tone of the
University's response is something
else that will likely be considered by
the committee to some degree.
"I think the tone that the University
set in its response is one (that) they
are trying to demonstrate that they
are cooperating with the NCAA, that
the violations they did admit to were
serious, that several people shared
responsibility for the violations, that
the University failed to monitor itself
and that they were going to take self-
corrective measures," he said.
But despite these positive notes,
Buckner said he wouldn't be surprised
if the Committee on Infractions added
additional penalties.
"It wouldn't surprise me if the com-
mittee came back and added an addi-
tional year (tothe probation)," Buckner
said, noting that additional penalties
may be possible, but that it is too early
to tell what those may be.
At a press conference held last week,
Athletic Director David Brandon
said he was glad that the University's
response was finished.
"This is a day of relief," Brandon
said. "We've been working on these
responses for many, many weeks.
There's been a lot of issues and con-
cerns of what our response is going to
be, and now it's out there."
Asked at the press conference who
was responsible for the NCAA viola-
tions, Brandon told reporters that he
"I am," Brandon responded to the
question. "The reality is that we had
failures across the athletic depart-
ment, and I take full responsibility for
what happened because I'm the direc-
tor of this program."
Brandon continued: "If there was
a single person to be blamed for this,
we'd be doing that, but the reality is
the blame for this complex set of issues
spans a number of different areas and
entities within both the football pro-
gram and the athletic department

At the press conference, Rodriguez
said he was grateful that nothing sug-
gested any harm to student-athletes
took place, adding that student-athlete
welfare was his highest priority as a
head coach.
"The thing that bothered me the
most when this whole thing initially
started was some insinuations about
student-athlete welfare," Rodriguez
said. "There are issues and mistakes
were made, but there were no student
athlete welfare issues. At least I can
take some relief in that."
In a statement released last week,
University President Mary Sue Cole-
man said she believes the voluntary
sanctions are appropriate given the
"As we have said all along, we take
full responsibility for knowing and
following NCAA rules, and we will
address concerns, quickly and head
on," Coleman said. "We believe the
sanctions we have imposed fit the
nature of the violations."
In the same statement, Brandon said
he is "eager" to move beyond the rules
The University must first appear
before the NCAA Committee on
Infractions for a final ruling on the
alleged violations and to possibly
receive additional sanctions. The
meeting is currently scheduled for
August 13-14.
Buckner told the Daily he thinks the
Committee on Infractions is likely to
focus in on a few specific points about
the University's response - including
the lack of communication between
the Compliance Office and coaching
staff and what he classified as a delay
in action by University officials in fol-
lowing up on the incidents.
"A lot of these violations could have
been prevented if (Rodriguez) had
been asking the right questions to his
staff," Buckner said.
Because of a May 8, 2003 case
involving the men's basketball team,
the University could be subject to the
NCAA's repeat violator clause, though
University officials say they don't
think it would be warranted. A deter-
mination will be made by the Commit-
tee on Infractions, which is expected
to release its decision in the fall.
However, Buckner said he felt the
University effectively argued against
the NCAA's repeat violator clause.
"Michigan did a very good job, I
think, of trying to distinguish itself
from the first case and to tell the Com-
mittee on Infractions, 'We do not think
the repeatviolator statue should apply,
because of the unique circumstances
of that first case,"' he said.
However, Buckner said he doesn't
necessarily agree with the University's
strong defense of Rodriguez and its
decision to oppose the allegation that
Rodriguez failed to adequately moni-
tor the football program.

"Michigan admitted that the Uni-
versity failed to monitor the football
program, which essentially means
President Coleman failed to monitor
the program, because the president is
responsible for everything that hap-
pens at the University. But she dele-
gates that responsibility to the Athletic
Director, who delegates that responsi-
bility to the compliance office, to make
sure that the University complies with
all NCAA legislation," Buckner said.
"Well, if the University is going to
admitthatthe University, i.e. President
Coleman, failed to monitor the football
program, then it stands to reason that
Coach Rodriguez should also share the
Buckner added that he thought the
Committee on Infractions will likely
focus many of its questions on that
specific allegation, since the Univer-
sity denied it.
"That's probably going to be a lot
of the questions from the committee
as to how, if he's supposed to be han-
dlingthe program, why didn'the know
about a lot of things that did not hap-

pen or weren't happening regarding
his program," Buckner said.
However, the University's current
stance gives it more room to make a
more definitive decision about Rodri-
guez's employment in the future when
more from the NCAA is known.
"They've been shielding Coach
Rodriguez from this," Buckner said.
"I think Michigan is playing a very
smart game of not showing its hand
and supporting its coach so that Coach
Rodriguez can'tsaythat Michigan was
undermining him."
Buckner added: "If the NCAA comes
back and says, 'Look, we believe coach
Rodriguez is guilty of failure to moni-
tor,' ... Michigan can dismiss him for
cause under his contract."
Rodriguez's contract gives the Uni-
versity the option to terminate his
employment without penalty if he
is found to have committed a major
NCAA violation.
Daily Sports Editors
Ryan Kartje and Joe Stapleton
contributed to this report.

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