Remember: Brandon knifed Morris, hard; fired him, quick-as-lightening, last April 25. I’m guessing Brandon didn’t really want to – the event normally would’ve been a “molehill” — but he had to, because the Driver of the UM Loaner Car in the April 14 accident was one of the illegal “Quality Control” staffers which were the subject of the NCAA violations. Here’s the explanation as to exactly how Morris “zipped his lips”, and took a huge “fall” for Brandon — and for UM — to save both from further NCAA problems. And this is why David Brandon owes Jamie Morris, big-time, and it explains why Morris can speak out the way he did at the Dec. 2 UM Football banquet to Drew Sharp of the Freep. Morris took a fall for Brandon, and saved Brandon’s butt — and Brandon knows it:
Take a quick look at the role of former Director of Football Operations Brad Labadie, because it sheds light on the Morris termination of April 25, 2010. The long Timeline shows Labadie’s day-by-day ugly dedication to profoundly disrupt, delay and ruin the entire “practice-time” recording and monitoring function. It is appalling. And this was supposed to have been one of his primary job functions. This was a UM employee who worked directly under RR, and in the same building, every day, and was paid an annual salary of $72,000. (Maybe a Loaner Car to go along with it?) And it wasn’t just one event Labadie subverted, or one time when his job performance was deficient. This went on day after day, week after week, month after month. Nothing. Not one Practice Time record — despite repeated, endless requests from Compliance. Nothing.
It must be noted here: Labadie was successful, even now, in accomplishing what appeared to have been his and Rich Rod’s long-standing goal: to conceal detail about practice times. Yet even Brandon now makes bold, assertive claims about the amount of practice time which actually occurred — knowing full well that the records (what ones there are) are profoundly deficient and thoroughly unreliable — due specifically to Labadie’s assiduous commitment to make sure none were generated, and that any generated (long) after-the-fact were just guesswork.
And Labadie’s subversion of the entire record-keeping process went on from January 2008 through May 2009, at which point UM Auditors were due to come in to review records. Read the Exhibit to the UM Filing, where you can see Ann Vollano of Compliance pleading with Labadie – once again – in a last-minute email on May 7, 2009:
“I just want you to know that the auditors are here doing the CARA [looking for Practice Time records.] They have an empty folder for Football.“
And then the following day, again Vollano emails Labadie:
“Brad, they were here yesterday and are done with CARA. Right now their report is going to include a finding that there were no CARAs for football. Can you get them to me ASAP so I can have them review them? Please advise. Their report goes to Bill [AD Martin], the President [Coleman] and the Regents.”
Ask yourself (if only because no one apparently bothered to ask Labadie): why was this allowed to go on so long? When it was clear, in January 2009, that Martin knew Labadie had done nothing about Practice Time records, what happened? Was a disciplinary hearing held within one week, a la Jamie Morris? Was he asked pointed questions in a hearing (or in any other setting) about why this had happened? No. And what, in fact, happened, is that Martin resolved, at that time, to cover it up.
On May 7, Vollano of CSO was legitimately concerned: the Audit report was going to go to the Big Shots: Martin, Coleman, the Regents. So, you think: Wow, the artificial turf is going to hit the fan now. Labadie’s toast now. Disciplinary hearing, for sure. And they (Martin, Coleman) will ask him what went on, why did you never file any Practice Logs? Or, did you even record any data at all, anywhere, even on some napkins? What in the world have you been doing? – we need an explanation. And, by the way, we need to know about every time you and RR discussed these topics. Did it occur to Bill Martin, by the time Labadie did a complete “no-show” for the May 2009 Audit, that Labadie’s relentless, pro-active failure to file Practice Logs for 18 months may have been part of someone’s plan, and that one reasonable potential inference was that Labadie (and others working with him) might have been intentionally “failing” to file those logs because they were trying to “cover-up” the actual practice times themselves?
Does any of that happen? Does Labadie get a nasty, bilious character-assassinating termination letter, like Brandon sent Morris, from Martin? Does he get demoted? Do they at least take him off the CARA responsibility? Is Martin furious with him? No, no, no, no, and no. (Stop one second here: Does Martin know or at least suspect by this time that something is really fishy? Is Martin just part of the entire Cover-up? Yes, and Yes.)
