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Alleged violations at WVU sound familiar

8/5/2010

Stop me if you've seen this before.

Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez just wants to start coaching football again, but his name continues to be in the news for the wrong reasons.

Rodriguez's former employer, West Virginia, announced today that it has received a notice of allegations from the NCAA detailing five potential major rule violations from 2005-09. The time period includes Rodriguez's final three seasons at West Virginia and the first two under current coach Bill Stewart.

You can check out the allegations, but trust me, it'll sound familiar.

  • Improper involvement by "non-coaching staff members" -- grad assistants, quality control assistants, student managers -- in activities with players during the spring and summer.

  • Improper involvement by non-coaching staff members in video review with players during the season, and meetings with the coaching staff that they weren't allowed to attend.

  • Improper advice on techniques and plays provided by non-coaching staff to players from 2007-10.

Most important, the NCAA alleges that Rodriguez "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failed to adequately monitor the duties and activities of the graduate assistant coaches and the noncoaching sport-specific staff members." That's exactly what the NCAA wrote in its notice of allegations to Michigan in February.

So this is basically the same situation as Rodriguez is facing at Michigan (Rodriguez, by the way, will appear before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions on Aug. 13-14 in Seattle). The only big difference is that Stewart also is alleged to have failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

Here's more on the situation from my colleague Brian Bennett.

Remember what Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said in May, when Michigan responded to the NCAA's allegations and strongly defended Rodriguez?

"Rich has a history of following the rules."

The NCAA seems to be disputing that history. It's hard to imagine the NCAA investigating West Virginia if things hadn't first surfaced at Michigan.

Like I've said from the beginning, these allegations aren't in the same league as paying players, academic fraud or certainly the recent problems involving agents and players. Michigan shouldn't be punished like USC.

But if the NCAA sees a pattern of non-compliant behavior under Rodriguez, it could come down hard on the Maize and Blue.