a terrible blight on our fine country
A brief statement from Martin and a couple we've already seen. Standard stuff.
Statement from Athletic Director Bill Martin We are committed to following both the letter and the intent of the NCAA rules and we take any allegations of violations seriously. We believe we have been compliant with NCAA rules but nonetheless we have launched a full investigation of the allegations in today’s newspaper. We have already reached out to both the Big Ten and the NCAA and we will have more to say on this as soon as we have completed our assessment.
August 28, 2009
Statements from U-M Football Coach Rich Rodriguez and Associate Athletic Director Judy Van Horn
U-M Head Coach Rich Rodriguez
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.
Associate Athletic Director Judy Van Horn
During the season, the NCAA limits “countable” practice activities to 20 hours per week. There are activities that don’t count, such as rehab and getting taped. We educate our coaching staffs and student-athletes (in all sports) to keep everyone informed of the rules. Also, compliance and administrative staff conduct 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.
They attached a PDF on limits and countable activities that I've reproduced as text below. I've bolded the non-countable activities that Michigan is likely going to cite.
During the regular academic year (Fall and Winter terms), the following guidelines are applicable:
• No more than four hours per day of countable activities;
• No more than 20 hours per week of countable activities when in-season, 8 hours when out of season;
• During the 20 hour/week segments, S/A’s must have one day free from all countable activities.
• During the 8 hour/week periods, S/A’s must have two days free from all countable activities.
• It is not permissible to pay expenses for off-campus conditioning activities that take place outside of the declared playing season.
Outside of the prescribed playing and practice season in sports other than football, only a student-athlete's participation in weight training / conditioning and skill instruction shall be permitted. Additional guidelines include:
• For an out of season team, countable activities must cease one week prior to the start of final exams. In the 2009-10 year, the stop dates are December 8, 2009 for the Fall term and April 14, 2010 for the Winter term. All activities must end on or before these dates.
• From the start of classes in the Fall through September 14, no more than 4 student-athletes at one time may participate in skill instruction sessions as part of the 8 hour week. Beginning September 15, there is no limit on how many student-athletes may engage in such activities at the same time.
In the sport of baseball, there is a second period in which skill instruction is limited to only 4 student-athletes. That period is January 6 (first day of classes in the Winter term) through January 14.
• No more than 2 hours of skill instruction are permitted per week outside the playing season. Such instruction is counted within the 8 hour weekly limitation.
In football, the only required activities that may occur outside the playing season while classes are in session are weight training / conditioning and game film review. Required weight training and conditioning activities may not exceed 8 hours per week and may not occur during weeks designated as discretionary weeks. If coaches also require game film review, the time spent must be deducted from the 8 hours / week of conditioning time and may not exceed 2 hours per week.
Countable Athletically Related Activities. A countable athletically related activity is defined as any required activity with an athletics purpose involving student-athletes and held at the direction of or supervised by one or more members of an institution’s coaching staff (including strength and conditioning coaches). Some examples of countable athletically related activities include:
a. Practice / walk-throughs,
c. Required weight-training and conditioning activities held at the direction of or supervised by an institutional staff member;
d. Participation in a physical-fitness class not listed in the UM’s catalogue and open to all students and
that is conducted by a member of the athletics staff;
e. In sports other than football, participation outside the institution's declared playing season in individual skill-related instructional activities with a member of the coaching staff.
f. Film or videotape reviews of athletics practices or contests required, supervised or monitored by institutional staff members;
g. Required participation in camps, clinics or workshops;
h. Meetings initiated by coaches or other institutional staff members on athletically related matters;
i. Individual workouts required or supervised by a member of the coaching staff except as permitted under the safety exception;
j. On-court or on-field activities called by any member or members of a team and confined primarily to members of that team that are considered as requisite for participation in that sport (e.g., captain's practices);
k. Visiting a competition site in the sports of cross country and golf.
Non-countable Athletically Related Activities. The following are considered non-countable athletically related activities and are not counted in the weekly or daily time limitations:
a. Training-table or competition-related meals;
b. Physical rehabilitation;
c. Dressing, showering or taping;
d. Athletics department academic study hall or tutoring sessions;
e. Meetings with coaches on non-athletics matters;
f. Travel to and from practice and competition;
g. Visiting the competition site in sports other than cross country, golf and skiing;
h. Medical examinations or treatments;
i. Fund-raising activities;
j. Recruiting activities (e.g., serving as a student host for prospective student-athletes during official visits);
k. Public relations activities related to the student-athlete's sport (e.g., media days);
l. Participation in regular physical education classes, with or without credit, that are listed in the institution's catalog and open to all students;
m. Voluntary individual workouts, provided these workouts are not required or supervised by coaching staff members, except that such activities may be monitored for safety purposes or conducted by the institution's strength and conditioning personnel who have department wide duties.
n. Individual consultation with a coaching staff member initiated voluntarily by a student-athlete, provided the coach and the student-athlete do not engage in athletically related activities;
o. The provision of videotapes to a student-athlete by an institution's coach that include a personalized message and athletically related information (e.g., discussion of plays, general workout programs, lectures on strategy related to the sport), provided the viewing of the videotape by the student-athlete is voluntary;
p. Use of an institution's athletics facilities (which may be reserved) during the academic year or summer by student-athletes, provided the activities are not supervised by or held at the direction of any member of an institution's coaching staff.
