Tuesday, February 23, 2010

NCAA allegations: What's going to happen?

So in my last post, I mentioned something I wrote a while back about possible consequences that was probably out of date now. It's not, and in fact, it's particularly relevant.

Given the reports we've recently heard--that Michigan's compliance department didn't obtain the CARA forms from Rodriguez but eventually filed their own audit in response--it seems that Michigan is almost certainly guilty of a failure to monitor. It would be pretty difficult, given the outline above to make a case that Michigan didn't have institutional control and were repeatedly unaware of what was going on. Though the lack of CARA forms extended to over a year, the University audit may play as a significant factor into the NCAA's judgment.

Plainly put, however, this is an NCAA violation. Whether it was, as MGoBlog suggested, Rodriguez telling someone in the compliance department to to buzz off or the compliance department simply not doing its job, one way or another Michigan will be reprimanded for this. If there are no other violations found, the fact that Michigan filed an internal audit on the situation prior to the Free Press report, Michigan will probably get a public reprimand and be asked for records on a fairly consistent basis for the next few years--in the various NCAA official documents, it's "public reprimand and censure". It would be difficult for the NCAA, unless they were on a serious crusade, to make anything more than a failure to monitor out of the current situation.

So that was pretty on point. It seemed obvious from what we knew, that there was going to be the failure to monitor charge. The other things that came up are the quality control members that were coaching various players during the offseason and now, a GA that decided it was a good idea to lie to the NCAA committee.

In that post, though, I had discussed a 2005 case against Florida International that, now, looks exactly like the one Michigan is facing. The allegations, word-for-word from the NCAA report, include: Impermissible skill instruction, impermissible out-of-season athletically related activities, unethical conduct, and countable athletically related activities outside the playing season. These are basically spot on with what Michigan is currently being charged with, including the unethical conduct allegation. Alex Herron, there were others who made your grave mistake:

On July 23, 2004, at the conclusion of the former assistant coach's initial interview with the NCAA enforcement staff, the former assistant coach was admonished to keep the interview confidential. The former assistant coach acknowledged and agreed not to discuss the content of the interview. Approximately three hours after his July 23 interview, he was interviewed a second time by the enforcement staff and institution. During the course of the second interview, the enforcement staff specifically asked the former assistant coach whether he had any conversations with any student-athletes after his first interview. The former assistant coach responded that he had not spoken to any student-athletes after his first interview. However, it was discovered that shortly after his first interview, the former assistant coach placed a cellular call to a football student-athlete (henceforth, "the student-athlete").

For this, he was promptly fired. Obviously, this is not exactly what Herron did, but it's the same idea: lie to the NCAA committee and get your name engraved in a major violations case. Anyone who knows Alex Herron should say goodbye now. He'll be working a tollbooth in Alaska next month. The rest of the details of the case are similar to Michigan's. Coaches are coaching when they shouldn't, exceeding practice limits,  etc.

So now, what everyone wants to know, What happened? Well, "For the reasons set forth in Parts I and II of this report, the Committee on Infractions finds that this case involved major violations of NCAA legislation associated with an assistant coach knowingly violating rules regarding athletically related activities and an associated failure to monitor." So that settles it, no? Michigan is almost certainly going to be punished for major violations. That's the bad news.

The good news? The sanctions aren't really all that damning. Florida International self-imposed several sanctions, none of which were all that painful (paraphrased):

1. Fired the coach that lied to the NCAA committee
2. Reduced the amount of coaches allowed for the next season by one. The one that was removed was the coach doing improper training who, in the Michigan case, were quality control folk. This might be a problem for the new linebacker coach we just hired, but no one else really.
3. Lost four fall camp practices
4. For every hour of impremissable practice, the team sacrificed two hours of mandatory practice/conditioning.
5. Reduction of one coach in off-campus recruiting visits
6. A few penalties against the AD that won't apply to the Michigan case because of Brandon coming in and tidying up
7. Loss of money, written reprimand, loss of bonuses, and having to attend meetings and other meaningless things imposed on the coach.
8. #7 only for S&C coaches and assistants.

The NCAA saw these regulations and raised them a few:

1. Public reprimand (oh noes, don't Freep us!)
2. Three years probation, during which time there's lots of reporting of compliance
3. Letter from the NCAA to the fired coaching stating that if he looked for a job at all affiliated with the NCAA during the years of probation, that institution would have to appear before the infractions committee.
4. A letter from the President at the end of the probationary period outlining all practices and making sure they're up to the NCAA's standards.

So that's that. Things like a loss of scholarships or a postseason ban seem almost completely out of the question here, as does a possible television ban. Florida International saw nothing that aggressive and I'd assume too, with a larger university and far more public athletic program, Michigan will probably skate a little easier than this. These are major violations, but that does not mean the penalties associated with said violations are significant in the long term.


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