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Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Report: Player files went missing after Rodriguez took new job

ESPN.com news services

West Virginia University said Tuesday it will investigate the disappearance of player and football program files found to be missing from the former office of ex-Mountaineers coach Rich Rodriguez.

Paperwork detailing every player on West Virginia's roster, as well as the program's activities over the past seven years, went missing between Rodriguez's resignation as coach to take over at Michigan and the team's return from the Fiesta Bowl, the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette reported.

Mike Brown, agent for Rich Rodriguez, said Tuesday night that many of the claims made by a West Virginia athletic department source in the article are false.

After returning to work about a week ago, the staff at WVU's Puskar Center found that most of the files that had been stored in Rodriguez's office, as well as the players' strength and conditioning files in the weight room, were gone, the Gazette reported.

"It's unbelievable. Everything is gone, like it never existed,'' a source within the athletic department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Gazette. "Good, bad or indifferent, we don't have a record of anything that has happened.''

Brown said that the school wouldn't need Rodriguez's copies of strength and conditioning files.

"The head coach and each assistant coach received hard copies of the strength progress," he said. "So I would think coach [Bill] Stewart and others would have those, too."

According to the source, the missing files include all of the players' personal files, which encompass contact information, scholarship money awarded, class attendance records and personal conduct records, the Gazette reported.

"If a player spoke to a school or did public service, we don't have a record of it,'' the source said, according to the newspaper. "If he broke a rule or missed class, we don't have a record of that, either. We don't have anything. All the good things these kids have done over the years, there's nothing -- not a picture of somebody speaking to a class, nothing. Why would somebody do that?''

Brown refuted that account.

"[Rodriguez] did not keep records for every player and academic records for the players are certainly on file at the school," he said

According to the report, multiple sources said several people in the Puskar Center reported seeing Rodriguez and at least one of his assistants, video coordinator Dusty Rutledge, in Rodriguez's private office shredding paperwork on Dec. 18 -- the day he returned from Ann Arbor after being named Michigan's new head coach. Those who say they witnessed the action said they either paid it no mind or did not know what was being destroyed, according to the report.

Brown said any files that are missing would be personal to Rodriguez.

"It is common knowledge that when a coach leaves a program certain items of a personal nature would always be discarded," he said.

WVU assistant athletic director Mike Fragale, reached by The Associated Press on Tuesday, declined to say what's in the files. He said the athletic department won't have any further comment until its investigation is finished.

West Virginia and Rodriguez are in the midst of a messy legal battle over his departure from Morgantown. The university is trying to recover $4 million from Rodriguez for leaving with six years remaining on his contract. Rodriguez, in turn, said West Virginia breached the contract by not fulfilling all of its terms of the deal.

ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad and The Associated Press contributed to this report.