Arizona Football: Coach pledges to toe the line on NCAA rules

2011-11-24T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:42:55Z Arizona Football: Coach pledges to toe the line on NCAA rulesPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 24, 2011 12:00 am  • 

When considering Rich Rodriguez for the vacant Arizona Wildcats head coaching position, UA athletic director Greg Byrne talked to coaches and administrators, but also to the NCAA and Michigan's compliance department.

He wanted to be clear about violations Rodriguez's staff committed while at Michigan and West Virginia.

Byrne questioned Rodriguez about the findings - that quality-control staff members ran offseason mandatory workouts and practices - and was pleased with what he found.

"I don't think it was too hard to get to the bottom of it," Byrne said. "I think I have a much clearer understanding of what the issues were.

"Once the issues were highlighted, they were addressed."

Rodriguez said it was a popular topic during his interviews with Byrne.

"Greg, you talk about his due diligence," Rodriguez said. "Which it should have been. Most of his questions - a lot of his questions - were in that regard: 'Tell me what happened at Michigan. Tell me about the NCAA issues.' "

Rodriguez, who was hired Monday, tried to put Byrne at ease.

"He said, 'Greg put a compliance guy in my meetings. Have a compliance guy at my practice every day. Have him out at workouts. I have nothing to hide,' " Byrne said. " 'If it's the rule, we're going to follow the rules.'

"I said, 'Good, that's what I want.' "

In August 2010, the NCAA accused Michigan of five major rules violations related to extra workouts.

From January 2008, when Rodriguez was hired at Michigan, to September 2009, the Wolverines exceeded the allowable amount of practice time and number of coaches.

Five quality-control staff members participated in on-field coaching, which the NCAA ruled illegal. Staff members ran voluntary workouts, required football players to participate in offseason conditioning activities and exceeded the legal amount of time for offseason activities.

According to the NCAA's public infractions report, Rodriguez, "by his own admission, did not pay proper attention to education in which the applications of rules that his staff violated were discussed." The report stated Rodriguez's "inattention contributed to the violations."

Michigan admitted guilt in four of the five violations and self-imposed punishments to cut quality-control staff and reduce practice by 130 hours.

The school placed itself on probation from November 2010 to November 2013. Rodriguez was instructed to attend an NCAA rules seminar.

Michigan, however, challenged the fifth violation: the claim that Rodriguez violated Bylaw 11 of the NCAA rulebook, which pertained to the responsibility of head coaches.

In August 2010, Rodriguez and Michigan athletic director David Brandon, among others, appealed the NCAA's original claim the coach failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance. In a seven-hour meeting in Seattle, Rodriguez and the university presented about a dozen boxes of evidence to the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

Two months later, the NCAA ruled Rodriguez had not violated Bylaw 11 but rather Bylaw 2, which dealt with university employee conduct.

The coach was guilty of a lesser charge - failing to monitor his program, but not of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The attorney Rodriguez said he "paid big money for" even gave Byrne "a big report on everything that happened" during the interview process, the coach said.

It appeared Rodriguez and his staffs, both at West Virginia and later Michigan, believed the activity was legal.

In July, Rodriguez and coach Bill Stewart, his replacement with the Mountaineers, were charged with failure to monitor compliance while at West Virginia for similar violations.

Rodriguez was not penalized, but West Virginia cut three individual scholarships over two years and imposed two years of probation on its program.

Rodriguez and Stewart agreed with the NCAA facts in a summary deposition.

Rodriguez told Byrne he would have no issues at the UA.

"Our guys are going to be compliant," he said. "I'm going to be compliant, 100 percent. It's always been important to me. I know that those eyes are on (me)."

 

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Pac-12 South football standings

Team W L T PCT
Arizona 5 1 0 0.833
Utah 5 1 0 0.833
USC 5 2 0 0.714
ASU 5 1 0 0.833
UCLA 5 2 0 0.714
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429

Pac-12 North football standings

Team W L T PCT
Oregon 6 1 0 0.857
Oregon State 4 2 0 0.667
Stanford 4 3 0 0.571
Washington 5 2 0 0.714
Cal 4 3 0 0.571
Washington State 2 5 0 0.286
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