Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
The allegations by current and former players at Michigan that they were forced to far exceed NCAA time limits by coach Rich Rodriguez raised the question of whether such problems existed at West Virginia under Rodriguez.
West Virginia compliance officials reviewed the situation after the Detroit Free Press story broke this weekend and say they're confident they followed the rules, Mike Casazza reports in the Charleston Daily Mail.
"Based upon our looking back over the weekend, we don't feel we have any concerns," assistant athletic director for communications Michael Fragale told the paper. "We have checked it out and there has been nothing flagged and nothing out of the ordinary. There were no student-athlete complaints during the time [Rodriguez] was here."
Casazza quotes a few former players, who spoke anonymously, who said they didn't experience the type of problems alleged at Michigan.
The Charleston Gazette's Dave Hickman writes that West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong and other officials watched Rodriguez "like a hawk" since he was an outsider coming into the program.
"[F]ormer compliance director Brad Cox was a semi-regular at WVU's football practices, oftentimes with athletic director Ed Pastilong in tow. No one ever said as much, but these guys knew that a new day had dawned and they wanted to be as certain as they could be that the young coach with the drive and the obsessive nature still functioned within boundaries. Rodriguez would see Cox or Pastilong paying close attention and was probably none too thrilled that he was, in a sense, being babysat, but these guys knew that you couldn't just turn over the keys and hope the speed limit was being obeyed."
Among the more serious allegations at Michigan was that players were forced to spend 10 to 12 hours at the football complex on Sundays. One former West Virginia player told the Times West Virginian's Bob Hertzel that Rodriguez demanded long hours on Sundays during his first season with the Mountaineers in 2001.
“I can honestly tell you -- it was ONLY in Coach Rod's first fall as WVU's head coach [September 2001 - November 2001] that I felt we were at the stadium far more than the NCAA allowed. Coach Rod made the team report to the football office on Sundays during the season only and attendance was checked.
“We had to change into our workout gear, stretch/warm-up, and the strength staff would conduct light lifting sessions and put the team through moderate conditioning on the football field. This, of course, was after 1-2 hours of treatment for injured players [if needed]. When you add all of the hours, it made for a less than desirable Sunday. I can remember missing all of 1:00 NFL games which didn't end until 3:30-3:45.”
The player said that practice ended the following season because of "the obvious displeasure among players" and the fact that the team was "winning on Saturdays."
Current West Virginia coach Bill Stewart, who was an assistant to Rodriguez before being promoted, was in no mood to discuss the Michigan situation or anything related to it yesterday. When a reporter from Ann Arbor tried to broach the subject on the Big East coaches' teleconference, the normally talkative Stewart said, "Next question." When asked if he was serious, he said, "I'm here to talk about West Virginia football."