Michigan Gets Third Year of Probation, Rich Rodriguez Avoids Major Penalty

Coach Rich Rodriguez was cleared of major infractions at the University of Michigan, with his football team handed a third year of probation by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Rodriguez, who initially was accused by the NCAA of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance, was found only to have failed to monitor the program, the college sports governing body said in a public report. He is required to attend a rules seminar next year.

Paul Dee, chairman of the NCAA’s Committee on Infraction, said the group reviewed the facts and decided to change the initial charge against Rodriguez, 47, who is 13-19 without a bowl appearance in 2½ seasons at Michigan.

“The coach is ultimately responsible, but that doesn’t mean that the coach was involved in all of the activities that occurred,” Dee said on a conference call. “Consequently, some of the things that did occur did not get all the way to the coach, but ultimately the coach bears the responsibility for the program.”

The Ann Arbor-based school had imposed on itself a two-year probation and reduction of practice time by 130 hours following an NCAA investigation into excessive practices and over-involvement by staff members.

The NCAA said today that it was adding a third year to the probation, which will end Nov. 3, 2013, based on the violations.

“I’m glad the process is over so it no longer can be used as a thing that is hanging over the program from a negative recruiting standpoint,” Rodriguez said at a news conference. “We fought for the things that we thought we should fight for. We agreed to mistakes that were made. We fixed the mistakes in a hurry and now it’s over.”

Practice Time

The Wolverines exceeded practice limits by about 65 hours between the time Rodriguez joined the Big Ten Conference school in January 2008 through September 2009 by having football staff members monitor voluntary workouts, the NCAA said.

Five Wolverines quality-control staff members were ruled to be acting as coaches, exceeding the number of coaches allowed by NCAA rules.

Michigan began an investigation of its own program in August 2009 after the Detroit Free Press cited anonymous Wolverines players who said their in-season and out-of- season workouts exceeded NCAA time limits.

The NCAA confirmed its own investigation in October 2009. Another inquiry at West Virginia University, where Rodriguez coached from 2001 to 2007, also was undertaken.

“None of the information with regard to that case was made available,” Dee said.

School Punishment

Michigan released the NCAA Notice of Allegations in February that cited five infractions by the school.

The school agreed with four allegations and in May announced self-imposed penalties that included two years of probation and reduced practice time. At an August hearing, it challenged the remaining allegation -- that Rodriguez failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The Wolverines are 5-3 this season and 1-3 in Big Ten play after dropping their last three games. They play Illinois this weekend.

Rodriguez, who according to the Associated Press is being paid $2.5 million annually over a six-year contract, agreed in July 2008 to pay West Virginia a $4 million buyout after breaking his agreement there. Michigan said it would provide Rodriguez with $2.5 million to make the first payment and he would pay the remaining $1.5 million.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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