In the whirlwind of perspectives out there on the Free Press allegations, I thought I’d toss in another.  I reached out to former Michigan hockey player, assistant coach, WTKA morning show co-host and lawyer Dave Shand.   As always, given his resume Shand has something interesting to add, never seems to fit snuggly within any particular profile of Michigan fan and he’s not afraid to talk about it.

We spoke about the Free Press report which he read in detail this weekend:

His initial reaction to Free Press piece:

Shand: “There are certain things that really astonished me in the report; things that I don’t think stunned anybody else. I was shocked that Judy Van Horn was doing spot checks.  Judy is very good and very tough.  But when I was there as an assistant coach, it was a given that coaches were not going to go over the NCAA maximum (of supervised hours).  There were no spot checks.  Spots checks mean you don’t trust your own coach!  And that bothers me because I really like what Rich Rodriguez is doing and I really like the direction of the program.”

On how the hockey program monitored practice time when he coached:

Shand: “I can tell you exactly the way it worked. We had our practices which were mandatory and supervised and they went up to 20 hours per week. If we were in danger of going over 20 hours the captains took over. The captains ran voluntary, unsupervised workouts. If work had to be done, the captains ran them, they were in charge.  If the captains were not happy with a teammate’s commitment to the program, you’re damn right we heard about it.

If you go to Red and ask, he’ll show you his sheets going back to 1984: every workout, every day, how many hours, mandatory and supervised, all complying with NCAA regulations.  It was documented and accounted for.

I saw the statements about the guys that were present, the Quality Control guys.  They’re coaches. How can you be a quality control guy and not know anything about the game? The differentiation is silly.  It’s really not a gray area.”

On his reaction today’s (Monday) press conference:

Shand: “I was stunned by [Rodriguez’s] emotions. I think he is stunned that they don’t just let him coach football.  What he’s doing on and off the field I agree with 100 percent. He’s giving his heart and soul to this program.  He’s a terrific coach and Mike Barwis is a conditioning genius. I think everything they are doing on and off the field will have tremendous rewards.  But everything they are doing beyond 20 hours is illegal under NCAA regulations.

I think Rich Rodriguez wanted to fundamentally change the work ethic of the program. I think Mike Barwis did too. And unfortunately their enthusiasm violates NCAA rules. If it was a 7-5 team, I don’t think they would have pushed them as hard.  There were so many things to fix and so many things that were wrong that I think they went way over the line.”

On what Rodriguez and crew should do now:

Shand:  “I think they’ll rally around Rodriguez and create an ‘us against them’ mentality.  If there’s a Big Ten or NCAA investigation, Rodriguez needs to tell the players to be honest, be forthright, and don’t worry about the repercussions to him or the coaching staff and they’ll get through this.  If they circle the wagons to try to protect each other and lie to the investigators, it’ll be a cancer that will kill the team. I get this feeling that they are trying to spin their way out of this.  If they start trying to cover up and have the kids sign false documents–the cover-up is always worse than the crime.

I disagree with just about all of the NCAA rules. But you know what?  You live with them and do your best. Don’t break them, don’t skirt them. I hope they get that and if they do the right thing from this point on and it will be forgotten quickly and gone in a heart beat.”

On an outlook for the team:

Shand:  “If they stay honest and above-board it’ll be a great rallying point for the team. I predicted a couple weeks ago that they’d go 9-3 and beat Ohio State. I still think they’ll do that if they handle this properly with honestly, openly, with class, with dignity, and with character.  If they do, I think this will be a blessing on more fronts than just the football field.”

3 Comments

  1. If you have a chance to speak with Shand again, a couple of follow up questions. Apologies in advance if they come off as hostile. They really aren’t, but these comments come across as setting up a double standard.

    1) When the hockey captains ran “voluntary, unsupervised workouts” what was the on-the-record as well as off-the-record expectation as to whether all players had to show or not? In other words, what was going to happen to a hockey player that exhibited the attitude of “Well, I have put in my 20 hours this week, I’m outta here” ? Obviously, I am trying to get a better illustration of the difference between “voluntary” and “Mandatory” and how those two terms coexist in the realm of reality versus NCAA regulations.

    2) Shand says “But everything that they are doing beyond 20 hours a week is illegal..” Why is it that Shand assumes that the time for the football program is illegal while everything that hockey program did beyond 20 hours complied with all NCAA rules? Is it not possible that football team leaders were responsible for running workouts (with allowable/appropriate medical/training supervision) beyond those 20 hours? Shand’s statements leave the implication that Red’s paperwork is on the up and up but that Rodriguez’s paperwork would be falsified (even after having been spot check for the last year). The Free Press allegation were about the number of hours spent, not the number of hours with Rodriguez on the field yelling at them, right?

    Thanks

  2. Always interesting to get Shand’s take – thanks for putting this out there. I’d be curious whether spot-checks are standard operating procedure for all new head coaches (at least those not promoted from within).

  3. @traveler
    I’ll respond.

    1. If a player says “I’m outta here”, fine. We put together the lineup Friday morning and run it by the captains. They say Joe Schmoo, no way, he doesn’t play. If the player complains, he is told to go talk to his captains, it was their call and they’ll explain why.

    2. I said “illegal under NCAA rules.” If what the players stated, in direct quotes, is true, it violated NCAA rules. I’m not assuming anything. Anything is possible. But in hockey, Sundays were always off. Friday and Saturdays (game days) count for 3 hours per day. Sunday off. 14 hours for the other 4 days. 2 hours per day on ice. That’s 8 total. leaves 6 hours for off-ice work. An hour and a half per day. Jim Plocki ran it and knew exactly how much time he had. Done. Football players stated that they signed their sheets for 20 hours or 8 off-season but were putting in way more time in supervised, mandatory workouts. We shall see. I hope it is all not true, but they have already lawyered up, not a good sign.

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