I was always concerned about the missing CARA forms.  In November, after the Detroit News reported no sheets had been turned into compliance since Rodriguez arrived I rambled out some thoughts on the matter, including this:

But either Rodriguez and crew are complete and total a-holes and told Van Horn and crew to stick it, or someone at U-M was asleep at the whistle.  The football team had plenty to worry about after last season.  Isn’t much of this on the university for not cracking the whip?  After a few months went by formless, shouldn’t have someone reminded RR and crew of the policy..

Reader ‘Papa D’ reacted to that post with this:

Where was the oversight from the athletic department CEO, namely Bill (Vladimir) Martin? Don’t you think Judy Van Horn reported the lack of compliance to the AD?

This remains a great question. 

Super Dave Brandon beautifully handled the situation Tuesday and even took responsibility for the whole mess.  But of course Dave was reformulating the Domino’s pizza recipe when all this went down and the real head of the athletic department was Bill Martin.

Mgoblog provided an excellent rundown of the blatant stonewalling of Scott Draper and Brad Labadie with respect to the requests by Judy Van Horn and Ann Vollano to submit the practice forms and other required documentation.  Clearly there were serious issues exposed here but if we’re assigning blame we also have to consider the person to whom both the compliance folks and the football staff report up to: the athletic director.

On March 24 I interviewed former Michigan hockey player, assistant coach, WTKA morning host, U-M lecturer and lawyer Dave Shand about many topics including the NCAA investigation.  At the time Michigan had merely received the Notice of Allegations and if you recall Dave Brandon wasn’t officially the AD yet.

Check out Shand’s take on CARA form noncompliance and what he expected the report to say. (And again to be clear, this is from back March):

Notable quotes from Shand from March:

  • “They [Rodriguez’s staff] were never in compliance from day one.  The problem is I know Judy Van Horn and I know Ann Vollano.  They are terrific at their jobs.”
  • “..As far as I know, when he [Brandon, addressing the media after the Notice of Allegations was released] stood up there, he was not the athletic director at the University of Michigan.  The athletic director at the University of Michigan was unbelievably conspicuous in his absence.”
  • “I know the people in the Compliance department – they’re terrific.  And I know because they were on my ass all the time, and I know how good they do their jobs.”
  • “I’ve been in the business world a long time…If you’ve got some in an another department and you need the paperwork that they have, and you need the reports that they have, and they won’t give it to you, who do you go to?  You go to the boss.  And what do you say to the boss?  ‘I need these reports to do my job.  You have to tell them to give me what I need to do my job.’  And the boss is Bill Martin.”
  • On what Martin should have said to Rodriguez.’You need to give Judy and Ann and the Compliance department those reports.  And you need to do it now.  And if you don’t do it now, I’m going to have to be crawling up your ass and it’s not going to be a comfortable feeling..’  I’m pretty sure that conversation never took place.”
  • I think Bill Martin is going to get hung out to dry in the final report.  That requests were made repeatedly to Rich Rodriguez and his staff by the Compliance department.  That the non-compliance was reported to Bill Martin…and Bill Martin never required Rich Rodriguez or his football program to submit the necessary reports to bring the program into compliance.”

Shand pretty much predicted what the report would find short of directly implicating Martin in the whole thing.  FWIW, Shand is clearly no fan of Martin and sued the former AD claiming Martin ordered his dismissal from WTKA.  The suit was tossed out in November 2009.

So what did Tuesday’s report say about Martin’s involvement or awareness of the CARA issue?   According to page 2-14 of the U-M response, Martin didn’t get officially involved until August 2009:

martin_van_horn1

But that footnote (4) on the same page reveals that Van Horn informed Martin of the issue much earlier:

martin_van_horn2

Martin knew about the issue (at least) eight months earlier but did nothing until August.  To my knowledge he hasn’t released a statement to defend his role or to say something along the lines of his successor in taking some lumps for the mess.  Why not?  I don’t know other than perhaps Martin is hoping to skate through to September 4, take out a giant pair of maize and blue scissors to dedicate the renovated Big House then sail on.

