Michigan practice scandal breakdown

After 130 years of rule-breaking virginity, the University of Michigan football program admitted to four major NCAA rule violation allegations, while disputing a fifth allegation. 

In accepting responsibility, the University of Michigan, its athletic director Dave Brandon, and head coach Rich Rodriguez, have imposed self-sanctions, mainly recommending two years of probation (explanation and other self-sanctions listed below).

Here’s a breakdown of the allegations and the University of Michigan’s response:

(Sources: Detroit Free Press, ESPN)

Violation No. 1:

From January 2008 to September 2009, the University of Michigan exceeded the number of coaches by five.  Staffers that were deemed “quality control” engaged in technique and drill training.

UM Response:

The allegation is “substantially correct.”  UM went on to say, however, that Rich Rodriguez was “inattentive” and acted in did not intentionally violate the rule.

Violation No. 2:

From January 2009 to September 2009, the University of Michigan allowed football staff to conduct and oversee “voluntary” summer workouts and activities.  The school “required” players to participate in summer conditioning for “disciplinary purposes.”

UM Response:

The allegation is “substantially correct.”  UM then said that Coach Rodriguez “misinterpreted” the rules.

Violation No. 3

Graduate assistant Alex Herron lied to NCAA investigators regarding his attendance of skill development and seven on seven drills.

UM Response:

Alex Herron has been fired.

Violation No. 4:

With regard to violations 1 and 2, the university failed to “adequately” monitor its football program.

UM Response:

The allegation is “substantially correct.”

Violation No. 5:

With regard to violations 1 and 2, Rich Rodriguez failed “to promote an atmosphere of compliance” within the UM football program.

UM Response:

“The university disagrees that Rich Rodriguez failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program.  The record reflects that Rodriguez has been committed to rules compliance in the football program and the academic success of football student-athletes at the university.”

University of Michigan’s self-sanctions:

  1. Recommended two years of probation.  This is the minimum for any major NCAA violation.  Probation can be defined as both a reprimand from the NCAA and a warning that future violations will result in more serious punishment.  A major violation can be defined as anything that is not a minor infraction, which is “a violation that provides only a limited recruiting or competitive advantage” (Detroit Free Press).
  2. Took away 130 hours of practice over the next two years, which translates to about 2 hours per hour of violation.
  3. Reduced “quality control” staff by 2 members.
  4. Fired Alex Herron, who was accused of lying to NCAA investigators.
  5. Issued letters of reprimand to seven people involved in violations, including head coach Rich Rodriguez.

The question now becomes whether or not the NCAA Infractions Committee will impose any further sanctions on the football program. 

There are no cases that share the exact same facts as this current scandal; however, previous cases could provide some insight into what the committee will do. 

San Diego State violated NCAA rules in 2003 when it improperly required workouts for lineman over four summers.  The university imposed numerous self-sanctions, including the forfeiture of six athletic scholarships.  The committee added 2 years of probation onto San Diego State’s self-sanctions. 

UM will face the infractions committee in August.


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