Wednesday Quick Hits: Kickoff Times for UConn, UMass Games Announced

By · Wednesday, May 26, 2010 · 3:49 PM |  Share | 4 Comments 
  • For the third straight year, Michigan’s season-opener in football will be broadcast nationally and start in the afternoon.  Just like the Utah game in 2008 and the Western Michigan game a year ago, the UConn game on September 4 will start at 3:30 p.m. and be shown on ABC/ESPN2 (depending on where you live).  Also, it was announced that the UMass game on September 18 will start at noon and be shown on the Big Ten Network.  So far the game times/TV details have been announced for five games.  The other game times will be determined either six or twelve days prior to kickoff.
  • Brian of mgoblog went through the documents included in Michigan’s response to the NCAA and determined that Brad Labadie and Scott Draper should be canned over how incompetent they were in handling the CARA forms.  It’s truly amazing to read through the different e-mails and see just how poorly this was handled.  If I were Rich Rodriguez, I would demand both to be fired right now, because this situation was made a lot worse over how mishandled it was by Labadie and Draper.
  • Jonathan Chait took the Free Press to task for how inaccurate their “investigation” was.
  • Michigan’s game against Kansas at Crisler Arena has been scheduled for January 9, the Sunday after the winter semester starts.  Also, the Utah game is set for December 10, meaning it will be played the night before The Big Chill at the Big House.
  • Ashton Kutcher had to wear a Michigan Wolverines shirt for some movie he’s in, and based on this picture I’d say he’s not a fan.

Michigan Announces Self-Imposed Sanctions

By · Tuesday, May 25, 2010 · 12:30 PM |  Share | 1 Comment 

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.

Monday Quick Hits: Michigan Softball Advances to Super Regional

By · Monday, May 24, 2010 · 2:20 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • The Michigan softball team rolled through its regional, beating Wright State once and Notre Dame twice in dominating fashion over the weekend.  Michigan will now host Tennessee, the No. 15 seed in the tournament, in a super regional in Ann Arbor.  Thursday’s game starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN.  Friday’s first game starts at 4:30 p.m. on ESPNU.  The second game, if necessary, will also be shown on ESPNU.
  • Michigan’s response to the NCAA over practicegate was expected to be submitted today.  We should hear about the details of the response on Tuesday.
  • Although Michigan and Notre Dame announced a 20-year extension of their rivalry a few years ago, there is no contract making it official.  Dave Brandon wants to make it official at some point, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a game played every single year.  Remember, the rivalry is taking two years off in the future, and honestly, that is something I’d like to see more often.  If the Notre Dame game is going to prevent Michigan from playing in big-time home and home series, then I’d rather play ND every other year or for two years and then take a two year break.  That would give Michigan more flexibility with its schedule and allow for matchups with the big-time programs in college football like Ohio State has been doing.
  • Tate Forcier is excited to play against San Diego State in 2011 because he feels they didn’t show him much love when he was being recruited in high school.
  • Soony Saad, an incoming freshman for Michigan, received the honor of being named Gatorade’s National Soccer Player of the Year.
  • That Big Ten expansion rumor from a couple weeks ago was complete BS, as confirmed by Jim Delany.  Delany also said that the Big Ten is going to stick to its timetable, meaning we shouldn’t expect a sudden expansion announcement to happen this summer.
  • Lloyd Carr’s opinion on Big Ten expansion is that “it’s inevitable.”
  • In addition to some of Braylon Edwards’ former teammates at Michigan, Mark Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, Santonio Holmes, Donte’ Stallworth, and Kerry Rhodes also are scheduled to participate in his charity basketball game at Crisler Arena next month.  Tickets are now available.
  • WolverineHistorian uploaded a video of the trophy presentation after Michigan won the Big Ten title in 2003.  As you’ll see in the video, Chris Perry was happy, to say the least.

Tuesday Quick Hits: Michigan to Submit Response to Allegations Next Week

By · Tuesday, May 18, 2010 · 5:48 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Michigan’s response to the NCAA’s allegations of rules violations (try saying that three times fast) will be submitted next Monday and made public on Tuesday, May 25.  The response will include self-imposed sanctions, which Michigan hopes will satisfy the NCAA Committee on Infractions, who Michigan has to meet with in August.  During that meeting the committee will determine whether more sanctions are needed or if the self-imposed ones are good enough.
  • Rich Rodriguez and company won’t find out Demar Dorsey’s status (if he qualifies or not) for another few weeks.
  • Michigan’s only serious injury during spring practice was when Will Heininger tore his ACL.
  • The Griese/Hutchinson/Woodson Champions for Children’s Hearts Weekend raised more than $1 million for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
  • MVictors has a recap of the Swing to Cure Diabetes Event.
  • The Michigan basketball team could travel to Europe in late August for some games.

