We’ve outlined earlier the extent to which it is obvious, based soley on the UM and RR Filings, that Rich Rod has constructed a “Didn’t Know, Didn’t Read, Didn’t Hear, and Overlooked”defense which does not meet a straight face test, and which anyone in the Michigan Athletic Department laughs at. But it’s worse than that, for Rich Rod, and for UM – and for Brandon and Coleman. Here’s why: on May 25, 2010, UM and RR filed their NCAA responses. The UM Filing is mendacity squared; other than the admissions of Violations, that Filing is chock full of nutty, duplicitous positions. And the “Corrective Actions” listed are almost meaningless, and ignore the State of the Art in the Compliance world. Brandon and Coleman — the decision-makers – chose to file a response which is shameless in its devotion to avoiding the truth. And the RR Filing is worse.
By all appearances, the UM Filing was a calculated gamble. Most likely, the approach appealed to Brandon, since he came up through the “Public Relations” side of his past companies, and therefore reflexively views any challenge or conflict as one which is to be met and overcome with “spin” — as opposed to slavish devotion to the truth, no matter what its’ apparent consequences.
But Brandon’s PR-based professional DNA doesn’t explain it all; as we previously pointed out, the entire UM Filing wreaks of skittishness about the “Big Boogey-Man” Charge: Lack of Institutional Control. We are fairly confident that the UM lawyers reached the same conclusion any reasonable person would after reviewing the entire record: AD Bill Martin’s Athletic Department, during the first 12 months of Rich Rod’s UM tenure (i.e., all of 2008), actively subverted Compliance. Of even greater concern for the UM lawyers, however, was that, as of January 2009, Bill Martin himself actively subverted Compliance, and probably committed ethical violations (for failure to reasonably investigate and report possible and probably obvious violations.)
So the UM Filing was a hodge-podge of irrelevant “dipsy-do”, scattered around the admitted Violations – all of which was meant to disguise the sore thumb created by the (lack of) leadership and individual actions (and failures to act) of Bill Martin. Brandon and Coleman, in these circumstances, apparently thought it best for UM to file alot of shameless fluff in its’ brief, including bluster about “no competitive advantage gained”, and “no athlete abuse”(repeated at the press conferences), — statements which belittle and probably alienate the NCAA.
And Brandon had enough to fire Rich Rod on May 25, but foolishly chose not to, apparently because he felt he could feint his way through the NCAA charges.
But Brandon and Coleman’s “sleight of hand” blew up on them, on August 5, when the NCAA announced its’ charges concerning WVU’s football program during the RR years and after. Those new WVU charges (at NCAA Charge #5) put UM and RR in a very indelicate position, for two reasons: 1) The WVU charges eerily mimic the NCAA’s charges against UM (too many coaches, too much practice, involving Grad Assistants and other “sport-specific” personnel; 2) They contain one charge which is not made against Michigan and RR — but which may cause UM to face further charges: that the WVU Compliance staff “communicated to coaches” about certain staffers “interacting” with athletes during practices and games — and that the activity questioned by Compliance continued after the Compliance communication with coaches. What’s that mean?: the NCAA is charging Rich Rod with “knowing” violations.
Why is this important in viewing the UM charges and the RR and UM Filings? Because just that WVU Charge #5 directly conflicts with RR’s “Didn’t Know, Didn’t Read, Didn’t Ask and Overlooked” loony defense in the UM case. The NCAA, based on what they’ve already found at WVU, may have now concluded that RR knew alot more than he admitted in the UM investigation.
So why is that important?: One of the standard rules of evidentiary inference is: “If you lie to me once, then I have good reason to doubt everything else you’ve told me — and much more reason to inquire much more closely.” And at that point, the NCAA may be wondering what we’ve wondered for months: how in the world could RR have really been ignorant of the “crashing” of the Practice-Time and Coach-Counting monitoring systems at UM — when he’d already been warned about all that at WVU?
So the NCAA may conclude not only that RR’s alleged Violations at WVU were “knowing”, but also that his Violations at UM were “knowing.” And it may then want to know more about who else at UM knew more than they let on. And the presence of “knowing” violations may lead to the very “Boogey Man” result which has skewed UM’s devotion to truthfulness with the NCAA: “Lack of Institutional Control.”
The NCAA may conclude that RR has lied on more than one fundamental issue, and that his behavior was knowing. And that may cause them to revisit UM, to inquire more closely of people like RR, Draper, Labadie, and Martin, about exactly what they discussed, texted, or communicated with RR on these topics. Brandon and Coleman played it cute when they responded in the May 25 Filing, when they should have fired RR, turned in Martin for his Violations, and cleaned the entire operation up.
And here’s the “bombshell” risk: the NCAA may know enough to conclude not only that RR’s violations were “knowing”, but they may also be on a trail which allows — or forces — them, depending on the precise nature of evidence turned up at WVU, to conclude that RR (and possibly others) actively engaged in a a coverup at UM.
Recall our first post, in late September, in which we quote Brandon’s language in his (ill-advised) Jamie Morris’ letter of termination, and where we posited that this same language might better have been applied to RR and others:
“[Discharged for failure to] appropriately manage a significant aspect of your work…the use of poor judgment, willful deception… and unethical attempt to engage others in an attempt to cover up the truth…and a deliberate effort to misrepresent the truth to your supervisor.”
Finally, recall Grad Assistant Alex Herron, who was fired by UM quite quickly when it was proven that he lied to the NCAA. Rich Rod could be in the same category.