Rich Rodriguez is probably the most hated man in the state of West Virginia since he left for Ann Arbor to be the Michigan coach. Fans have gone over the line many times with vandalism and death threats, sometimes not even directed in Coach Rod’s direction. With that in mind, take what I’m about to discuss with a grain of salt seeing as almost everyone in West Virginia is just looking for a reason to hurl allegations at him.
The most recent allegation is that he “destroyed” or shredded important documents involving the WVU football program. Here is the original report that broke this story, so this will give you the gist of the whole situation.
West Virginia officials are wondering if assistant coaches aren’t all that Rich Rodriguez took with him to Michigan. They believe he may also have destroyed all or most of the paperwork files relating to every player on the current Mountaineer roster and virtually all of the activities conducted by the program over the past seven years.
Soon after returning to work after the Fiesta Bowl a little more than a week ago, the staff at the Puskar Center found that most of the files — including all of the player files — that had been stored in Rodriguez’s private office were missing. In addition, all of the players’ strength and conditioning files in the weight room were gone.
“It’s unbelievable. Everything is gone, like it never existed,’’ said a source within the athletic department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Good, bad or indifferent, we don’t have a record of anything that has happened.’’
According to the source, the files in Rodriguez’s office that are now missing included everything from records regarding summer camps — financial and otherwise — to data on boosters, recruiting and most everything related to activities within the program during Rodriguez’s seven years at WVU.
Most disturbing, though, is the absence of all of the players’ personal files, which included, among other things, contact information, scholarship money awarded, class attendance records and records on personal conduct and community service, be it positive or negative.
Let me say this first: Any time unnamed sources contribute to allegations like this, you really do have to wait to see what happens. Unnamed sources usually are the ones responsible for spreading lies to make a person look bad in the press, as Jim Carty pointed out yesterday. I will add that this whole story very well could be 100% accurate, but for now, I’m not going to trust an unnamed source that much.
I don’t have any idea how this most recent development affects West Virginia’s lawsuit asking for $4 million from Rich Rodriguez, and I don’t know what the legal ramifications are if Coach Rod did indeed spend a day in his office doing nothing but shredding papers. I’ll leave that stuff for the lawyers, but will say that this story just simply doesn’t make sense. It isn’t unusual for a person in a high-profile job to get rid of their own documents when leaving one company or football team for another. That does make sense. You want to keep your personal files just that – personal. What I don’t get, though, is that Rodriguez allegedly destroyed things that wouldn’t be personal at all. Stuff like academic records or scholarship information have no reason to be kept hidden, so why would Rodriguez go to such great lengths to get rid of anything?
I’m sure this will all play out eventually, but until it does the whole situation stinks. I am heavily biased in this whole issue obviously, but if it turns out Rodriguez did destroy information that shouldn’t have (stuff that wasn’t personal), then he will have to deal with the consequences. Again, if true, he had no right to do that. On the flip side, if the documents he shredded were just personal, then this story should be over with. He has every right to get rid of anything personal because that’s his property.
Like I said already, I have no idea how all the legal stuff is affected by this most recent story, but I will say that I wish all of this crap would be put to rest already. I know I can’t really be put in Rodriguez’s shoes as I’m not the one with $4 million on the line, but I just want the buyout to be taken care of so this whole situation would end. I have no doubt that if a check had been written to WVU for $4 million already, then this story about the missing files wouldn’t have come out. I see it personally as ammo for their lawsuit, but I guess the investigators will have to determine that.
(I would also like to point out that this story made it to the front page of ESPN.com pretty quickly, but the whole Reggie Bush scandal that continues to develop daily after a new book came out on it hasn’t been mentioned at all by ESPN. Funny how that works.)