In an August 4, 2010 letter from David Price, NCAA VP of Enforcement to WVU President James Clements, the NCAA alleged 5 Major, and 1 Minor, WVU Violations, which charges also run to Rich Rodriguez, because he was Head Coach there through Dec. 2007.
The WVU charges, as noted in our previous post, are almost identical to those made against UM and Rich Rod: too much coaching and practice-time, and RR’s “failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.” (In the UM case, RR & UM admitted the excess-coach and practice-time major violations, and contested the “atmosphere-failure” charge. On Nov. 4, the NCAA ruled that RR did not fail to “promote an atmosphere of compliance.”)
But the WVU charge, as noted earlier, asserts that WVU Compliance had told WVU coaching staff that there were problems with use of excess coaches — but that those “Excess Coaches” continued, thereafter, to be used. In other words, this charge alleges a knowing violation by RR.
Since that Aug. 4 NCAA Charge-Letter to WVU, some interesting, if not odd, things have happened, and I’ll list them:
1) The Aug. 4 NCAA Charge Letter to WVU correctly states that NCAA process usually allows a university to choose between having either: 1) an in-person hearing (after the school files its’ written response), or 2) utilizing the “Summary Disposition” process (i.e., no hearing, just submission of written evidence.)
2) NCAA VP Price’s August 4 letter also summarily concludes that:
“It is my understanding that the summary disposition process is not an option due to [WVU’s] status as a possible repeat violator under Bylaw 22.214.171.124.”
[WVU was found to have been a “major violator” in 2007 arising out of NCAA Bylaw violations in its’ Men’s Soccer Program.]
3) That Aug. 4 NCAA/WVU letter also explicitly stated:
“The Committee on Infractions will determine following the Infractions Hearing if your institution should be subject to the provisions of this bylaw [126.96.36.199] and whether the enhanced penalties provided for in the bylaw should be imposed.”
4) At this point, it appeared that WVU had the option of filing a written response, in anticipation of the Hearing, on: a) an “Expedited” 76-day schedule, which would have required filing by mid-October; or, b) a “Usual” 90-day response time, which would have required written response by mid-November.
5. And, in a Aug. 10, 2010 article in the Charleston Gazette by reporter David Hickman, he states that:
“According to a school statement, the university was prepared to go with the expedited time schedule (76 days to respond to the charges), but the NCAA told the school that it would have to go with the normal 90 days.
The school did not say so, but it is believed that a third party in the investigation was unwilling to agree to the 76-day response window. In addition to WVU and Stewart, Rodriguez is also charged with violations while at West Virginia and would presumably have to respond to those. He is facing similar and additional NCAA charges at his current school, Michigan. “[Emphasis Added.]
[The clear suggestion is that Rich Rod did not agree to an expedited 76-day schedule, and so prevented the WVU matter from being considered at the Dec. 10-11 meeting of the NCAA Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis, and appearing to mandate that it be heard, instead, at its’ Feb. 10-11 meeting in Ft. Lauderdale.]
6. On Nov. 18, WVU announced that there would be no hearing, and that the NCAA/WVU/Rich Rod charges would be adjudicated by way of the “Summary Disposition” process.
What’s the significance of all this, vis-a-vis Rich Rod’s status at Michigan?
1. It directly contradicts NCAA VP Price’s statement that the “Summary Disposition Process” is not available to WVU due to its’ repeat violator status.
2. It also contradicts the suggestion in that letter that, if WVU or any party wanted to utilize a Summary Disposition process and penalty provision, then a request to do so would have to be made at the hearing before the Infractions Committee. No hearing’s been held, so apparently something has happened behind the scenes which nonetheless has allowed WVU and RR to avoid a hearing, and just submit a written submission.
3. The WV press suggest this is because all parties (WVU, Rich Rod, and the NCAA Enforcement Staff) have reached an agreement. Nowhere is this explicitly stated; moreover, it appears, according to NCAA procedural rules, to be an end-run around the hearing requirement. What may be more true — and we are inferring from an incomplete set of facts — is that the “agreement” amongst all may have eliminated the need for a hearing. And it is, in that scenario, extremely unlikely that the NCAA Enforcement Staff willy-nilly decided to “back off” on its’ charge that RR “failed to promote a [WVU] atmosphere of compliance. Instead, it is much more likely that this U-Turn in NCAA process (again, all facts are not publicly available) happened because RR and WVU “caved on all charges.”
If the latter scenario is true, then RR has already admitted to a) having “failed to promote a [WVU] atmosphere of compliance” and; b) having been told by his WVU Compliance people, sometime in the middle of events, that excess Coaches were being used, and that he continued using them. And those admissions would clearly subject Rich Rod to a potential Show Cause finding, and may even subject him to some kind of suspension.
[One final note: If the Committee on Infractions disagrees with the Summary Disposition filed with them, they can still require that a hearing be held.]