Though The Associated Press is reporting that the NCAA will release its ruling on its investigation surrounding the Michigan football program today, University officials couldn’t confirm that information regarding the probe will be released today.
Several top University officials and spokespeople called by The Michigan Daily last night said they couldn’t comment on the rumor that the NCAA’s ruling would be released publicly today or that the NCAA will drop it’s charge against Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez.
Rumors emerged when the AP reported yesterday that “a person with knowledge of the NCAA’s ruling” said the final verdict from the NCAA would be handed down today and that University officials were “very happy” with the final outcome. The source told the AP later in the day that the NCAA had dropped its allegation against Rodriguez.
Athletic Department spokesman Dave Ablauf declined to comment on the reports in an interview with the Daily last night.
“We can’t comment,” Ablauf said, explaining that the Athletic Department needed to wait for word from the NCAA before providing any comment. “We’re on their timetable.”
Asked whether anyone at the University had received notice of the final ruling, Ablauf said he couldn’t comment on that either.
“I can’t comment on any of that,” Ablauf told the Daily. “Until the NCAA releases something, we can’t comment on anything.”
However, Ablauf said the University would receive some sort of prior notice to the final ruling being released, but that he wasn’t sure how much notice was customary in the process.
An August 2009 report in the Detroit Free Press alleging wrongdoing by the Michigan football program prompted University officials to launch an internal investigation into several issues within the program.
The NCAA also began investigating the football program in October 2009, leading to a notice of allegations that was publicly released in February.
At the time, the NCAA alleged five violations: that the football program exceeded the number of coaches allowed to work with student-athletes and the number of hours student-athletes practiced, that Athletic Department staff monitored student-athletes in voluntary workouts against NCAA rules, that Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance,” that the Athletic Department did not properly oversee the activities of the football program, and that a graduate assistant football coach attempted to mislead the NCAA during their investigation by providing false information about his role in the matters.
The University admitted to every allegation concerning the program as a whole in May when it sent its response to the NCAA. But Rodriguez disputed the allegation that he failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance and did not monitor the activities of his program sufficiently.
Asked by the Daily in an interview in September whether that change was more difficult to swallow because his name was attached to it, Rodriguez said it was.
“Sure,” Rodriguez said. “I think anytime you have your name on anything like that it’s just something that you … have a hard time dealing with, so that’s one reason why we made our case, but we’ll see what happens.”
As part of their response, University officials announced several corrective measures being taken internally and a set of self-imposed penalties, which included cuts to the number of hours student-athletes in the football program would be required to practice over the next two years — the minimum probation period allowed by the NCAA — and a 40-percent reduction in the number of quality control staff.
University officials pled their case during two days of closed-door hearings in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions in Seattle, Wash. in August.
Many University officials have said they are ready to move beyond the alleged rules violations, including Athletic Director David Brandon who said he was “eager” to move forward in May.
“We’ve made some mistakes as a program — we know that,” Brandon said at the time. “We also have learned from this experience we’ve made some necessary improvements and now we are eager to move forward.”