Rodriguez’ April ’08 Deposition Contradicts His May’10 Filing’s Claim That He “Didn’t Know” the Rules

[Sum: RR’s 4/08 sworn -deposition in WVU Contract Buyout litigation showed he knew — contrary to his claim in the UM NCAA case – that any coaching activity engaged in by a staffer required that he be counted as a “coach.”]

As you may recall, WVU’s lawsuit filed against RR, after he left for Michigan, claimed that he owed WVU millions for breaching of his employment contract. Michigan ended up paying the amount in question, but only after the matter had gone through pre-trial discovery, including depositions of RR and other pertinent characters. We reviewed  the transcript of RR’s 7.5 hour deposition of 4/21/08, on the off-chance that it might tell us something worthwhile about the credibility of RR’s claims that all the admitted NCAA violations were the inadvertent result of his “Didn’t Know, Didn’ Read, Didn’t Ask” state of mind.

And the deposition does contains one major damaging admission by RR, and several other very pertinent ones, as follows:

1.  RR Knew that any coaching activity by any new staffer would violate NCAA Bylaws:

At p. 147 of RR’s deposition, RR testified, under oath, as follows:
Q:  Were you ever told by anyone that your request for additional graduate assistants in the [WVU] Strength & Conditioning Program would violate NCAA rules?
A:  No. And that’s not true, regarding the number of graduate assistants for the Strength & Conditioning. You can have as many as you want.
Q:  As long as you use them for strength and conditioning?
A:  Right.
Q:  But if you use them to help do other things, including coaching, it’s a violation of the rules, isn’t it?
A:   Right. You have to use only the 12 on field for coaching. We understood the rules.

This testimony — given some 4 months into his tenure as UM Head Coach (and after he’d had the benefit of two Compliance Seminars for UM Football Coaches in Ann Arbor), shows that RR clearly knew that any activity other than Strength & Conditioning by a Grad Assistant or other staffer, at any time (regardless of season) was an obvious violation of NCAA rules and regs.

II.   At WVU, RR had several cell phones – and the Blackberry one was used primarily for texting:

At p. 209 of the transcript, the following exchange takes place:

Q:  What cell numbers did you have access to –cell phone numbers or mobile phone numbers did you have access to in November and December of 2007?
You had a cell phone from West Virginia, did you not?
A:   Correct.
Q:   And did you have a personal phone beyond that?
A:   No.
Q:  Rita [RR’s wife] had a cell phone didn’t she?
A:   Yes………..[omission here of irrelevant material]
Q:  I know your phone was — you obtained your phone or got your phone from WVU, correct?
A:   Correct.
Q:   They provided it to you, correct?
A:   That’s correct…[omission]    ….
[Rita] had her own personal cell phone.
Q:  Did you have a Blackberry?
A:   Yes, provided by the University.
Q:  Separate from your cell phone?
A:   Yea, that was a second – a second cell phone. I used that more for text messaging.

Why is this pertinent?  Because the UM and RR Filings focussed so heavily on the “written” trail from all emails generated on the UM system by the Athletic Dept and Coaching personnel.   If, however, RR had a Blackberry, which he used “more for text messaging,” then UM and RR have failed to produce a probably substantial set of additional written communications from RR, presumably to numerous other Athletic Department personnel — messages which might plausibly be very probative.

This is particularly true in light of the “hole” in the email record created by two of RR’s habits:   he apparently never sent one single email on the system, because there is no record of one, and no reference to one, throughout the entire set of Exhibits and both the RR and UM Filing; and 2)  He worked in the same building, down the hall from, Dir. of FB Ops Brad Labadie and Asst AD for FB Scott Draper — yet is there is not one email anywhere between any of the three. Is it not reasonable that perhaps RR texted those two with some frequency – using a Blackberry?  Is there any good reason that neither the NCAA nor the UM investigators ever demanded that all of RR’s text messages be produced?

III.  Some changes in the Grad Assistant staffing were apparently agreed to by UM when they hired RR:

At p. 227, the following exchange took place:
[The reason RR wanted a $4 million liquidated damages clause in his contract with Michigan] was because RR didn’t know at that time if WVU would reduce the amount of the buyout he was obligated to pay them, and because he “trusted” UM.  Also because of]  “the U of M and the promises they gave me.  The things that were on here [the UM contract] regarding coaches salaries, which was at a level I wanted it to be at and the things I asked for in addition to the program, which has since been done, regarding graduate assistants and support for the program.”

In sum total, these excerpts from RR’s sworn testimony show that — contrary to his assertions in his Filing with the NCAA – he knew that having a Grad Assistant or other staffer perform more than just S&C violated NCAA Bylaw.

About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
This entry was posted in Michigan Football, NCAA Investigation, NCAA Violations, Quality Control Coaches, Rich Rodriguez, University of Michigan, West Virginia Football, WVU Football and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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