What they're saying about UM's response

May, 25, 2010
5/25/10
9:30
AM ET
Both Michigan and head coach Rich Rodriguez have issued extensive responses -- 168 pages in total -- to the NCAA admitting that the football program committed major violations for the first time in its history. Michigan has self-imposed penalties, namely loss of practice time and loss of quality control coaches, and will learn its ultimate fate Aug. 13-14 in Seattle as officials appear before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions.

Rodriguez and athletic director Dave Brandon will address reporters today at 11 a.m. ET, but some quotes and statements are already out about the violations and where Michigan goes from here.

The university's official news release includes several statements:
Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman: "As we have said all along, we take full responsibility for knowing and following NCAA rules, and we will address concerns, quickly and head on. We believe the sanctions we have imposed fit the nature of the violations."

Brandon: "We have made every effort to be as transparent as possible -- to do this in the light of day. We've made some mistakes as a program -- we know that. We also have learned from this experience, we’ve made some necessary improvements, and now we are eager to move forward."

Brandon also did interviews with select news outlets Monday night, including The Detroit News and annarbor.com. Here's a sampling of what he had to say:

  • "Probation is certainly not a fun thing, but we believe it is appropriate. We believe it's the right medicine, the right penalty. We did not get any advice or any direction that led us to believe [scholarship losses] was a necessary kind of punishment. We clearly did not break any rules that created an unfair competitive advantage. We did not get involved in anything like academic fraud or gambling that would have warranted that type of punishment."
  • "We've been very public and very open over the fact that we do not believe, based on the circumstances that are before us, that it would be appropriate to have it impact the employment status of our coach. We've made it real clear that he’s going to be our coach in the fall. We made it real clear that these problems, although unfortunate, don’t rise to the level of triggering termination."
  • "This is a shared responsibility of the athletic department. A lot of people were involved, a lot of mistakes were made, there was a lot of poor communication. This is the result of certain mistakes made in the football program but just as much in the compliance and athletic departments. All at various times failed to act in a manner we felt was appropriate and failed to manage these situations better. They're all equally accountable."
  • "Nobody wants to be investigated, nobody wants to be found guilty of committing infractions, nobody wants to be found guilty as a result of those kinds of activities. So we don't like this, I don't like this. This is an unfortunate outcome for our university and our program. We've worked hard to correct some things and we feel that we’ve appropriately come up with a list of ways to punish ourselves and remedy the fact that we’ve made those mistakes. And I don't know what else we do at that point other than to move on and learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again."
  • "The best outcome would be we go and appear before the infractions committee in August and they believe that we did a responsible job of matching up our penalties and sanctions with things that were uncovered in parts of the investigation, both theirs and ours. And then we move on."
Rodriguez also was talking Monday night, as he addressed reporters after attending the Michigan AP sports editors' meeting.

Here's some of what he had to say:

  • "We’ve got to address everything head on and then let everybody -- at least assure everybody that cares about our program, that cares about the University of Michigan, that everything’s going to be fine. It’s easy to be all in when you’re assured that everything is going to be OK. And I’m trying to tell everybody that everything’s going to be OK. I just got to show it."
  • "Everything was very thorough. And it’s not something that any coach ever wants to go through, trust me on that."
  • "I wish we could have got it done earlier. Get all this stuff behind us so the only conversation with the old ball coach is, ‘OK, who is your quarterback going to be?’ ‘Why’d you run this coverage?’ ‘What kind of scheme are you going to run on defense?’"
Should we refer to RichRod as the Old Ball Coach from now on? Wonder if Steve Spurrier will be offended.

Here's the message I get from Brandon in all this: What happened was unfortunate, and casts a negative light on Michigan. Many people screwed up, so pinning this all on Rodriguez is unfair. In fact, the potential for these problems was there before he arrived. And let's be real honest: this isn't paying players or academic fraud we're talking about. The media grossly exaggerated much of this stuff. We respect the NCAA's investigation, but to penalize us further would be excessive and somewhat hypocritical, given the vagueness of rules around quality control coaches, etc. If you expect me to fire Rodriguez based on these violations, keep waiting. Now if he goes 5-7 again ...

Here's the message I get from Rodriguez: I made some mistakes here, and these violations took place on my watch, which is disappointing. But I'm not the only one who screwed up, as there were communication and monitoring breakdowns elsewhere. I'm not going to downplay the violations, but they aren't capital crimes, as the media might want you to believe. This process was brutal, but it's nearing an end. I'm not going anywhere yet, so let me coach my football team. I know I need to win this season, so let's get on with it.

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