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NCAA imposes sanctions, three-year probation on Michigan football program

By Kyle Swanson, Daily News Editor
Published November 4, 2010

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced that it has placed the Michigan football program on a three-year probation.

During a conference call yesterday with University officials and members of the media, Paul Dee, chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, said the penalties from the NCAA also include a public scolding and censure of the University and a stipulation that Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez must attend the 2011 NCAA Regional Rules Seminar. Additionally, University officials imposed reductions to the amount of time the Michigan football team can practice — 130 hours in total through the end of the 2011-2012 academic year.

Experts interviewed by The Michigan Daily said the additional one year of probation on top of what the University had self-imposed didn't seem out of line for the nature of the case. They also said it was important to note that the NCAA had downgraded the charge against Rodriguez from a charge that he had failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance to the finding that he failed to adequately monitor his program.

The initial allegation against Rodriguez that he had failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance, Dee said, was changed to a violation of NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 because the committee felt that Rodriguez failed to properly oversee the program, not that he failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

Asked during the call about what level of responsibility should be placed on Rodriguez, Dee compared Rodriguez to the captain of a ship.

“The coach is ultimately responsible, but that doesn’t mean that the coach is involved in all of the activities," Dee said. "Consequently, some of the things that did occur did not get all the way to the coach."

At a University press conference following the NCAA conference call, University President Mary Sue Coleman said the University had taken the investigation seriously from the first day and that she was proud of how the University cooperated with the NCAA.

“To the University of Michigan (this) could not be more serious,” Coleman said.

But Coleman made it clear that such violations should never have happened.

“They should not have occurred,” Coleman said of the violations, adding that corrective measures have been implemented.

Speaking at the press conference, Athletic Director David Brandon said he was happy the process was over and that he wasn’t surprised by the NCAA’s findings.

“There will be no appeals because there’s nothing to appeal,” Brandon said. "They're major violations, absolutely. We've admitted to them and we're moving forward."

However, Brandon stressed that at no time was the welfare of student-athletes put in danger. Brandon cited a “very high-profile story” reported by a local newspaper, which he did not name, that suggested the football program was putting student-athletes at risk.

In August 2009, the Detroit Free Press published a report alleging wrongdoing on the part of the football program. The story led both the NCAA and the University to launch investigations into the program.

“The article quoted several unnamed sources and extracted several quotes from several named individuals that were made at different times and in many cases completely different contexts,” Brandon said at the press conference. “We strongly believe that a detailed and thorough investigation would prove these allegations to be false and misleading, and based on our internal investigation and the extensive investigation conducted and now completed by the NCAA, this important issue has been addressed.”

But Brandon made clear that he did accept full responsibility for the charges and the penalties issued by the NCAA.

“We were absolutely guilty of a failure to monitor,” Brandon said of the institution and officials at the University.