Michigan made its NCAA response public this morning, announcing the specifics of its self-imposed sanctions:
- The quality control staff has shrunk by 40% (five to three), and the remaining three staff members will be prohibited from “attending practices, games and coaches’ meetings for the remainder of 2010.” A new NCAA bylaw actually now gives the quality control staff the ability to attend coaches’ meetings, but as part of its punishment, Michigan will not allow that until 2011.
- Michigan will lose 130 hours of practice and training time over the next two years. Because it was determined that Michigan went over the countable athletically related activities (CARA) limit by 65 hours during 2008 and 2009, Michigan decided to punish itself by doubling that number and reducing practice and training time by 130 hours.
- Michigan will be on probation for two years.
That is really it as far as actual penalties go. Seven staff members will be reprimanded for their “responsibility for these violations occurring over an extended period,” including Rich Rodriguez, Mike Barwis, Scott Draper, and a few people in the compliance office. Alex Herron, the quality control staffer that allegedly misled NCAA investigators, was fired months ago.
In addition, Michigan has “taken corrective measures to prevent these or similar violations from occurring in the future.” For example, a new “fail-safe” method of tracking internal matters has already been introduced in order to prevent any potential violations from happening again.
Another part of the response includes some disagreements Michigan has with what the NCAA found and with what the Free Press reported back in August last year.
• U-M disagrees with the NCAA enforcement staff that Rodriguez failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program. The information gathered during the investigation demonstrates that Rodriguez has been committed to both compliance with NCAA bylaws and with the academic success of his student-athletes during his time at the university. Rodriguez has been responsive to direct requests from the compliance and academic support staffs.
• U-M found no evidence of student-athlete abuse, nor any evidence that its employees disregarded student-athlete welfare. This is in stark contrast to early media reports.• While U-M could be considered a repeat violator as a result of a May 8, 2003, men’s basketball case, the institution does not believe it is warranted in this instance.
Michigan obviously admits that violations occurred and is punishing itself for those violations. However, Michigan also feels pretty strongly about how much the Free Press misrepresented what actually happened.
“The University is satisfied that the initial media reports are greatly exaggerated if not flatly incorrect.”
While the Free Press’ investigation was already determined to be very inaccurate and completely off base in some instances, it’s interesting that Michigan commented about it. They didn’t specifically call out the Free Press, but it’s obvious that’s who they were talking about in the quote above.
Anyways, going back to the self-imposed sanctions, the early returns are that Michigan “slapped itself on the wrist.” The sanctions announced are basically what I was expecting, although I was a bit surprised that there were no scholarship reductions. I felt that it was possible Michigan could lose an assistant coach spot for a year or two, but it lost a couple quality control staffers instead.
All in all, these sanctions aren’t too bad. Losing 130 hours of practice time over the next two years stinks, but that’s much better than some of the alternatives to deal with the violations, such as losing numerous scholarships or being banned from the postseason or whatever.
Michigan’s hearing with the NCAA Committee on Infractions is set for August 13-14. The Committee on Infractions will then later determine if the self-imposed sanctions are enough or if additional sanctions are needed. Michigan put their response together with the hope that their self-imposed sanctions would satisfy the NCAA Committee on Infractions, so let’s hope that ends up happening. The last thing Michigan needs to worry about now is having the NCAA add to the list of infractions or worse, having the self-imposed sanctions thrown out altogether because they’re too light.
You can find all of the documents included as part of Michigan’s response to the NCAA here.