His blog is long defunct but a hat tip to ny1995, who did the legwork in the NCAA infractions database and unearthed these cases. Burgeoning Wolverine Star also highlighted the FIU case I'm about to and has a take on the similarities between the two cases.
UPDATE: I asked Compliance Guy to sanity-check this and have added his comments in below.
The accusations the NCAA has levied against Michigan are not unprecedented, so a look at a couple similar cases over the past decade might prove illuminating. But first, here's an example of what qualifies as a "major violation" these days. One of the things San Diego State got nailed for:
During the 1998-99 through 2001-02 academic years, the assistant coach provided impermissible apparel to the student-athletes who played the position of offensive line. Specifically, at the commencement of training camp each year, the assistant coach distributed “flexi-fit” hats embroidered with the offensive line’s theme for the particular year. Themes have included “Big Block Boys,” “O-Line Finish the Block” and “Trench Warriors.” Further, at the conclusion of the 2002 spring practices, the assistant coach distributed shirts embroidered with the phrase “Tuff 15” to only those members of the offensive line who attended all 15-spring practice sessions. The fair market value of the shirts was approximately $35 and the hats, approximately $25.
The following section explains the committee's rationale for deeming TRENCH WARRIOR hats a major violation:
The enforcement staff and the institution agreed that the apparel items were provided with no intent to violate a rule and provided little, if any, competitive advantage. However, the violations occurred over a period of four years, was not isolated or inadvertent and thus could not be considered a secondary violation.
Takeaways: the chance that Michigan does not get hit with a major violation in August is zero. The QC stuff isn't going to be deemed "isolated or inadvertent." But "major" has clearly ceased to mean much aside from providing big scary headlines.
Compliance Guy: The term "major violation" has this big scary connotation. In fact, the default for a violation is major. It's up to the university to prove that it met the two criteria to be classified secondary:
- Isolated or inadvertant; and
- Did not provide a significant competitive advantage or provide a significant benefit.
Being a major violation means you start with a set of presumed penalties that are then argued up or down (usually down overall, the list is extensive) based on the facts of the individual case. In the past, most secondary violations did not have prescribed penalties so you had much more flexibility if the violation was secondary. Now there are prescribed penalties for most secondary violations as well.
At this point the biggest difference between a major violation and a secondary violation is public reprimand and censure. If you have a secondary violation, the NCAA doesn't announce it, and it's stored in a private database without the school's name attached. A major violation is announced and stored in a public database with the school's name front and center.
IMHO, the NCAA ought to either find a bigger distinction or do away with the distinction all together. In fact, there's actually three types of violations: Level I secondary violations (so small they are only reported to the conference); Level II secondary violations (reported to the NCAA and involve student-athlete eligibility or rules the NCAA is focused on); and major violations. I say expand the Level I list a bit and just have two types of violations: Level I and Level II, where Level II might include an infractions hearings and major penalties.
What They Did
1. An assistant coach—we'll call him Captain Dumbass—conducted "skill and technique workouts" with offensive linemen during the summer over the course of three years. 30 impermissible workouts over three years gave them a "competitive advantage."
2. Over the same timespan, Captain Dumbass conducted "impermissible technique activity" in the same fashion as the summer sessions, for another 27 impermissible workouts.
3. Captain Dumbass then lied to the NCAA and attempted to call another student athlete, disclosing the content of his interview and telling the kid to lie to the NCAA as well. He did, then he recanted.
4. Failure to monitor. "The football coaching staff, including the head coach, and members of the S&C staff were aware in varying degrees" of the sessions. The administration was not. "The majority of the coaches" were aware the sessions were not kosher, but not one said anything. Note this failure to monitor was directed at the university only.
5. A secondary violation because the S&C coach took attendance at voluntary S&C activities and periodically reported the information to other coaches.
What They Did To Themselves
They fired Captain Dumbass and eliminated the OL coach position for the entire 2004 season and 2005 spring practice. They reduced preseason practices by four, and gave up 171 hours (twice the number of impermissible hours logged by the offensive line) of mandatory practice or conditioning over the course of three years.