Mike Schofield (Sr.) emailed me after we spoke, and wanted to post this here. He's posted it at Rivals and Scout, as well. He's signing up for an account here, just hasn't gotten it up yet. So, I'm posting this for him.
As a parent of a Michigan Player/Student I find the story in the Freep nothing but nonsense, misinformation, bush league journalism and an attempt to tarnish the great name of Michigan Football, in short it think it is nothing more than Bullshit.
I have posted here long before this article came…and I give my permission to release any/all my post about Michigan football to the press.
As for the Freep, in a time of despair due to job loss, stock market struggling, gas prices high, job outlooks poor, we can rely on the Detroit Freep to attack America’s winningest College football program, East cost to West coast people love or hate Michigan Football, they are admired and or talked down about but always respected…..This being said, to publish information that is unsubstantiated is a poor/low down attempt to gain readers, viewers on a national level and raise the papers ratings at the expense of a great American football team, outstanding players, coaches and parents….
This news papers article is not only an attack on the program but the parenents and players, these kids are working hard….yes going to summer school, learning and getting acquainted to college life interacting with the community, fellow students in the dorms….
As a parent and as I have posted before, the Michigan Education was the most important thing to us, and during recruiting it was made extremely clear that Education before practice/football/games was the goal, the norm and no exceptions….
During the summer Michael spent more time studying going to class bonding with his freshman players and the other students in his dorm. Michael came home for visits, there were no signs of Barwis Police tracking him down…there were NO NCAA Violations, these kids played basketball, catch, and other sport activities with other college kids at the dorm, they went to visit sick children in the hospital and stopped by a summer camp for special needs kids…..where that in the Freep, that9s right that will not make national news…and is the truth…
I was joking with Michael in June when son Andrew came to a Michigan football camp,(JUNE 20) about Andrew being able to work with coach Frey in camp and learn new techniques and Michael who is going to be a player has not and will not get that chance until his camp starts in August…and this is True….
As I have stated in my posts this organization is all about competition, you compete for a position every day, some people cannot except this, they leave, or make comments, and even people outside the organization do not like this “the best player plays” concept and make up stories or comments. This is how rumors start….
Another thing, a poor reporter knows, when you go into a Media Day, and interview players you single out the freshman…they are 3 months out of High School have limited exposure to the media, so you ask them misleading questions . These kids are excited to be interviewed, and excited to put a positive look on Michigan and self serving reporters can get any kid to say what he wants by asking specific misleading information…
There is no practice prison where players are forced to workout hours a day, there are no coaches in disguises lurking the buildings watching players workout, there are no secrete passage where coaches meet players out of the public view….
In taking on this particular brouhaha, Dr. Saturday mentions perhaps the most relevant bit of context for the Freep article. As he says:
"A survey of Division I athletes last year revealed the reality: Time limits or not, big-time football everywhere is a full-time job that consumes vastly more hours than the NCAA officially sanctions -- and has to be, if the competition is putting in the same work. That players will "voluntarily" go above and beyond the proscribed limits is taken for granted."
Now quoting the linked survey:
"Football players in the NCAA's Division I Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) said they spent an average of 44.8 hours a week on their sport — playing games, practicing, training and in the training room — compared with a little less than 40 hours on academics."
So we should in fact be able to determine exactly how far above and beyond the average Michigan footballers train under Rodriguez. According to the Freep article, Michigan footballers played in excess of the NCAA maximum (20 hours) in the following manner:
"With three hours on Saturday and a full day on Sunday, players tallied about 12 hours on those two days. They were off Monday. Players said they would spend an additional three to four hours with the team on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, bringing the weekly total to 21- 24 hours."
Which brings the absolute total to 20 + 24 = 44 hours per week. And from the USA Today survey, we know the average is ~45 hours per week. While this doesn't exactly settle the question of whether this is right or why Michigan players are going to the press, it's clear the Freep didn't do its job. The proper frame for this is would absolutely be to cite prior investigations, like SEMO and SDSU and, if it existed, a massive survey of D-1A college football players. Clearly, the Freep would have no way of knowing if these things existed.
