As a spectator at Spartan Stadium I’ve been known, at the drop of a yellow flag followed by the pronouncement from a referee of a Neutral Zone Violation or something equally as Just. Plain. Wrong. by the visiting team, to bellow, “Michigan (or whomever) is cheating again!”
Believe me, if there was something even remotely major about this “scandal” involving the University of Michigan Football program, I would be screaming the good news from the rooftop: “Michigan Cheats! I knew it! They’ve been cheating all along!”
But, I read the NCAA report, the “Notice of Allegations” sent by the NCAA to the school as well as the letter they sent to U of M coach Rich Rodriguez, and based on what the NCAA is saying, these violations—which the NCAA calls “potential” major violations that, in their own words, could be reduced to something they call “secondary” violations—may wind up being a case of their being no “there”, there.
In any event, in my view, none of the alleged violations rise to the level of, for example, paying your star running back to play (eh, USC?) or of having half your team leave the annual end-of-season Football Bust, don ski masks and walk across the street to a dorm and start a brawl with a members of a fraternity with whom they have a beef (eh, Michigan State?).
This story, which began with allegations of illegal workouts mandated by Rodriguez by unnamed former and current Michigan players published late last fall by The Detroit Free Press, is all about something known as CARA—an NCAA-coined acronym for “Counted Athletic Related Activities."
During the off-season, football players are allowed 20 hours of CARA. The NCAA charges that in some weeks some Michigan football players racked up 20 and 1/2 hours of CARA.
NCAA rules say athletes are limited to 8 hours a week in the weight room. The NCAA says some players spent 10 hours a week there.
NCAA rules say that players are limited to weight training and watching game films in the off-season. The NCAA says some of the players played 7-on-7 football at various times during the off-season. Furthermore, the NCAA charges that some of those 7-on-7 games were presided over by Michigan “Quality Assurance” staffers, an action which they say made them de facto Assistant Coaches, meaning Michigan had 5 more assistants than permitted by rule.
Were there violations? It appears so. Do they seem like a huge deal? I will put the question to you.
I’m sure Michigan will be penalized, but I am guessing the penalty will be light.
But you ought to see what hoops Michigan has to jump through to answer the charges! Here’s an example of what the NCAA expects the University and the football program to produce in response to just one of the 5 allegations they’ve made:
And here’s the best part. The NCAA is very specific when it comes to how the documents should be presented. Think in terms of the worst stickler for crummy little rules you ever had in a professor:
It’s going to take a lot of staff a lot of time just to answer the charges, with Rodriguez and others set to testify before the NCAA when they meet in Seattle in mid-August. The paperwork has to be a major pain for the U of M staff, and may in and of itself be enough to prompt compliance in the future. I know I’d think twice before maybe committing a violation if I knew what it was going to mean in terms of possibly having to answer to formal charges down the line.
Finally, congratulations to the US hockey team for their hard-fought quarterfinal win over the Swiss. Too bad the Detroit Red Wings, er, the Swedish National Team, lost to Slovakia. I think the Swedes would have given Canada a better game in the semi’s. Canada is going to be tough to beat. They destroyed the Russians as you saw and have outscored their opponents 15-5 in their last two games. We’ll see. The US plays the Fins at 3 Friday. Canada meets Slovakia at 7:30. Winners go for the Gold Sunday.