I’ve that had a little more access to the football team this season.  I’ve made it to my share of press conferences, a few practices (before we were booted) and even on the field & press box for a couple games.   It’s a nice privilege, but while the performance on the field the past several weeks has been beyond tough, watching all this crap go down behind the scenes all season has been brutal.   Blabbering about it on these pages isn’t really a ball either as I’d rather blabber about old ticket stubs and the like.

Nonetheless, a couple thoughts about the Detroit News report that football failed to keep the practice logs that would (help) demonstrate the team’s compliance with NCAA practice regulations:

-> Since U-M’s audit and findings came out well ahead of the Free Press practicegate story, is it safe to assume that a Deepthroat inside either leaked the report or more likely, nudged Rosenberg and crew to dig around on this topic?  Viva la conspiracy!

-> Next, I’m not sure who I’m mad at here.  It bugs me that this was allowed to go on as long as it did.  "All other varsity sports submitted their CARA forms timely,” according to the July 24 letter sent to Rodriguez.  The football program probably has the most complicated record keeping in this regard, right?  Football is the biggest asset in the athletic department and arguably at the school itself, with the most to lose in an investigation, right?

So we hire a new coach and coaching staff to the run program and what, Judy Van Horn and the compliance team didn’t meet with the new staff to review expectations as far as record keeping?   Doubt that.  This recording keeping doesn’t seem to be a lightly regarded task for the coaching staffs.  Each team keeps records and according to Dave Shand, the hockey team can show you their sheets going back to the early 80s:

If you go to Red [Berenson] 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.

Sure, they are just one tool of monitoring compliance but are clearly critical (“Athletics should emphasize to the football program the importance of submitting CARA forms timely to ensure compliance with NCAA limits on athletically related activities.”)

So assuming this was covered with Rodriguez and crew, why didn’t U-M compliance crack down?  The policy according to the memo:

The Compliance Services Office (CSO) requires these forms to be submitted monthly, although some leniency is allowed for teams of significant size.

At the time of the May 2009 review, the football team didn’t submit a single form the 2008 season or the 2009 winter/spring work-outs.  I don’t think “leniency” is means never.  This doesn’t excuse the coaching staff for ignoring the policy and I don’t mean to suggest that they are children.  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 and said, “Hey y’all, this ain’t West Virginia.”  Leaders and best, et cetera, et cetera.

-> I guess I’m also a little bothered that no one mentioned this internal investigation until now.  I’m trying to play in my head how this would have sounded in the days after the Freep story broke, but wouldn’t it have been a better tact to mention of this internal audit (warts and all) back then, instead of having it surface, inevitably, later on?  I think this was mismanaged.  Try this on for size:

We know the rules, we comply with the rules.  Heck, our internal compliance department is probably tougher on us than the NCAA would ever be.  They told us in May that we need to keep tighter reports and we’ve done a better job ever since.  Judy’s tough!”  
                                                    
fake U-M official giving a fake speech in August

-> Tossing this out there, but don’t you wonder if failing to keep records may keep everyone out of hot water?  I guess the worst case, which would trigger a serious violation, is if the NCAA found doctored sheets or logs with forged or coerced signatures from student athletes.  The football staff apparently submitted reports for the spring ‘09 that were very late, and maybe those are suspicious, but a complete lack of documentation from the ‘08 season may require U-M’s internal folks and the NCAA to use the other evidence (interviews of players and coaches?) to determine if any rules were fractured.  Slick.

2 Comments

  1. > Tossing this out there, but don’t you wonder if failing to keep records may keep everyone
    > out of hot water?

    It may but it shouldn’t.

    I sure hope the record keeping is not big enough of a distraction that it covers up some serious crap — stuff which could either bite the University later or creates a culture which lays the foundation for future violations.

    What we’re seeing now is a fundamental lack of leadership from many people; some at the executive level.

    I’ve been around staff at a couple of D-1 schools. When you go through their athletic facilities, there are reminders about NCAA rules EVERYWHERE; for both players and coaches! Whether it’s something as simple as a “compliance tip of the day” on a bulletin board to something more involved like the coaches having to take a test to be certified on NCAA compliance.

    Call it hubris, stupidity, arrogance, stubbornness, whatever. The fact of the matter is every varsity sport did their job. But RR didn’t. The guy getting paid millions didn’t. The guy running the show of the most visible part of the University didn’t. Ugh.

    Shand said that spot checks are unheard of in his experience and if Ms. Van Horn was doing spot checks then there is a trust issue within the athletic department. Given that and the other information which has come to light, it appears the University knew there was a problem but for some reason, may have looked the other way regarding their cash cow which drives the majority of the other sports.

  2. 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? He could at least have provided Rich Rod some cover from the press. He sure knew how to squash the Dave Shand lawsuit.

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