Presser Instant Recap

Submitted by Brian on February 23rd, 2010 at 2:03 PM


where-is-the-beef 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:

  1. Michigan checked up on and punished players for missing class in the summer, as suggested earlier.
  2. QC assistants overstepped their bounds and did some prohibited coaching activities.
  3. 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.

Repeat What?

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.

Brandon: Pimp

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.]



February 23rd, 2010 at 2:05 PM ^

There was much speculation as to how the Freep would portray this. I submit that all you need to know is that their headline is:

"NCAA: U-M football made 5 major rule violations."

I haven't read the story yet, but there you go...

lexus larry

February 23rd, 2010 at 2:11 PM ^

Fr**p Headline: NCAA: Michigan Football Made 5 Major Rule Violations

Detroit News headline: Michigan Football found to have exceeded practice-time limits

And how did the lousy Fr**p bastids come up with that?


February 23rd, 2010 at 2:13 PM ^

the Freep says that Michigan committed 5 MAJOR violations. I'll trust the learned, respected Freep over Brian. I mean how could Brian be so far off on this? Brian thinks they are just allegations, but actually violations have been found. Moreover, they were major, and there were five of them. I mean, come on Brian, stop drinking the maize and blue kool aid. The Freep is headed for a pulitzer here and thank god they are looking out for those kids. If not for the freep, the parents of those players would never have known that they should be angry at the football coaches for penalizing their kids when they don't go to class. Outrageous.

In case you didn't know, I was being sarcastic. ~Homer Simpson.

lexus larry

February 23rd, 2010 at 2:15 PM ^

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.]

But won't that typically be the standard, and the actual result will be less so. Because, if all we have is 20 minutes to 2 hours per week (SOME, not every week), and QC personnel overseeing class attendance, well, where is the MAJOR, loss-of-institutional-control allegation? What were THOSE violations?


February 23rd, 2010 at 2:17 PM ^

David "Shaft" Brandon was truly epic. The Freep was obvious.

I wish I worked closer to Ann Arbor to listen to TKA on the way home, to see how this will be covered. 1130 is unlistenable in the afternoon, for obvious reasons.

Yinka Double Dare

February 23rd, 2010 at 2:19 PM ^

The allegations seem to claim that Michigan was actually over by an hour on those Sunday practices. Still, the way the overages were for the same things over and over, it seems that there was a discrepancy between what Michigan compliance and the athletic department thought was countable and what the NCAA thinks was countable.

The Freep's headline is beyond ridiculous. There appear to be two program alllegations of violations (the QC stuff and the small hours overages) along with an individual one directed at QC coach Herron for lying and the other two being "you screwed up by not having the systems in place to notice these violations you didn't think were violations".


February 23rd, 2010 at 2:31 PM ^

Naw, Kiffin knows he's sitting pretty, because he knows USC would never do anything as stupid as penalizing an athlete for missing class. Or as stupid as cooperating with the NCAA in the first place, for that matter.

I guarantee that across the country, outside of Ann Arbor, the vast majority of fans will think that UM is guilty of things as serious as USC. They won't know the details because all they'll see are articles reprinted from the Freep in their local papers.


February 23rd, 2010 at 2:22 PM ^

(emphasis mine)

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.

I know some people may think this is nitpicky, but I don't care- voluntary practice is NOT a loophole, but a way of life for athletes in competitive collegiate programs. It is voluntary, not "voluntary." The NCAA practice minimums have been and always will be too low (if for no other reason than to err on the side of safety and academics), so any kid who is driven to be the best- in other words, any scholarship athlete at any Top 25 program- is going to volunteer, yes, VOLUNTEER to do more.

Voluntary hours are not an "end-around," they are simply the only way athletes achieve their goals. Please stop making it sound more skeevy than it actually is.


February 23rd, 2010 at 2:36 PM ^

What are the chances that a guy who works out the maximum mandatory time is going to be better than the guy who's working out 45 hours/wk on his own.
Taken in that light, the extra 25 ARE voluntary and they guarantee playing time. Welcome to a result driven reward system. It's the same as when you go to work every day.