They also took one assistant coach off the road for the spring evaluation period for two years, put notes in folks' permanent record, and hit people with some pay decreases/finger wagging.
What Got Done To Them
Three years of probation for the university and a three year show-cause penalty for Captain Dumbass.
Compliance Guy: This is probably a good starting point for the penalties Michigan might face. Unlike the SDSU violation, this violation covered just practice violations (aka only Bylaw 17, the playing and practice limits bylaw). Michigan's alleged violations cover Bylaw 17 plus another (Bylaw 11, personnel limits) but the penalty is accounted for here: eliminating a coaching staff position for at least a year.
The COI didn't do anything of substance to FIU. Three years probation is one over the minimum and makes sense considering the violations lasted three years. And the three-year show cause penalty is pretty fair considering Captain Dumbass not only was involved in the majority of the underlying violations AND lied to the NCAA about it, but also tried to get someone else to lie about it too.
San Diego State
What They Did
1. Over the course of three years, the offensive line coach conducted mandatory offseason "deep sand training" for an hour once a week May through July. (What is it with OL coaches?) Captain Dumbass #2 then sold videos of this training as part of a three-video package featuring current student athletes. He also wrote newsletters praising attendance and listing people who had perfect attendance records.
2. Before spring practice one year, several assistant coaches met with players to discuss "academics," but each meeting had diagrammed plays and chalk-talk and whatnot. An assistant coach conducted drills at least eight times for about fifteen minutes. It's unclear if this was Captain Dumbass or not, but someone videotaped one of the drills. Football coaches also had members of the football undergo impermissible 11-on-11 activities, simulating plays with a "taped towel" instead of a football.
In the committee rationale area, there is the implication that the assistant coaches misrepresented the meetings to the NCAA by claiming the students were just so excited about the new plays that they initiated the "chalk talk"; students did not echo this. The head coach acknowledged the activities were "pushing it" and compliance should have been consulted about the workouts.
3. TRENCH WARRIOR hats.
4. Failure to monitor levied at the institution, citing the sand practices being common knowledge with everyone except the institution. The head coach "observed at least seven or eight of these workouts."
What They Did To Themselves
SDSU self-imposed six total years of scholarship penalties: three the first year, two the second, one the third. They eliminated 21 practice days over the course of three years, took one assistant coach off the road for four days, suspended Captain Dumbass, and put notes in the offenders' permanent records.
What Got Done To Them After
Two years of probation.
Compliance Guy: The major difference is that the Trench Warrior hats are an extra benefit in addition to a practice violation. Giving material items as prizes for performance is not allowed, even though giving them to the whole team might be OK. They're a practice violation as well because you cannot punish or reward student-athletes for voluntary workouts.
Also notice the COI did even less than they did to FIU. Two years probation is the minimum imposed in a major violation case. There will always be a penalty of two years probation, so this is basically rubber-stamping the penalties. Why this is two years probation and not three is a big confusing, but probation doesn't mean much competitively. It means more work for the compliance office. It doesn't even mean a longer period of repeat violator status, which is always five years no matter how long the probation is.
The extra benefit piece is a big deal because it explains the scholarship penalties. Penalties have to match the violations. If you violation recruiting rules, you get recruiting restrictions, if you violation practice rules, you get less practice, and if you give student-athletes too much financial aid or extra benefits, you reduce your financial aid.
Based on the difference between these two cases, I would say reduced scholarships are still on the table, but are most likely to be self-imposed. Michigan might give up scholarships if they believe scholarships are worth less than practice and they can reduce the practice penalties somewhat by giving up something else
Michigan Versus Those Guys
Notice of Allegations
Unfortunately, it's tough to tell exactly what bits of the previous cases caused the punishments levied. FIU's two-for-one hours penalty is pretty obvious, but what exactly was so much worse about the SDSU case that saw them dump six years of scholarships when FIU didn't have to ditch any? Both violations took place over three years. And involved an actual assistant coach. The head coaches knew in both cases. Captain Dumbass #1 seriously pissed off the NCAA, as did #2. I don't get the discrepancy.
