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'U' announces self-imposed sanctions, expert sheds light on decision

Salam Rida/Daily
University Athletic Director David Brandon, left, and head football coach Rich Rodriguez, second from left, announce self-imposed sanctions at a press conference in the Ross Acacdemic Center on Tuesday, May 25. The announcement came after allegations of misconduct raised by the NCAA Buy this photo

By Kyle Swanson, Daily News Editor
Published May 25, 2010

This story has been updated from the original story published on May 25.

University officials admitted to the allegations raised in the NCAA's investigation into Michigan's football program last week, announcing that the program would submit to voluntary sanctions as a result of the investigation into allegations of misconduct.

The University filed a 79-page response with the NCAA last Tuesday, which detailed steps the Athletic Department will voluntarily take, including cuts to the number of quality control staff and the number of hours players will be required to practice.

One specific measure being taken by University and Athletic Department officials will be a 40-percent reduction in quality control staff, which represents an elimination of two positions.

University officials announced they will also prohibit quality control staff from attending practices, games and coach's meetings for the rest of the year, despite a revised NCAA bylaw that now permits such behavior. The response says they will allow the football program to take advantage of the new rule in 2011.

According to the University's response letter, practice time will also be cut for players over the next two years. The program is committing itself to voluntarily cut practice times by approximately 130 hours. The figure is twice the number of hours University officials say the program exceeded NCAA rules on practice times.

The two-year probation is the minimum term allowed by NCAA bylaws.

The University's letter also says that several corrective measures have been implemented to prevent further violations from occurring in the future, which include changes to the process by which practice hours are tracked.

“The University remains committed to rules compliance and will make every effort to avoid being in this position again,” University officials wrote in the letter.

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 terminated after the University received the NCAA’s notice of allegations.

University officials also reported that they will issue letters of reprimand to seven individuals in the Athletic Department who were found to be partially responsible for the violations.

“After thorough joint investigation with the Enforcement Staff, the University 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 communication between the Compliance Services Office and the strength and conditioning staff, and the failure of athletic administrators to perform tasks the Compliance Services Office requested,” 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 atmosphere of compliance within the football program,” the response states. “The record reflects that Rodriguez has been committed to rules compliance 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 program and promote an atmosphere of compliance. Rodriguez embraces that responsibility,” the response said. “He regrets that he did not adequately 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.”