U-M players allege program broke NCAA rules

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

A week before Year 2 of the Rich Rodriguez era is set to begin, Michigan players have made very serious allegations against the program regarding the time they spend in training and practice sessions.

Six current or former Michigan players, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Detroit Free Press that the program repeatedly violated NCAA rules by exceeding the allotted time for practice and offseason workouts.

The allegations include:

  • In-season football activities that far exceeded the 20-hour-per-week allotment from the NCAA. Players said they often spent nine hours on football activities the days after games -- the NCAA mandates a four hour daily limit.

  • Offseason workouts that lasted two or three times longer than the eight hours per week allowed. Though players are voluntarily allowed to work out as much as they'd like, the allegations suggest the Michigan training staff required such a commitment from its players.

  • Members of the team's quality control staff were present for 7-on-7 drills during the offseason, which violates NCAA rules. Only trainers are allowed to attend these workouts.

  • The time demands on players negatively affected their academic performance.

  • Several current Wolverines freshmen spoke openly to the Free Press about daily workout regimens that violated NCAA rules.

  • Players were forced to sign NCAA forms stating all rules had been followed and not informed the school's compliance department of any violations for fear of punishment from the program.

Many of the allegations concern Michigan strength and conditioning director Mike Barwis, who received a lot of positive press before the 2008 season, and Barwis' staff.

A former Michigan player told ESPN's Joe Schad that the Free Press report was accurate.

The player, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions from fans, said in-season Sundays at the football facility lasted from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., including a one-hour lunch. That would be an 11-hour day. The NCAA daily limit is four hours, the weekly limit 20.

The same player said required offseason workouts included three-hour lifts on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays and two hours of speed and agility on Tuesdays and Thursday. That's a total of 13 hours, with the limit at eight hours of required workouts.

This player said he would tell the Big Ten or NCAA what players were required to do and believes most of his former teammates would, as well.

Rodriguez and Michigan's compliance director Judy Van Horn issued statements to the newspaper, saying the program conforms to NCAA rules and does spot checks on practice.

"We have not had any reason to self-report any violations in this area with any of our sports," Van Horn said.

Needless to say, these are very serious allegations that could prompt investigations by the NCAA and the school.