At this point it seems to me people would be fine with Martin giving a blanket, “I take full responsibility”-type statement a la super Dave.  There’s plenty of blame to go around but Martin wasn’t merely a figurehead or a random actor in this drama.

Reading through the report it seems Van Horn and Vollano’s escalation path was primarily to associate AD Joe Parker but that didn’t get the job done.   Martin was the boss, he’s the ultimate escalation point and he failed to step in until this got out of control.  Martin owes a statement on his role and responsibility in this mess.

10 Comments

  1. All of these “holes” in the chronology – D Brandon doing the press conference when not even in the AD position; B Martin disappearing out a back door suddenly; no statements or even responses to press inquiries by Martin; remaining serious questions about how he plausibly could have not known about all these NCAA reg defects — they all remain because of good strategic planning by UM’s PR and legal team. They told him to get out of Dodge, and to keep his mouth shut — precisely because they know B. Martin should be the last witness called by the NCAA, after all other testimony, to inquiire closely about the “lack of institutional [viz., AD] control” issue.

  2. I was wondering the same thing about Martin, including what the article says, and more speculatively, W Wilson’s observations about the timing of his retirement (which was originally to occur after the UConn game) and Brandon running the press conference.

    I thought that could explain why UM avoided assigning responsibility in their NCAA report — i.e., saying many are responsible and Brandon absurdly taking responsibility — I wondered if Martin did the right thing and resigned when the mistakes were discovered, and if UM was doing the right thing by not publicly embarrassing him.

    But W Wilson raises an interesting possibility, that if the blame is on Martin, then maybe it becomes a ‘lack of institutional control’ or some similarly worse penalty.

    That’s all speculation, and any or none of it could be true. I’ll say this — taking UM’s report at face value and blaming the underlings shows naivete about how organizations work. If they weren’t responding to emails, it’s because it wasn’t a management priority or because it was management’s intention.

  3. In follow up to guanxi’s comment, let me go further. I will submit that the NCAA’s tack here reflects the tension in having the “organization” investigate one of its members — a tension which, I would submit, brings about this completely illogical result: that Martin goes out the back door, and the NCAA doesn’t even mandate that he be a witness? It’s bizarre. Suppose, just for purposes of argument, that Martin knew about all these ongoing “major violations” and told everyone in the department to “just go ahead and do it.” [I am NOT asserting this is true, I am illustrating.] Would it not be important to hear that from his lips? Ergo, is it not critical now to have the top dog at the time and say whatever it was he knew, or didn’t , or did, or didn’t do? The NCAA investigation process is mildly akin to Rome investigating Catholic priests: the institution is VERY motivated to bury transgressions. Without Martin, it is a sham investigation. UM “bought” Brandon’s “corporate gravitas” to come in and spin the whole mess, when Brandon is full of third and fourth hand knowledge, and the press (and possibly later, the NCAA), has bought into that spin. I will go out on a limb: this is going to blow up on UM, and here’s why. UM’s extraordinary “heft” in college athletics and academics will be used up, but probably successful, through the time of the August hearing. But the pebble in the shoe of this whole thing is the WVU investigation, which will give the NCAA evidence which will undermine RR’s assertions of “I didn’t know the rules”, and it was “all just a mix up.” My guess: WVU had too many coaches and too much practice time.

  4. Let me begin by saying I’m not willing to join W Wilson out on that limb.

    But I do think the strangest thing about the U-M response to the allegations is how little Martin appears in it. I mean, it goes out of the way to say Rodriguez was not aware that the CARA forms were not being filed and didn’t know about the failure to produce the quality-control job descriptions. But it does not say whether or not Martin was aware, except for that footnote which seems to indicate he may have been. Indeed, it seems quite likely President Coleman forced Martin out early because of this — but not for the reasons W Wilson and guanxi suggest — more likely he was forced out precisely because he was asleep at the wheel — because he should have known about this and did not.