Labadie Goes on a Junket with …. AD Bill Martin: Had Labadie been given the same treatment given Jamie Morris, Labadie would’ve had a disciplinary hearing and termination letter within 10 days of May 7, when Labadie’s completely unexplained, if not bizarre and 17-month-long “crash” of the Practice-time monitoring system came to the attention of the the Auditors. After all, didn’t the Auditors “go directly to” Bill Martin on May 7, to tell them about this giant void in his operation?
Morris was out of a job within 10 days of the tiny auto accident. Let’s look at what happens to Labadie 10 days after the May 7 Audit. In fact, Labadie –goes –to–Chicago — with –get this — Bill –Martin, to the Big Ten Conference Convention. Stays in a fancy hotel, rubs elbows with the panjandrums at the Big Ten spring meeting. There’s no hearing, no sanction, no investigation. He’s a major-league no-show throughout his tenure as Director of Football Operations, the “point man” on what are later admitted NCAA Major violations -and he goes to the Big Ten Conference spring meeting, as planned? That’s all. Kinda makes you scratch your head? Tell you anything about the “Atmosphere of Compliance” engendered by RR and AD Martin? Does it suggest to an objective observer that someone – RR? Martin? – might not necessarily have been displeased about the absence of Practice Time logs?
And two other very interesting questions are raised by this scenario, which we’ll never know the precise answer to. Martin had been in charge of this “Practice Time” for at least 5 months. Did he tell Labadie, “don’t produce any CARA forms for the May 7 Audit, it’s better to have none than to have ones which are garbage and not signed as they should be.” But second question: did he also NOT tell Vollano that that was the plan? Did Vollano get played for the fool by Martin, as he orchestrated his “handling” (burial) of the problem? — so that Vollano is sending out pleading emails to Labadie, when Martin and Labadie know that there aren’t going to be any forms?
[One question, you say: what about the theory that Labadie was a “Lone Wolf”, with no connection to or direction from RR; just a fellow who maliciously hides from his boss what he is doing all these months, and only wants to subvert this entire compliance structure? However unlikely this scenario, wouldn’t RR’s motivation then would have been one of even greater anger – and legitimate motivation – to get Labadie out – immediately?]
So how about when the Audit Report- which goes to Coleman, and Martin, and the Regents – the Regents! – comes out in late July 2009? By this time they must be ready to roast Labadie, right? Geez, Coleman must think when she reads it, Bill Martin hasn’t fired this guy Labadie yet? Or his boss, Draper?
But Coleman doesn’t blink an eye. Never crossed her mind, apparently. (And at this point, you think: Coleman is lost as any kind of moral force. But that may not be fair; she’s a decent soul who’s getting some good, and some bad, information.)
But it must have crossed Martin’s mind. He should be livid, this should be the kind of thing that might make a guy accost somebody – Labadie, in fact. But he doesn’t. And there might be a reason he doesn’t discipline or fire Labadie, and never has, and that Labadie is allowed to just “keep on keepin’ on” in the same position. And here’s why: Martin needs Labadie, in July 2009 and for the whole length of this pending issue. Labadie knows. Labadie knows alot. Of stuff. He worked daily right alongside RR. RR and Labadie know – and planned -alot, together. We’ll never know precisely how much Labadie’s malversations might be directly or indirectly tied to things he was told explicitly or implicitly by RR, because no one bothered to ask RR. And Martin knows (and the UM lawyers probably know that Martin knows) how much Labadie knows. So the last thing Martin wants to do is give Labadie any kind of even slight sanction, much less a firing. And he doesn’t want anyone else asking Labadie any questions. No hearing, no sanctions. No questions, much less hard questions. Martin and RR “go easy” on Labadie….REAL easy. Sound like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?”… “Code of Silence?”
Contrast this with Morris’ experience. Brandon doesn’t go easy on Jamie Morris; Morris gets taken down hard. And the only reason Brandon clobbers Morris with the firing and the letter is because because Loaner Car usage by a QC Staffer is probative, for the NCAA, as to whether the QC’s really were coaches, and because Brandon is desperate to maintain the baseless fiction that RR “promoted an atmosphere of compliance,” and that there was no “lack of institutional control.”
But here’s the disturbing part: a reasonable scenario is that Morris was just doing his job – running the Loaner Car program – just as he always has, for years, in the context of RR’s entire ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ compliance environment, probably giving out Loaners to all manner of people, including QC guys (with Martin’s, Draper’s and RR’s acquiescence and/or encouragement).
