West Virginia accused of five major violations
The NCAA has accused West Virginia's football program of five major and one secondary rules violations from 2005 to 2009, including under former coach Rich Rodriguez.
The allegations released Thursday allege student managers, graduate assistants and others worked with football players on their skills and techniques in violation of NCAA limits. The alleged violations occurred under both Rodriguez and current coach Bill Stewart.
The allegations say both Rodriguez and Stewart failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance. The NCAA made similar accusations against Rodriguez during an earlier, separate investigation at Michigan.
West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said Thursday that WVU has fully cooperated with the NCAA.
"West Virginia University has always prided itself on its commitment to compliance," Luck said in a statement. "We take this responsibility very seriously. I know that our coaches and staff are fully supportive of these obligations."
The NCAA has interviewed more than 80 people during the past nine months, Luck said. The NCAA arrived on West Virginia's campus in April following its investigation into Rodriguez's practices at Michigan.
Luck said West Virginia has already taken strides to avoid further improprieties, including reducing the number of football staff members and restructuring the student manager program. The school also came up with new guidelines for which tasks non-coaching assistants could and could not perform. Luck said West Virginia may impose other measures in the wake of the NCAA's notice.
Stewart became West Virginia's head coach in 2008, taking over for Rodriguez, who left for Michigan after the 2007 season. Under Rodriguez, the Wolverines are being investigated by the NCAA for five potentially major rules violations, including those limiting the time spent on practice and football-related activities.
In May, Michigan self-imposed a reduction in the number of assistants -- so-called quality control staff -- from five to three and banned the assistants from practices, games and coaching meetings for the rest of the coming season.
Michigan admitted that not only had players put in too many hours, but also that too many people were acting as coaches. The school said non-coaches had crossed the line in specific situations and engaged in coaching activities as defined by the NCAA.
"There was absolutely no intent by this coach or any of his assistant coaches to hide anything from compliance," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said in May. "We disagree, I disagree, that Rich failed to provide an atmosphere of compliance. Rich has a history of following the rules."
Rodriguez said in a statement that he has always taken compliance seriously and "sincerely felt our program was open and transparent."
"I regret any mistakes that were made or rules that were misinterpreted," he said. "Any errors certainly weren't made intentionally. I openly discussed my past practices with NCAA investigators and will continue to cooperate fully during this process.
"I have redoubled efforts with my staff and our compliance team to improve several processes, strengthen communications and work to ensure these mistakes wont happen in the future," he said.
Brandon said there will be no change in Rodriguez's job status as a result of Thursday's NCAA announcements.
"We're not part of the inquiry at WVU and we have limited access to the information pertaining to this investigation," Brandon said. "We're certainly paying close attention to the situation, but we all need to let the process and the facts unfold before we draw any conclusions. I'm not going to speculate about any aspect of the outcome.
"I've already said Rich is our coach this fall and WVU's announcement does not change that fact."
Among the NCAA's allegations involving West Virginia:
• Between the 2005-06 and 2007-08 seasons, non-coaching staff members monitored and/or conducted skill-development activities with football players at least two days a week in the spring and summer.
• Between the 2005-06 and 2007-08 seasons, non-coaching staff members sometimes analyzed video with football players.
• From 2005-06 to 2007-08, non-coaching staff members sat in on coaches' meetings that they were not allowed to attend.
• From 2007-08 to 2009-10, non-coaching staff members did the above and also provided advice and/or corrections to players pertaining to technique and plays.
The NCAA also wants to know if West Virginia believes Rodriguez and/or Stewart knew or should have known of the violations and/or that they were violations of NCAA rules.
"I have spoken at length to Coach Bill Stewart and his staff and I am convinced that they believe in operating a fully compliant football program. Coach Stewart and his coaches have my full support, the full support of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the full support of the university."