Saturday, August 29, 2009

Freep: Michigan Violated NCAA Rules, MSU Didn't

A Detroit Free Press investigation that found Michigan football officials violated NCAA rules, including those on off-season workouts and contact between coaches and players, did not uncover any rule-breaking by Michigan State.

From the Freep's report:
Players on the 2008 and 2009 teams described training and practice sessions that far exceeded limits set by the NCAA, which governs college athletics. The restrictions are designed to protect players’ well-being, ensure adequate study time and prevent schools from gaining an unfair competitive advantage.

The players, who did not want to be identified because they feared repercussions from coaches, said the violations occurred routinely at the direction of Rodriguez’s staff.

“It’s one of those things where you can’t say something,” one current Wolverine said. “If you say something, they’re going to say you’re a lazy person and don’t want to work hard.”

My thoughts when reading the detailed violations laid out in Michael Rosenberg and Mark Snyder's comprehensive report were, in order, "Holy crap" then "I hope State's not a part of this." And according to three former players, including Javon Ringer and Otis Wiley, MSU plays by the rules. And thank goodness for that, because the NCAA penalties for this could be severe.

Major NCAA violations can carry penalties from banning coaches and players, forcing games off television, scholarship reductions and even bowl bans. The ultimate penalty, the so-called "death penalty", would be to ban Michigan from even playing football at all - but that hasn't been used since it killed off the once-dominant Southern Methodist program 1987, and these violations aren't nearly that severe.

This isn't a time to gloat at Michigan's misfortune, however.

The best thing for MSU football is to dominate a worthy opponent and earn its way to becoming the undisputed number one program in the state. I want to beat a great Michigan team, each and every year. Sure, a win is a win, but I don't want to win this way. Part of me hopes this isn't actually true - Michigan did deny the allegations in statements to the Freep - but I'm mindful that the state of Michigan's best newspaper did just get a Pulitzer for investigative coverage, and the two reporters on this story have a professional reputation beyond reproach.

The NCAA should take whatever steps are necessary to clean up Michigan's program, as well as any other program doing this. If that means getting rid of Rich Rodriguez and all his assistants, fine. But I'm hoping this doesn't kill off Michigan football.

I want the so-called leaders and best at their best. But cheating to get there is unacceptable. And while this is not a time to gloat over someone else's misfortune, MSU fans should be proud that Mark Dantonio hasn't done that.


  1. It doesn't do anybody any good for Michigan to be doing this if it is true. Michigan irritates me, like they do a lot of people (Spartans or not). But they're jerks, not cheaters. I won't be gloating because I think it is sad (legitimately sad, not the sort of fake "sadness" that Tom DeLay said he felt toward the Democrats). RichRod is a slimeball and I hope, for THEIR sake (let alone ours, for the reasons Derek talked about here) that they cut ties with him ASAP.

    The Midwest of the United States has a reputation for a certain dorky earnestness, honesty, and decency; a reputation that I think is basically well-deserved. When something like this happens, it puts a dent in that a bit. I don't like that.

  2. See, I disagree with you on wanting Michigan to be great when we beat them, etc. I don't care. It's on them if they're going to shoot themselves in the foot by breaking the rules. If breaking those rules and getting caught diminishes their quality of play, too bad for them. They have to face the consequences.