The major issue is settled. The real questions now are
A) Why are our players going to the media and anonymously at that?
B) Is there a legitimate concern here? Are these kids suffering as a result?
As to the latter question, Dr. Saturday helpfully reminds us of the incentives:
"Coaches follow the letter of the law at the peril of their records and their jobs."
True this. If the NCAA is going to allow the average to be what it is, new coaches with something to prove are obviously, in the very least, going to have to be at that average. Honestly, I'm very surprised that Rodriguez isn't well over the average. This potentially reflects far more on Carr than it does on Rodriguez assuming there really isn't a quality of life issue here. Mr. Hinton makes just that point:
"In that sense, assuming that Carr's staff really were the sticklers they're widely reputed to be (an assumption backed up by the Free Press' reports), the exuberance of their successors is just another case of Rodriguez and Barwis bringing the program into the 21st Century. The fact that they're being singled out may only be because they're doing it at one of the very few places that knows the difference."
As to the former question, the disconnect between what the players were doing and what they must now do to see the field may very well be the difference maker here. If Lloyd truly was running his program differently than anybody in the country toward the end, this kind of reporting would only come out here, about Michigan football. This is perhaps less the Freep's doing (outside of their inability to contextualize anything at all) than fall out from an iconoclast leaving the program.
I'm not too sure what to make of the "allegations". It seems that there were some former players (and I'm not too sure if the current players that were mentioned were just the freshmen that he cut and pasted their quotes) that didn't like the change in culture and want to throw stones.
My take: What it seems to me is that Rodriguez, Barwis walk in last year... see the dumbbells ala jack lalanne circa 19-ought-8... and after picking their jaws off the floor, they say "we have a ton of work to do". So they have their meeting with the players, say "this is how it's going to change", and in their minds they know they will suck, but let's whip these fluffballs into shape for next year. Workouts become hard, reallyyyy hard (comparatively, you know, like actual workouts now), and some don't like this change. Workouts beyond the 8 hours are "voluntary" as everyone winks, but just like every other sport, it's about who wants it bad enough. All they knew from the Carr days was full large pizzas and lifting some weight some times, right? Some shined in these situations, some didn't, got left behind, and now complained to a willing Freep who is more than happy to sensationalize it to end up on the ESPN.com ticker. The Brandon Minors excelled, the Borens didn't in this environment.
Mod Edited Formatting
In my mind, the Freep article left a host of important questions unanswered in its attempt to brand the Michigan football program NCAA rule-breakers.
1. Most obviously, who are these guys? The phrase "current or former" players is vague. How many are currently on the roster? How many left the program early? How many graduated? How many lost playing time under Rodriguez? How many were Carr recruits? All these questions could have been answered without compromising the anonymity of the sources. Why weren't they?
2. Speaking of anonymity, why were the former players allowed the opportunity to speak without attribution? The Freep offered this justification for granting anonymity: “The players and parents agreed to talk only if they were not identified because they said they feared repercussions from the coaching staff.” How does this apply to former players? Were they worried Mike Barwis would come to their houses and pull some MMA moves on them? I used to work for a media watch non-profit, and they liked to call these “spinonymous sources” – individuals granted anonymity on dubious grounds with an obvious interest in pushing one side of the story. A disgruntled transfer who has already cut all ties with Michigan would certainly fit in that category.
3. How many programs have off-season conditioning programs that, if required, would wildly violate the NCAA hour limits? How many of these programs strongly encourage their players to attend, so they can get bigger and stronger and compete for playing time? Would this quote apply to all of them? “‘It was mandatory,’ one player said. ‘They’d tell you it wasn’t, but it really was.’"
4. Why are the quotes from freshmen Je’Ron Stokes and Brandin Hawthorne in the story? Were they misled as to the nature of the story? Did their quotes add anything to the story’s contention that Michigan was requiring players, in violation of NCAA rules, to attend rigorous offseason workouts? With all the Freep’s concern for the anonymity of both current and former players, why would they put true freshmen in the uncomfortable situation of having their quotes used in a way they obviously never intended? The disclaimer that the players were “not complaining” does nothing to change the fact that these student-athletes are now forever publicly associated with a story eviscerating the program they just joined.
However, as NCAA sanctions and the like were mentioned, I began to see a glimmer of hope:
1. All programs do this. As everyone knows, in college (and high school sports, for that matter) off season workouts are not "voluntary", but mandatory if you ever want to see the field.
2. The coaches never strictly declared they were mandatory. Because of this, I'm not sure the NCAA truly can come back and slam the U-M football program. Besides, what are they going to do, take away our 3 wins from last year?
3. Finally, this seems to be another facet of the "wah wah family values" that we've seen develop over the last year and half. Hopefully the NCAA will take this into consideration when reviewing the situation.