Anyway, some guesses:
Braithwaite's hire implies that Michigan might lose a coach for some period of time. Michigan turned around the notice of allegations instantly and Brandon said there wasn't anything in there that was a surprise, so Michigan knew full well what the investigation would show. Here's betting one of the self-imposed penalties is removing a coach for spring and possibly fall, and Braithwaite will be that guy.
(Compliance Guy: Oddly enough, Braithwaite might end up doing what the QC guys were supposed to be doing.)
Michigan will probably give two for one on the practice overages. They come to 66 hours, so Michigan will probably try to spread 132 hours over a few years.
(Compliance Guy: That penalty can take many forms: a later fall start date, additional off days, a shorter spring, or fewer hours per week (or a combination of any or all of these).
Could Rodriguez's "failure to monitor" actually be a good thing? My research over the past couple days indicates that failure to monitor is a charge that the NCAA levies against programs when they believe people who should be in a position to know these things didn't know these things. In the cases above both head coaches knew there were shenanigans going on, so they did not get a failure to monitor charge. Only the universities did.
In Michigan's case, both coach and university got charged with failure to monitor. On the surface this is one of the FIVE MAJOR VIOLATIONS. Underneath, it actually seems like a mitigating factor. Having people violate NCAA regulations without your knowledge seems better being aware of it.
This may be a straw I'm grasping at.
(Compliance Guy: Rodriguez is not charged with "failure to monitor." Rodriguez is charged with "failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance." It's basically a catchall that includes something like "failure to monitor" and "lack of institutional control" on a program level. Basically its to make head coaches take responsibility for their program, whether they knew about something and ignored it, failed to control the assistants at all, or ordered assistants to commit violations (how John Calipari has escaped this is beyond me).
It's not a mitigating factor and it's not a "good thing." But it's not necessarily going to be a very bad thing. If it is a very bad thing, it might mean some penalty directed personally at Rodriguez, like prohibiting him from recruiting off-campus for a period of time. Michigan might attempt to head this off by self-imposing internal penalties like establishing meetings between Rodriguez and the compliance office, suspending him, or withholding pay, raises, or bonuses.)
Alex Herron lying probably doesn't matter. If FIU had its coach tell a kid to lie and get caught for it and didn't get scholarship reductions, having one GA get caught being deceitful reflects on the GA, not Michigan.
(Compliance Guy: Agreed. He'll get hit with a show-cause penalty, unlike the two similar noncoaching staff members in the Central Florida recruiting violation who were not hit with show-cause penalties because they were so forthcoming.)
Scholarship reductions don't seem assured. FIU conducted 57 actual practices supervised by an assistant coach that the head coach knew about and didn't get much more than the practice reductions. However, since Michigan is capped at 84 this year due to some foul-ups with walk-ons I'm betting Michigan takes a small hit for 2010 only since taking that hit has zero impact.
(Compliance Guy: Agreed. It's possible that Michigan will just get coaching staff and practice penalties. But the goal of penalties is to erase a competitive advantage, and Michigan might add in a seemingly unrelated penalty to avoid an even bigger practice reduction, or the COI might deem it appropriate to impose the scholarship limitations to erase that competitive advantage (less likely).)
Whatever Michigan self-imposes is probably going to be the end of it. In both cases above, the NCAA looked at the penalties, said "okay," and tacked on some probation.
The above scenario is a worst case. I'm not sure how much credence to put into the rumors flying around that once the full report comes out Michigan will have seriously mitigated many of the charges—that's a classic example of something you want to believe—but they are out there and I've heard from a couple good sources that the details here will be less than damning. We'll have to wait for the Michigan response and self-imposed penalties to find out.
Again, tons of thanks to Compliance Guy for the clarity. His blog is The Bylaw Blog.