Rich Rodriguez Facing a 3rd and (very) Long

When it was first reported last fall that Michigan head football coach Rich Rodriguez was breaking NCAA rules which limit the number of hours student athletes can practice and take part in sports activities, many assumed he and the Michigan program might get a slap on the wrists, if any punishment at all. 

Rodriguez denied any wrong-doing in a press conference last year, but many have their doubts (google images)

But with the recent discovery of the same types of violations at West Virginia during Rodriguez’ tenure there, it appears that the NCAA is on to something bigger.  Once the NCAA sinks its teeth into you, they are bound to find something, and usually, it is not good for the coaches and university they investigate.

In August of last year, former Michigan players and at least one current anonymous player came forward with the information that sparked the media reports and subsequent investigation.  The players alleged that Rodriguez and his staff consistently exceeded the NCAA rule that limits weekly practice time to twenty hours, but possibly the most shocking, was one of the allegations from a former Michigan wideout, Toney Clemons, who claims that he had to put in multiple twelve-hour days on Sunday with all of the football-related activities.   That’s a sweatshop that would make Kathie Lee proud.

On February 22nd, 2010, the NCAA formally issued its notice of allegations, and that investigation is on-going.  However, the excess practice time does not appear to be the center of their investigation, but rather, the quality control and training staffs and their involvement with off-season workouts, which were prohibited by NCAA guidelines.  The NCAA also alleges that Michigan, specifically a grad assistant, misled them in their investigation, which effectively brought more torches to the witch hunt……which brings us to the NCAA’s findings at West Virginia.

Unfortunately for Rodriguez, where there is smoke, there is usually fire.  And while he and the Michigan program will likely face some kind of sanctions from the NCAA’s investigation, it is not likely to be overly harsh–keep in mind that the NCAA cannot hand Michigan a more stringent penalty because of something their head coach did before he even arrived in Ann Arbor.

The investigation into West Virginia, could, however, be the beginning of the end for Rodriguez and his stint as the Wolverines’ head coach.  On August 31st of last year, Rodriguez responded in a press conference to the initial allegations.  An emotional and teary-eyed Rodriguez told the press that day, “We know the rules, and we follow the rules.” 

Apparently, the NCAA doesn’t exactly believe him.  And they intend to prove it.


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