There’s been a lot of attention on my post of James Militzer’s article in the Ann Arbor Observer, revealing that U-M agreed cover up to $2.5M of the West Virginia buy-out.
Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg sharply criticized Rodriguez for his handling of the buy-out. He wrote to correct me on his position regarding the University’s involvement in the lawsuit and to reconfirm where all this puts Rodriguez in his opinion:
Just to clarify: I never suggested that Rodriguez fought the buyout without the consent of U-M officials. In fact, I wrote that Bill Martin never had the guts to stand up and end this — he absolutely consented. So did Coleman. That was part of the problem. But I have zero doubts that a) Rodriguez and his lawyers were determined to lower the buyout, as they and Bill have said on multiple occasions, and b) Coleman stepped in when it was going to personally embarrass her. That last bit is based on well-placed sources within the university.
I’m reading your last two sentences now: “Maybe that means Rich Rod was foolish and stubborn as a few writers have suggested. Given that Rodriguez’s exposure was limited, doesn’t this lend credence to RR’s side of the story – that he truly felt he was wronged by WVU and wanted to fight it?” I agree that he felt he was truly wronged — because he was foolish and stubborn. He was not wronged, and he and U-M should have paid the buyout earlier.
Militzer also wrote to me and offered the following and questions how U-M handled this:
….I’m far from convinced that the U-M was just an innocent bystander. I think it’s extremely likely, given the quality of the U-M’s legal minds, that they knew Rodriguez wasn’t going to win his case. But I imagine they also saw no initial downside to just letting the drama play out. If Flaherty is right and they had committed to paying a percentage of the buyout, why not just wait and see if WVU was willing to settle for less? After all, that’s what had happened with Beilein.
In my opinion, if the U-M had wanted to be truly ethical, they should’ve been open about their agreement with Rodriguez from the start, paid their portion of what he owed WVU, and settled the matter in December. If they’d wanted to be semi-ethical, they should’ve paid up when it became apparent that Rodriguez’s legal team was going to try to provoke a settlement by embarrassing WVU. Instead, the U-M only stepped up when it looked like their own bigwigs were going to be dragged into the mud. All in all, not what I would’ve expected from a university like Michigan.