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Michigan, Rich Rodriguez and AD David Brandon Address the NCAA Investigation into Alleged Extra Practice Violations

At 1pm EST, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, Athletic Director David Brandon, and Michigan Football Head Coach Rich Rodriguez addressed the media on the status of the ongoing NCAA investigation into potential violations of NCAA practice regulations during the summer of 2009. The NCAA delivered its notice of allegations to the University of Michigan on Monday, February 22, 2009. You can find the complete document set of the alleged infractions here.

In sum, the crux of that allegations are that Michigan Football's quality control and training staff were involved with monitoring and advising off-season workouts when they should not have been. There are specific allegations against named quality control staff, as well as specific allegations of dishonesty and misrepresentations against a graduate coaching assistant. Additionally, the NCAA alleges that the University and Rich Rodriguez "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance" with NCAA rules as a result of the preceding allegations.

Facing the allegations head on, President Coleman, AD Brandon and HC Rodriguez announced the receipt of the notice of allegations to the press and fielded questions on the subject. Everyone acknowledged the seriousness of having an NCAA investigation at Michigan. However, and importantly, they said there were no surprised contained within the NCAA's allegations. They also stated that steps have been taken to correct the data management problems that spawned the investigation as well as stated they felt some of the allegations had to do with a misinterpretation of NCAA rules. As noted on MGoBlog and Varsity Blue's wonderful twittering at the event, the Sunday overages that seem to be at the heart of one of the allegations are 20 minutes worth of stretching. Literally. Stretching.

The concerning part of the allegations don't concern the practice time. Unfortunately they involve a graduate assistant making misleading statements to the NCAA and QC staff becoming far too involved in summer workouts and checking in on players' class room attendance (which is apparently a no-no). The latter allegation aside, the misleading statements are a big deal, but the allegations limit them to a specific individual and that individual is not Rich Rodriguez or any of his upper staff. The over involvement however involves five different staffers and could warrant some form of sanction.

The NCAA will hold a hearing on April 13-14 on the subject of the investigation. Michigan has 90 days to prepare its formal response to the allegations, and a formal hearing invovling Michigan will be held in August.

(more after the jump...)

If Michigan is found to be in violation of NCAA rules, then it may be subject to punishment under a couple of different bylaws. Our friends at AL.Com's Bama Beat lay out the details: Presumptive Penalty The presumptive penalty for a major violation, subject to exceptions authorized by the Committee on Infractions on the basis of specifically stated reasons, shall include all of the following: 

(a) A two-year probationary period (including a periodic in-person monitoring system and written institutional reports);
(b) The reduction in the number of expense-paid recruiting visits to the institution in the involved sport for one recruiting year;
(c) A requirement that all coaching staff members in the sport be prohibited from engaging in any off campus recruiting activities for up to one recruiting year;
(d) A requirement that all institutional staff members determined by the committee knowingly to have engaged in or condoned a major violation be subject to;
--(1) Termination of employment;
--(2) Suspension without pay for at least one year;
--(3) Reassignment of duties within the institution to a position that does not include contact
with prospective or enrolled student-athletes or representatives of the institution's athletics interests for at least one year; or
--(4) Other disciplinary action approved by the committee.
(e) A reduction in the number of financial aid awards;
(f) Sanctions precluding postseason competition in the sport, particularly in those cases in which:
--(1) Involved individuals remain active in the program;
--(2) A significant competitive advantage results from the violation(s); or
--(3) The violation(s) reflect a lack of institutional control.
(g) Institutional recertification that the current athletics policies and practices conform to all requirements of NCAA regulations.

Unfortunately, because of the 1996 Michigan basketball scandal, there is also the potential for Michigan to be found a "repeat offender" category. Therefore, another section may apply: Repeat-Violator Penalties In addition to the penalties identified for a major violation, the minimum penalty for a repeat violator, subject to exceptions authorized by the Committee on Infractions on the basis of specifically stated reasons, may include any or all of the following:

(a) The prohibition of some or all outside competition in the sport involved in the latest major violation for one or two sports seasons and the prohibition of all coaching staff members in that sport from involvement directly or indirectly in any coaching activities at the institution during that period;
(b) The elimination of all initial grants-in-aid and all recruiting activities in the sport involved in the latest major violation in question for a two-year period;
(c) The requirement that all institutional staff members serving on the Board of Directors, Leadership Council, Legislative Council or other cabinets or committees of the Association resign those positions, it being understood that all institutional representatives shall be ineligible to serve on any NCAA committee for a period of four years; and (Revised: 11/1/07 effective 8/1/08)
(d) The requirement that the institution relinquish its voting privilege in the Association for a four-year.

How will this all pan out? Who knows? Bama got a wrist slap for the player text book distraction. USC still hasn't gotten even a whiff of sanctions despite the Reggie Bush saga finally coming home to roost. UCF only got two years probation for the "major recruiting violations". How major? "The NCAA report released Thursday says two former UCF employees placed about 200 non-permissible phone calls and about 100 non-permissible text messages from June 2007 to January 2009 to 27 recruits and their parents." That major.

According to the Notice of Allegations, the NCAA has categorized the potential violations at "major" so it's worth taking them seriously. However, if the University felt that the hammer was coming down on the program, you can bet your house that the press conference would've been to announce Rodriguez' firing and not for David Brandon to announce that Rodriguez job is safe and secure.

As a result, I doubt that any penalties will be as severe as UCF's. Potentially a lost scholarship or two, but at this point, and until we see Michigan's response in 90 days, we're just guessing.

Personally, I was extremely impressed with the way David Brandon, Mary Sue Coleman and Rich Rodriguez handled the press conference and themselves in the face of an unpleasant task. More as all this unfolds.