Thursday Quick Hits: Tate Forcier Has a Sprained Ankle

By · Thursday, April 15, 2010 · 3:02 AM |  Share | 1 Comment 

Saturday Quick Hits: Michigan to Play FAU in 2012?

By · Saturday, February 27, 2010 · 7:22 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Michigan and Florida Atlantic are reportedly close to agreeing to a deal that would bring the Owls to the Big House in 2012.  FAU played at Michigan State last season and will play at Spartan Stadium again in 2011.  This year FAU will play MSU at Ford Field, which is where the Owls played in 2008 for the Motor City Bowl.
  • Brian of mgoblog interviewed the author of Bylaw Blog about the allegations against Michigan.  It is very interesting and provides a look at what sanctions Michigan could be facing.  Also at mgoblog is a look at some past cases that are similar to what Michigan is going through and what sanctions came from them.
  • A user on mgoblog compared the Free Press’ allegations with what the NCAA actually found, and it’s pretty amazing just how off the paper was in so many instances.
  • NFL.com has combine videos of Zoltan Mesko and Brandon Graham.
  • AnnArbor.com has a video of Graham getting ready for the combine with Mike Barwis.
  • Tony Gibson thinks Donovan Warren will have a great career in the NFL.
  • New England Patriots and former Michigan linebacker Pierre Woods is working out in Ann Arbor to stay in shape during the offseason.  Considering how he and Lloyd Carr never seemed to be on the same page during his time at Michigan, it’s good to see him back around the program again.
  • MGoBlue has news aerial photos of Michigan Stadium.
  • Dave Brandon’s last full day at Domino’s included a nice surprise.
  • Goalie Shawn Hunwick, who won his first career collegiate game on Thursday, is the scoreboard operator at Alumni Field (softball).  You learn something new every day.
  • Baseball great Barry Larkin originally came to Michigan to play football for Bo Schembechler.
  • Despite multiple reports to the contrary, Texas’ athletic director claims that the school hasn’t had any talks with the Big Ten.
  • Some information about NCAA Football 11 is out, and it looks like EA Sports is finally going to add some features that have been missing from the game for way too long.  That said, not much of this info is gameplay-related, which is what I’m really looking forward to hearing about.

NCAA Accuses Michigan of Violations

By · Wednesday, February 24, 2010 · 10:59 AM |  Share | 2 Comments 

The NCAA has completed its investigation of the Michigan football program and submitted its findings to the University on Monday.  After sorting through everything, Michigan held a press conference yesterday with Mary Sue Coleman, Dave Brandon, and Rich Rodriguez to share what the NCAA found.  Brandon handled most of the press conference and did a very good job of answering the questions that were asked and presenting the findings in a way that showed Michigan understood the severity of the accusations.  At the same time, Brandon also did a good job of trying to lessen the publicity nightmare of this whole situation by blaming the “mistakes” that were made on communication breakdowns and a poor internal system.  All in all I would say the press conference went about as well as it could given the circumstances.

As for the actual accusations, Michigan released the documents from the NCAA to the public, giving everybody a chance to read through and see for themselves what the football program allegedly did.  ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg already summed up the accusations perfectly, so I will just run down the list and share my analysis on each.

1. Five Michigan quality control staffers regularly engaged in both on-field and off-field coaching activities that are prohibited by NCAA rules. By engaging in these activities, Michigan exceeded the limit on number of coaches who can engage in these activities. Quality control personnel are alleged to have coached players two days a week in offseason workouts, warm-up activities during the season and film study, and they also attended meetings that involved coaching activities.

This is problematic in the sense that Michigan’s coaching staff, according to the NCAA, was five people too big based on what activities the quality control staffers participated in.  My guess is quality control staffers around the country all do similar things and interact with the players like they are coaches, but unfortunately that was against the rules and Michigan got caught.  That is pretty much the general theme to these accusations.

2. Michigan violated NCAA rules by having football staff members “monitor and conduct voluntary summer workouts, conduct impermissible activities outside the playing season, require football student-athletes to participate in summer conditioning activities for disciplinary purposes [missing class], and exceed time limits for countable athletically related activities during and outside the playing season.” This seems to be the most serious charge and the one that sparked the Detroit Free Press report and the investigation. Here are some of the specifics:

  • In two separate offseason periods in both 2008 and 2009, football players were sometimes required to participate in up to 10 hours of athletic activities or weight training/conditioning, which exceeds the limit of eight hours.
  • During the 2008 season, players were sometimes required to participate for up to five hours a day in “countable athletically related activities,” exceeding the maximum of four hours. The staff exceeded the 20-hour-a-week limit by 20 minutes during the week of Oct. 19, 2008.
  • During September 2009, football players were required to participate in four and a half hours of activities per day, exceeding the NCAA limit by 30 minutes. The report identifies four dates in question: Sept. 7, Sept. 14, Sept. 21, Sept. 28.

