It’s a cliché term, but Rich Rodriguez dodged a major bullet.
Today, after an over two-month investigation, the NCAA concluded that Rodriguez did not fail to promote an atmosphere of compliance, a potentially fireable offense under his contract with Michigan.
“He [Rodriguez] was cleared with respect to the failure to promote-the-atmosphere [allegation],” said Paul Dee, chairman of the NCAA D1 Committee on Infractions. “Some of the things that did occur did not get all the way to the coach.”
The university, however, conceded to four other violations in May involving excessive time limits that players could spend practicing/working out and members of the football program being present for practices/workouts.
In a separate probe at West Virginia, both Rodriguez and present coach Bill Stewart are also accused of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance. The irony here is that WVU could potentially be punished for the very accusation in which Rodriguez is now acquitted due to the fact that the allegations in Morgantown continued under Stewart (Et tu, Stew?) — even though there’s one common denominator between Michigan and West Virginia.
Rodriguez denies knowing about any wrong doing at UM. His defense statement reads, that he, “was not aware that NCAA legislation prohibits sport-specific non-coaching staff members from being involved with voluntary summer workouts,” but among the pages and pages of West Virginia’s accusation of infractions, there’s a violation — 5(a) to be specific — that states Rodriguez was aware he was breaking NCAA rules.
Unless RichRod suffers from amnesia, that sounds like failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.
Today’s NCAA report also states Rodriguez didn’t do his homework in preparation for the August hearing.
“The scope and nature of the violations also established that both the institution and the head football coach failed to monitor the football program,” the NCAA report said. “The committee was particularly concerned that, even after the head football coach and his staff were specifically educated on multiple occasions regarding the rules that were eventually violated, the violations continued. The duty to ensure that his staff abided by all applicable rules resided with the head football coach. At the hearing, he could not say with certainty that he read the educational materials provided to him.”
Given that statement from the NCAA, how Rodriguez got off scot-free is beyond me. Whatever Michigan’s lawyers said, it must have been stellar. If I had to guess, the 7 1/2 hour hearing probably went something like this:
Rodriguez isn’t out of the woods yet, though. The Wolverines are currently in the middle of a three-game losing streak and Rodriguez’s once-cooled seat has now warmed up yet again.
You can also read the NCAA’s entire findings here, which has added a third year of probation for Michigan.