In fact, the Morris matter normally would have remained a molehill – but for the fact that the Car Loaner problem boils up on April 23, 2010, only four weeks before the UM NCAA Filing is made. And the Morris car issue is potentially directly pertinent to the NCAA charges. After all, the central NCAA issue is whether the QC staff were acting as coaches. What was this QC “staffer” doing, this past April 14, driving a “Coach’s” car for a month? Don’t the RR and UM Filings both insist that the QC “Staffers” were not “Coaches”, and that they just happened to get caught doing some coaching a few times?
Morris lies, yes. He tries to cover up. This is not good. But look, for a moment at the context within which Morris has worked in the Athletic Department under RR and Martin. He knew — like everyone else — that Brad Labadie (and many others) not only got off without a scratch, when Labadie was protecting and dissembling about the Department’s wayward Practice and Coach-number practices — but Morris also had learned the extent to which the Athletic Department values such efforts to hide reality –and Cover-up – as a part of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ compliance ethic which prevailed. And he may have known two other things : 1) about the extent to which the QC Staffers consistently – as opposed to occasionally – acted as coaches under RR; and 2) That the March and April 2010 car use by a QC guy can hurt the NCAA’s adjudication of its’ charges against UM.
So Morris is nothing but loyal – a perhaps morally misguided loyalty, yes – but loyal, and marching in line with all the other foot soldiers — Labadie, Draper, Parker, Barwis, nine Assistant Coaches, Grad Asst. Alex Herron – he has seen playing deaf and dumb within the RR and Martin-fostered ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Compliance environment. And the extent of Morris’ dissembling pales in comparison to that of RR and his Hip-Pocket guys over a period of years. To drive the point home: Morris has been loyal throughout.
But it’s slightly more complex than that — and he has been even more loyal than we’ve shown so far – as follows: As one can see from the Morris termination letter, there is some suggestion at the April 23 DRC meeting that Morris may actually know more about the extent to which this “QC Staffer Car-Loan” might have been a common practice. At the April 23 DRC meeting, Morris makes that implication. He obviously gets pressed on it. And then finally denies, when pressured, that there were any other instances of car-loan to other QC “Staffers”. We may never know exactly what decision-making went through Jamie Morris’ mind at that point, but there is there the strong odor of a notion that Morris knew that he had to keep his mouth shut and lie – or the whole NCAA investigation might be even more seriously jeopardized. A thought process not unlike, one might conclude, the kind of thinking which went through Bill Martin’s mind when he took over handling of the Practice Time and Coach-number issues in January 2009: just bury it and keep quiet. The difference, though, between Martin and Morris is that Morris got knifed while he was implementing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” compliance ethic which Martin created and implemented throughout the Department. They hang the underling, though he’s being loyal to the end, and they let the big guy (Martin) walk away in his white shoes.
And if Loaner Car usage by QC Staffers was not isolated to the one-month loan enjoyed by the QC Staffer who had the April 14 accident, and was, instead, common across all QC’s, then David Brandon’s role is called into question (because, unlike the other activities, this one continued on Brandon’s “watch”), and Morris’ denial of any such broader QC car usage is a “Tiny Fib” to protect Brandon, and UM. In that entirely plausible scenario, Morris dissembled to protect the very “Michigan Man” who fired him: Brandon.
So Morris has functioned as a good and loyal foot soldier, in an overall “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” compliance era at UM, fostered by RR and Bill Martin, and Morris ends up covering for everyone. But RR and Martin are the ones who get the unquestioning, blind allegiance and the ultimate “protection” of their reputations by the “fake-out” defense articulated to the NCAA. (Rich Rod “didn’t know”, and Martin’s burial of everything ’til the Freep blew up his plan was just “Inattention.”) And Morris?: he’s shown the door, with a knife in the back from Brandon as he goes.
Let’s give this Morris tragedy a little more context. It might make you hyperventilate, if you read the whole record, and if you have any ability any more to get mad. Morris gets terminated within days of the April 14 auto accident, and the letter of termination is brutal. And he’s had his Disciplinary Hearing within a week of the accident. Bam! Gone, for one event. Then examine more closely that horrible letter Brandon sent to Jamie Morris. Make your own decision — based on the above review of the UM and RR NCAA Filings: By rights, who should have received a letter with the following language in it? (quoted from Morris’ termination letter):
“[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.”
Rich Rod? Bill Martin? Brad Labadie? Scott Draper?