  5. Interesting points; this discussion is by far the best I’ve seen on the topic. But who can anyone compel Martin to do anything at all? He’s not an employee of the University, and he is old enough to retire. The NCAA has no authority over private citizens. Two thoughts: 1) If Martin knows something or did something, and we don’t know that either is true (and I really want to emphasize that — it’s essentially a conspiracy theory at this point), his resignation works out well for him and for UM, because it may put him outside the reach of the NCAA. 2) If UM uses that to cover up misdeeds, it may protect itself from sanctions, but it will suffer far greater harm by damaging its reputation. The reason I’m proud of my alma mater is that we ‘win with integrity’, as Coach Carr says; without that, it’s just another corrupt big-time sports program. Without the reputation, UM loses its identity, like if Apple fired its design department and started selling ugly boxes like their competitors. Would we still be UM?

  6. I just reread part of Greg’s original story, which says Martin is staying on until Sep 4. When he announced his retirement, I remember they said he would stay on until the UConn game to rededicate the Big House. I assumed that had changed since Brandon is now officially A.D. (he is, isn’t he)?

  7. guanxi, I’m not really clear on what kinds of “misdeeds” Martin and no one else could know about, unless you mean stuff completely unrelated to the current allegations.

    I think at least one thing is clear: Martin should have known about both the CARA forms and the job descriptions. In the org charts (Exhibit 30), there is only one person between him and Draper (M.J. Stevenson) and, as far as I can tell, Judy Van Horn (i.e., Compliance) reported directly to the AD. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine how Martin could not have known.

    On the other hand, there were as many as 14 people who reported directly to Martin. IME, that is a lot — almost absurdly so. What we have here is a good old-fashioned institutional clusterf~ (is cursing allowed here?). I imagine one of the first things Brandon will do once the dust has settled is reorganize the department.

  8. AnnArbor.com helpfully responds to our curiosity about Bill Martin’s current job:
    http://www.annarbor.com/sports/um-football/former-michigan-athletic-director-bill-martin-begins-readjusting-to-life-outside-his-old-office/

    The SEO’d URLs are getting out of control …

  9. Some excellent discussion here. A couple points:
    1. Rasmus, I think your “asleep at the wheel” standard might be a good way for translating the “lack of intstitutional control” NCAA reg. [Assuming the misdeeds "below" are major, which UM has already admitted.] I.e. “while Martin slept” the institution was “out of control.” [I am not asserting this as fact, only to illustrate the procedural/analytical issues here.]
    2. The entire “where is he now, and what is he now” confusion about B Martin’s status is EXACTLY the kind of confusion that UM legal and PR types aimed for, and it has largely succeeded. It would appear he is still an employee, but “only his hairdresser knows for sure.” The UM legal staff knows darn well that B Martin is the Don who ought to come out from behind the curtain.
    3. But it doesn’t matter if he is an employee — ASSUMING that the NCAA and its’process aim for the truth, and seek to carefully avoid any of the conflict of interest involved with “the Vatican investigating a priest” — ie, an institution investigating a valued member. Here’s how they handle it, and it derives from what I would call a “necessary premise” [ie, one with which no reasonable person could quarrel]: that B Martin is a Necessary Witness. Assuming this Necessary Premise about the one Necessary Witness, the NCAA merely needs follow the universally recognized rule of evidence and procedure, by making the following conclusion: If B Martin is still an employee, we deem him to be a Necessary Witness, and because you have failed to produce him, we will construe his absence AGAINST YOU — by looking at every factual and legal issue and, where there is doubt or conflict, we will make our resolutiion and decision looking at the events IN A LIGHT MOST DISFAVORABLE TO YOU. In the law, you can not gain advantage by asserting that “oh, we just didn’t bring that witness”, when that witness is within your control.
    [One final note: there is NO WAY in the world that B Martin can assert, even if he is not an employee now, that he won't go to the August hearing. Some things are just beyond the pale. So it's not an issue.]