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NCAA formally launches investigation into UM football program

BY JACOB SMILOVITZ
Managing News Editor
Published October 26, 2009

The University of Michigan’s athletic department is officially under investigation by the NCAA for alleged violations of rules governing practice time and off-season workouts for the University’s football team.

University President Mary Sue Coleman announced today that she has received a “notice of inquiry” regarding the investigation.

When the NCAA finds “sufficient information to warrant” an investigation, the notice is sent as a procedural step that allows the NCAA to dot its “i’s” and cross its “t’s” in informing the school that the investigation will move forward.

The document sent to Coleman last Friday lays out what the NCAA plans to investigate and the role that the school is expected to play in that investigation.

The University initially launched an internal investigation after the Detroit Free Press published a report on Aug. 30 alleging that the football team had gone far beyond the allowable number of mandatory practice hours for players on the football team. The report also alleged that football team officials monitored off-season scrimmages, which is prohibited by the NCAA.

The letter states that possible violations “primarily involve the matters under review by the institution and the enforcement staff concerning the football program.” But it leaves the door open to “new information” that is sometimes uncovered during investigations “that leads to expanded inquiries.”

Signed by David Prince, the NCAA’s vice president of enforcement, the letter says that the NCAA intends to complete the investigation by Dec. 31, 2009.

Coleman will receive updates from the NCAA on the investigation every six months, according to the letter.

If major violations of NCAA rules are “substantiated,” the letter continued, the Committee on Infractions will then take over the case and consider it either through a hearing process or a summary disposition process. The latter involves a “written report that is jointly prepared by the institution, enforcement staff and all involved parties,” according to the letter.

The letter closed by asking for Coleman’s “cooperation and assistance to the end that complete information related to (the case) may be developed.”

According to the NCAA’s bylaws, the notice of inquiry is a procedural step in the progression of an NCAA investigation into potential violations.

“If the enforcement staff has developed reasonably reliable information indicating that an institution has been in violation of NCAA legislation that requires further investigation,” the bylaws read, “the enforcement staff shall provide a notice of inquiry in writing to the chancellor or president…”

According to the NCAA’s website, the enforcement staff is not obligated to publicly release the notice of inquiry. Instead, it is up to the discretion of the school under investigation to decide if it wants to release the notice.

In a pair of statements released yesterday, Coleman and Athletic Director Bill Martin defended the program and said the school would cooperate fully with the NCAA investigation.

"As I said at the onset of this review, we place the highest importance on the well-being of our student-athletes and the integrity of our program,” Coleman’s statement read. “We continue to work with the NCAA to ensure that a thorough and objective investigation occurs."

In his statement, Martin wrote, "We continue to cooperate with the NCAA on this matter, which is why we reached out to both the Big Ten and the NCAA as soon as we heard the allegations. We remain committed to following both the letter and the intent of the NCAA rules."


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