The accusations involving the offseason seem to be more serious than what took place during the season.  Although Michigan was apparently exceeding the maximum daily hours during the season, it sounds like the 20-hour limit was only exceeded once, and that was by a mere 20 minutes.  In that regard the attitude that Michigan was blowing by the 20-hour limit is not correct.  Michigan’s problem was that it did too much on individual days rather than as a whole each week.

3. Graduate assistant Alex Herron is accused “providing false and misleading information” to both Michigan and the NCAA enforcement staff when asked about the allegations. He denied being present for 7-on-7 passing drills in the summers of 2008 and 2009 when he allegedly conducted the sessions.

All I can say is Herron probably won’t be involved with the Michigan football program going forward (at least I hope he won’t).

4. Because of the first two allegations (detailed above), Rodriguez is alleged to have “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failed to adequately monitor the duties and activities of the quality control staff members, a graduate assistant coach and a student assistant coach, and the time limits for athletically related activities.”

5. Because of the first two allegations, Michigan’s athletics department is alleged to have “failed to adequately monitor its football program to assure compliance.” Compliance staff members became concerned about the duties of the quality control coaches in the winter of 2008 but didn’t gather enough information to determine potential problems. The strength and conditioning staff didn’t calculate time limits for offseason workouts or effectively communicate information to the compliance office. This resulted in the compliance office approving miscalculated activities and failing to follow its own policies for monitoring these activities. Athletics staff also failed to provide the forms showing countable activities to the compliance office.

Internal changes will hopefully eliminate these last two issues going forward.  As Lloyd Carr said in his reaction to the accusations, the internal problems that helped cause these issues can be improved “quickly and easily.”  Hopefully that is the case and these improvements to their internal system will help lessen the blow when it comes to what punishment Michigan will receive from the NCAA.  The way the process will move forward now is Michigan has 90 days to respond to the accusations, and then in August Michigan will have a hearing with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.  Any punishment wouldn’t be dealt until a couple months after the hearing, though it’s possible Michigan could self-impose sanctions before that.

The one thing that people have been making a big deal about is the fact that in the NCAA’s letter to Rich Rodriguez, the accusations were described as “potential major violations of NCAA legislation, unless designated as secondary violations.”  A lot of people have taken that to mean that these are major violations for sure, which is not the case.  Michigan will likely designate all of the accusations as secondary violations because that would be less of a black eye for the program and would likely result in a lesser punishment.  Whether the NCAA will allow them to be designated as secondary violations is beyond me, but I’m hoping they do.  If these all turn out to be secondary violations then the punishment probably wouldn’t be anything more than probation and the loss of some scholarships.  Major violations certainly bring about a worse feeling, but the key in all of this is that the accusations are merely potential major violations.

The other main thing I want to address is the idea that Rich Rodriguez suddenly is on the hot seat even more than he was before.  I can understand why that is the perception considering the situation, but as Adam Rittenberg pointed out, “Rich Rodriguez’s fate ultimately comes down to whether or not he wins games, not what the NCAA decides in August.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  While what happens with the NCAA could make it easier to fire Rodriguez if it comes to that, his job status heading into 2011 will be dependent on what the team does in 2010.  If Michigan puts together a great season that shows this program is headed in the right direction, then a couple NCAA violations, though embarrassing, probably won’t be enough to cost him his job.  At the same time, if Michigan has another bad season, Rodriguez is probably gone regardless of what happens with the NCAA.  The only thing violations will do is let Michigan fire him with cause and therefore not have to pay his buyout.

Side note from all of this: WTF, Morgan Trent?

“I’m not surprised because I know what happened, and I know what kind of rules were broken. I couldn’t see how they were going to get out of that.

“Whatever steps need to be taken (to restore Michigan’s winning tradition), I’m all for it. What is happening right now obviously is not working. I don’t know how long they’re going to let this last until changes are made. This year is going to be the tell-all what’s going to happen. We can’t have three losing years in a row. Not at Michigan. To lose seven of last eight games (in 2009) is an embarrassment.”

Hey Morgan, you know what’s also embarrassing?  Your play as a cornerback for much of your career at Michigan, especially in 2008.  Perhaps you should just keep your mouth shut considering you contributed to one of those losing seasons.

Michigan to Hold News Conference on NCAA Report

By · Tuesday, February 23, 2010 · 12:58 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

A news conference about what the NCAA found as a result of its investigation into the football program is going to begin in a few minutes.  It can be viewed live on the website of WDIV.

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