The University received a notice of allegations last night and held this press conference in response. Tim is currently holding the notice right now and it should be available online soon, but what I gathered from the press conference:
- Michigan checked up on and punished players for missing class in the summer, as suggested earlier.
- QC assistants overstepped their bounds and did some prohibited coaching activities.
- The infamous Sunday workouts from the Free Press article were indeed too long. By 20 minutes. Because it's unclear what exactly counts when it comes to stretching. Similarly, there were instances where Michigan may have been over the 20 hour weekly maximum by about two hours because of similar stretching-related issues.
Your initial take on this is likely to be "WTF where's the beef," and… yeah. 1 and 3 seem incredibly minor items that will draw something even less than a slap on the wrist. Possibly an unpleasant poke. Two, depending on exactly what that entails, could warrant a bonafide slap. Nothing found comes close to the Free Press's WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN reporting, which brazenly suggested that Michigan was exceeding allowable maximums by a factor of more than two.
Free Press: Fail
Let's stew on that: it was immediately apparent to anyone who did a cursory google search on the topic that allowable practice limits are a supremely gray area that every program in the country does an end-around on. This did not appear in the article. This is what the article suggested:
Players spent at least nine hours on football activities on Sundays after games last fall. NCAA rules mandate a daily 4-hour limit. The Wolverines also exceeded the weekly limit of 20 hours, the athletes said.
This was blatantly dishonest at the time and—surprise!—it turns out that Michigan is not blowing through NCAA regulations without care. The infamous Sunday activities were 20 minutes over. Because of confusion about stretching.
First: I don't think this is going to be a big deal. But Brandon did bring up that apparently Michigan is still under probation for the Ed Martin thing because the NCAA case took forever to conclude and since the allegations date back a couple years now that Michigan was technically five months away from getting out from under that. For something that happened 15 years and two athletic directors ago.
Brandon was very clear that the NCAA takes these sorts of things into consideration and it was not likely to be a problematic thing, especially given the nature of the current allegations, but he brought it up. So I'm bringing it up.
Anyone who had any doubts about Dave Brandon's suitability as athletic director, and there were a few, must have dumped them about five minutes into this press conference. Brandon was epic. He gave transparent, honest answers that sound a lot like the fictional Rich Rodriguez who lives only in my (and perhaps your) head. You know, the one that passionately argues the case for Demar Dorsey with unassailable logic.
Brandon's Q&A session was a combination of justified deflection, smooth answers to hard questions, and one totally unambiguous declaration that nothing in the NCAA report would impact Rich Rodriguez's job security. Many people in the liveblog were giving it to Birkett for that question, but isn't it much, much better that it was asked and answered so forcefully? If it's not asked then this news cycle includes a bunch of questions about that. Now there are no questions.
Michigan has 90 days to provide a response and there will be an NCAA hearing in early August. If Michigan chooses to self impose sanctions—which was broached just like that: "if"—it will probably happen after the response and, obviously, before the hearing.
I am not entirely sure whether the allegations rise to the level of major violations but it certainly doesn't sound like it. Scholarship reductions seem exceedingly unlikely. More ASAP.
[UPDATE: Okay. Tim has just provided the documents and they explicitly state that the allegations "are considered to be potential major violations" and that if the institution believes any of them should be classified as secondary they should present that in their response.]