The better you are, the more you play (if your case, get paid)


February 23rd, 2010 at 2:36 PM ^

Not to repeat a cliche... but playing time is voluntary too.

If some kid only does the 20 hours, while everyone else puts in more work and extra time, thus becoming better players, who do you think is going to end up with the playing time?

Get real man... This is elite competitive athletics. If a player wanted to put in only 20 hours per week and still play, he'd go to a less elite program. These kids know what they're signing up for.


February 23rd, 2010 at 2:48 PM ^

I understand all three of your points, and happen to agree with them (so does the NCAA apparently); however, Brian mentioned that other programs are skating around the issue using voluntary time. I was trying to point out why it is an extremely thin line to be treading and how every other program is tip toeing along it.


February 23rd, 2010 at 2:40 PM ^

You were told that starting in, what, 4th grade or whatever age you stated organized sport. I can't EVER think of a sport I was in where if you didn't practice outside of practice the coach wouldn't give you a wary eye/bench you. Heck, we had "optional" open gym starting in 7th grade basketball during both the summer and on Sundays and we all knew that if you didn't go you'd start out at the end of the bench. Eventually some people got word of it and shut down the Sunday practice but, like I said, this is life. Those who want to succeed do the most non-mandatory work and that's just how it is. It's really just an athletic version of capitalism interestingly enough - Freedom FTW! :)


February 23rd, 2010 at 3:14 PM ^

The point being made is that if you don't do voluntary workouts then you won't play.

That's completely voluntary. Nobody is being forced to get playing time. They can choose to earn playing time, or not. There is nothing involuntary about anything there.

Here, let me demonstrate:

The point being made is that if you don't stop eating Krispy Kreme Glazed Fruit Pies, then you won't be thin. That doesn't sound very voluntary, does it?

Is it your contention that in the above sentence, people are being "forced" to be thin, and thus are not allowed to eat Krispy Kreme Glazed Fruit Pies?


February 23rd, 2010 at 2:24 PM ^

the national media outlets are just reporting the cut-and-dry "violations were found". I'm hoping some of the national columnists will get on the ball and get into the facts - slight oversights, misunderstandings of complicated rules - rather than massive institutional fraud like the Free Press has alleged all along.


February 23rd, 2010 at 2:28 PM ^

Having read through the notice, there are 5 allegations (not all of them directed at UM)

1. QC staff doing things they shouldn't have
2. Exceeding practice hours
3. Alex Herron provided false and misleading information to NCAA staff
4. That as a result of 1. and 2. RR failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program
5. That as a result of 1. and 2. the Athletics Department failed to adequately monitor its football program to assure compliance.

Having read through the allegations, 4. and 5. in particular sure sounds more serious than implied by Brandon.


February 23rd, 2010 at 2:35 PM ^

I think that any time you have 1 and 2 you will likely have the addition of 4 and 5, almost by definition. Remember, these are allegations. If the QC staff did things they shouldn't have, and if they exceeded practice hours, aren't 4 and 5 truisms? If the football program was non-compliant in those areas, they have to include the accusation that there was an atmosphere of non-compliance. And if 1 and 2 are true, then by definition the AD failed to adequately monitor (otherwise 1 and 2 would not have happened).


February 23rd, 2010 at 2:45 PM ^

I'm pretty sure there is a difference between:

A) Instances of non-compliance within a generally compliant system
B) A system in which compliance is not a priority

4. and 5. are accusations of the latter. Their presence should be a serious red flag, as it indicates suspicion of lack of good-faith compliance efforts (i.e. intent to break the rules), as opposed to a few slip-ups.


February 23rd, 2010 at 2:36 PM ^

No, no it doesn't.

QC staff were at practices they shouldn't have been. That's bad. Yes.

Exceeded practice hours because they thought stretching wasn't part of practice. Oops. NOT BAD.

Alex Herron said what he THOUGHT, which turned out to be wrong. That'd be tantamount to calling an incorrect answer on your math test "major".

4 and 5 are paperwork and concept issues. Fix the paperwork, no issues. I wouldn't have had a clue it wasn't okay to make sure players were going to sunday classes. Seriously? It's better to let them fail.

This is minor, minor stuff.