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Saturday, August 29, 2009
Updated: August 30, 4:21 PM ET
Report: Players allege rules were broken

ESPN.com news services

DETROIT -- Several Michigan football players claim the program regularly violates NCAA rules limiting how much time they can spend on training and practice sessions, according to a published report.

Players from the 2008 and 2009 teams told the Detroit Free Press for a story published on the newspaper's Web site on Saturday that the amount of time they spend on football activities during the season and in the offseason greatly exceeds the limits. The players spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity because they feared repercussions from coaches.

Rich Rodriguez
Michigan finished 3-9 in Rich Rodriguez's first season as coach.

Coach Rich Rodriguez and the university's compliance director, Judy Van Horn, both denied that the football program was violating NCAA rules.

"We know the practice and offseason rules, and we stay within the guidelines. We follow the rules and have always been completely committed to being compliant with all NCAA rules," Rodriguez said in a written statement to the newspaper.

Van Horn said her department conducts "in-person spot checks of practice during the academic year and summer. We have not had any reason to self-report any violations in this area with any of our sports."

One former player who started for Michigan last season told ESPN Saturday night that the report was accurate.

The player, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions from fans, said in-season Sundays at the football facility lasted from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., including a one-hour lunch. That would be an 11-hour day. The NCAA daily limit is four hours, the weekly limit 20.

The same player said required offseason workouts included three-hour lifts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and two hours of speed and agility on Tuesdays and Thursday. That's a total of 13 hours; the NCAA limit is eight hours of required workouts.

This player said he would tell the Big Ten or NCAA what players were required to do and believes most of his former teammates would, as well.

A current member of the Michigan football team, who has started, also told ESPN his in-season Sundays at the football facility lasted from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., although he acknowledged the first two hours were spent in treatment, which is not counted against the restricted hours.

The player said this season players will be off on Sundays, practicing on Mondays.

The player said he worked out about twice as many hours as the allotted eight per week in the offseason. He asked strength coaches why the workouts seemed excessive and was told that some parts of the exercises, such as core work and injury prevention, were not counted as required.

The player said the strength coach told him that the workout plan had been approved by the NCAA.

Players told the Free Press that quality-control staff often watched seven-on-seven offseason scrimmages that are supposed to be voluntary and that only training staff are allowed to attend.

The Free Press said five of the 10 current or former players it interviewed gave similar accounts of how the program is run and a sixth player confirmed most of the descriptions. Other players gave a general idea of the program. None disputed the allegations, the newspaper said.

The players acknowledged they had signed forms stating NCAA rules had been followed and had not told the university's compliance department about their concerns. One player told the Free Press that athletes would get in trouble if they didn't sign.

If there is an investigation into the allegations, it won't be conducted by the Big Ten.

Big Ten associate commissioner for compliance Chad Hawley told ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg that the conference would only be involved in an advisory capacity for any investigation of this matter. Any investigation would have to be done by Michigan and, depending on the circumstances, the NCAA.

Information from ESPN's Joe Schad and The Associated Press was used in this report.