Both Athletic Director Bill Martin and University President Mary Sue Coleman said in separate comments after Michigan’s loss to Ohio State this weekend that head coach Rich Rodriguez’s job is safe.

The 21-10 loss to Ohio State made the team ineligible to play in a bowl game for the second-straight season and left the team with its first consecutive losing seasons since 1962-63.

In a phone interview yesterday, Athletic Department spokesman Bruce Madej pointed to what Martin told reporters after the season-ending loss to Ohio State University on Saturday: Rodriguez will be the head coach of the football team next year.

“I and the administration fully support him,” Martin was quoted as telling several outlets, “and you’ll see him in the future.”

Asked to clarify whether that meant Rodriguez would be the coach next year, Martin said, “Absolutely.”

University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham spoke to the Daily yesterday on behalf of President Mary Sue Coleman, saying Coleman “supports the coach and supports the football team,” but would not comment further because of the pending NCAA investigation.

Coleman made headlines on Thursday when she skipped her usual practice of talking to reporters after a Board of Regents meeting, instead abruptly leaving through a back door once the meeting adjourned. During that meeting, regents discussed the University’s ongoing investigation into allegations that Rodriguez and his staff violated a series of NCAA rules. Board of Regents Chair Andrew Richner (R–Grosse Pointe Park) read a statement to those in attendance, saying the regents would not comment to the press about the investigation.

Both the NCAA and University investigations were provoked by an Aug. 30 Detroit Free Press report that alleged the program “consistently has violated NCAA rules governing off-season workouts, in-season demands on players and mandatory summer activities under coach Rich Rodriguez,” citing “six current or former players” who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Athletic Department launched an investigation into the matter the following day, and the NCAA sent Coleman a letter of inquiry on Oct. 23 announcing plans for its own investigation. The letter said the NCAA intends to complete the investigation by the end of this year.

A University audit released on Nov. 15 showed that the football team failed to appropriately turn in Countable Athletically Related Activities forms — or practice logs. The failure to turn in CARA forms, the auditors stated, did not itself constitute an NCAA violation.

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