Michigan Wolverines Sanctions: Media Reports Greatly Exaggerated

Mitch MeyleContributor IMay 25, 2010

ANN ARBOR, MI - AUGUST 30:  Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Michigan Wolverines leads his team onto the field between Tim Jamison #90 and Sean Griffin #59 prior to playing the Utah Utes on August 30, 2008 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

There's a story within the story that nobody in the media is really talking about.

"... the University is satisfied that the initial media reports were greatly exaggerated if not flatly incorrect."

That's a pretty bold statement found in the report Michigan has released today, but is it true?  Let's see...

Rosenberg and Snyder claimed in their report that "according to sources" Michigan violated daily practice time limits of 4 hours a day by 6 additional hours a day some days!

They went on to say that, again, according to "sources" Michigan went 1 - 4 hours over in practice time during the weeks in season!

Want more?  Here is yet another one of their exaggerated claims, word for word:

"Players said that on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they were expected to spend two to three hours working on speed and agility. That brings the total time commitment to 15-21 hours a week — more than the NCAA’s weekly 8-hour limit, which includes time spent watching film."

Who are these players that the Free Press is using as sources though?  Well, a few are just like Je'Ron Stokes, players duped into saying things against Rodriguez by a reporter with an agenda!

Now let's look at what really happened...

In a very fair report by Adam Rittenberg from months ago you will find the following information detailing the truth:

"In two separate off-season periods in both 2008 and 2009, football players were sometimes required to participate in up to 10 hours of athletic activities or weight training/conditioning, which exceeds the limit of eight hours.

During the 2008 season, players were sometimes required to participate for up to five hours a day in "countable athletically related activities," exceeding the maximum of four hours. The staff exceeded the 20-hour-a-week limit by 20 minutes during the week of Oct. 19, 2008.

During September 2009, football players were required to participate in four and a half hours of activities per day, exceeding the NCAA limit by 30 minutes. The report identifies four dates in question: Sept. 7, Sept. 14, Sept. 21, Sept. 28."

The truth is a far cry from those initial reports.  Granted, Michigan did break the rules, but they were slightly over.  The Free Press report made it sound like Rodriguez and Barwis were out there with whips and fire hoses torturing the athletes while laughing like sadists!

To be fair, I'm not the only one who has reported on this disparity between what Rosenberg and Snyder reported and the truth.

I suppose all of this really begs the question, if Michigan is going to hold itself accountable, how about Rosenberg and Snyder do the same?  I'm not delusional, I know they would never hold themselves up to the same standard as Michigan has, but still I'd like to see them take some ownership over printing accusations that were largely unfounded. 

If a major university can own up to breaking the rules, why can't Rosenberg and Snyder own up to unethical journalism resulting in the printing of exaggerated if not flatly incorrect claims?  Accountablity isn't just for the University or Rodriguez here, it's for the reporters too.

If we are to receive our news from them, the least they can do is put in a little legwork to confirm what they are reporting is true!  Is that really too much to ask? 

Is wanting the truth to be in a columnist's column truly that impossible of a request?  I know the media has become a bit of a runaway circus, but I think asking members of the media to hold themselves accountable for their reports is within reason... don't you? 

At the end of the day Michigan has penalized itself with a punishment that fits the crime—something minor.  Furthermore, Athletic Director David Brandon has reiterated that Coach Rodriguez will NOT be fired due to the findings of both the NCAA and internal investigation.  I know that must upset people hell bent on getting rid of him, but what really happened at Michigan can't be truthfully found in the media reports that first came out, and regardless of your propensity to believe them fully, the facts simply don't line up that way. 

It's time we held the reporters accountable, too!