Rich Rodriguez Letter Raises More Questions Than It Answers

Jeff Woollard@JeffWoollardCorrespondent IIJuly 11, 2010

Several weeks ago, Michigan issued its public response to the ongoing NCAA investigation into its storied football program. Renewing the discussions concerning Rich Rodriguez and his tenure as Michigan’s head football coach.

Prior to that, there was great debate web wide about the NCAA investigating WVU concerning Rich Rodriguez and his time as the head football coach.

It’s funny how Rich Rodriguez can have that effect on people "irregardless” whether those fans follow Michigan or West Virginia football. Love him or hate him, Rodriguez engenders an opinion from most college football fans.

Much of the WVU debate centered on numerous reasons why Rich Rodriguez left WVU to coach at Michigan. For the record, here is a copy of the letter that Rich Rodriguez sent to athletic director Ed Pastilong listing his reasons for resigning.

With his list of reasons for resigning in place, let us look into each issue Rodriguez lists for resigning.

The buyout clause: is it surprising that issue is at the top of the list? So great was his disdain for the buyout, he listed it twice.

Rodriguez signed the contract, if he had reservations about signing he should not have signed. There is not much to add to this issue, it was agreed upon and Rodriguez will continue to make payments until it is paid in full.

Now we come to the meat and potatoes for Rodriguez’ departure, the operational issues.

Rodriguez’ No. 1 operational issue for leaving WVU is a potential NCAA violation .

Athletic director Ed Pastilong would not allow Rodriguez to implement the free textbook policy at WVU. From an analytical standpoint, the potential for abuse outweighed the potential benefits by a large margin.

The 1100 Club was created in 2001 to provide WVU football with the necessary funds to recruit on a national level. Rodriguez was instrumental in its conception.

It is funded by donations from alumni and friends. Rodriguez wanted full control over those funds; WVU would not acquiesce to his demands.

The dispute over the use of 1100 Club funds boiled down to the definition of a recruiting expense. Housing and meals were paid for out of the 1100 Club funds.

Rodriguez felt the 1100 Club should not have to pay those expenses. WVU’s finance department felt the 1100 Club should pay those expenses.

All expenses paid by the 1100 Club fell within the parameters of what was described permissible under that 1100 Club.

If the 1100 Club did not pay for housing and meals of potential recruits, who would pay those expenses? Again, WVU was protecting itself from a potential NCAA violation regarding the payment of those expenses.

Rodriguez’ next demand was for increased salaries for assistant coaches, as well as an increase in the number of assistants.

Specifically, Rodriguez wanted to add a recruiting coordinator and up to seven graduate assistant coaches for strength and conditioning.

At its core, this is the most lucid demand on the list. Had Rodriguez listed assistant coach‘s salaries as his only reason for leaving, the validity of the list would not be in question.

However, those additional assistants are at the core of the investigation at Michigan .

It is worth mentioning that Bill Stewart provided enhanced contracts to his assistant coaches upon his promotion to head coach. The funding for those salaries came from a reduction in the salary for the head football coach.

Rodriguez lists a web site potentially funding the assistant coach’s raises and increase in number. It is the web site concept that raises additional concerns.

Texas A&M allowed then coach Dennis Franchione to open his own web site called

The web site charged $1,200 for an insider newsletter that was sent via e-mail. Those insider e-mails included injury reports and names of potential recruits; both are considered violations by the NCAA.

The timing of the Texas A&M scandal is paramount to the Rodriguez web site proposal. The A&M story broke in the spring of 2007, in the middle of negotiations between Rodriguez and WVU concerning the contract he eventually signed.

Again, in retrospect, WVU was applying due diligence to its decisions regarding Rodriguez’ demands. Further investigation was the prudent course of action.

Moving along to the Rodriguez request for the Puskar Center Locker Room renovation, this request is also valid. The irony is that the Puskar Locker Room is now a reality.

WVU chose to wait until the end of the 2007 football season to begin the renovations to the Puskar Center Locker Room. The additional time allowed WVU to acquire and receive all of the necessary donations.

The decision demonstrated sound financial principles considering the financial climate existing at the time, a principle Rich would have been wise to understand and follow in his own real estate investments.

Richard A. Rodriguez has been named in two separate suits centering on non-payment of loans for real estate ventures. One suit concerns a development in Virginia ; the other concerns a similar investment in Alabama .

Rodriguez also demanded enhanced radio/TV/marketing deals to further increase revenue for the football team, at its core a valid goal. However, a complete overhaul of the marketing arm of WVU athletics cannot be undertaken overnight.

Rodriguez outlined a timeline to be followed, that timeline simply was not a realistic assessment to the time needed to create an accurate evaluation of the existing models. Realistic goals are admirable; unrealistic goals are a practice in futility.

As a football coach, Rich Rodriguez possesses a unique perspective seldom seen by fans. That perspective has set Rodriguez apart from his coaching peers.

On the football field, Rodriguez can be unparalleled in his abilities. Unfortunately, that perspective does not always translate to real-world decisions.

A pattern has developed regarding Rodriguez’ decision-making protocols since his resignation from WVU. Prudence does not appear to be part of the Rodriguez decision-making paradigm.

Ed Pastilong’s days as athletic director have reached their end; he will be retained in an emeritus roll. Oliver Luck will now lead the Mountaineer athletic department into the future.

Pastilong’s legacy at WVU will be forever linked to the resignation and subsequent legal drama that was Rich Rodriguez’ departure from WVU. In retrospect, Pastilong was doing nothing but what he was hired to do, protect WVU’s athletic department.

Through good ol' fashion diligence and dedication, Pastilong plied his duties as athletic director. Pastilong protected WVU when people were calling for his head on a silver platter. By his actions, Pastilong is the epitome of duty bound.

In essence, Ed Pastilong, along with his staff, were left to research the inherency of the changes Rodriguez proposed.

For Rodriguez to imply that he was not completely aware of the guidelines regarding additional assistants at Michigan, destroys the credibility of his letter to Mr. Pastilong at WVU.

Which raises the question of depth of knowledge on the part of Rich Rodriguez. Ultimately, it will be the NCAA that will decide whether Rodriguez was truly aware of the specifics regarding the operational issues of the additional quality control members.

Still, an individual would think that having had numerous discussions on the topic at WVU, Rodriguez would have developed an acute understanding of the protocols involved.

For those of you that are keeping track, I am intentionally addressing the high school coach’s $5 fee last.

It was estimated dropping the coach‘s fee would cost WVU $5,000 by Graig Walker in his deposition, I included a link to Mr. Walker's deposition earlier in this article.

Again, Rodriguez displays questionable logic with this demand by listing a $5,000 expense as reason to terminate a multi-million dollar contract.

An individual is left to ponder the concept that, by his letter listing his reasons for resigning, Rodriguez departed WVU because he was not allowed to effect procedural changes that were in potential violation of NCAA guidelines.

The lone NCAA allegation that Michigan is disputing is that Rodriguez failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program.

When the NCAA finished their investigation in Morgantown, I wonder if they left with a copy of the Rodriguez letter to Ed Pastilong.


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