Apparently there are some improprieties in Ann Arbour where the University of Michigan has run one of the cleanest programs in NCAA history.
More than a dozen players and parents alike, insisting on anonymity, described the workouts as "ridiculous" and far in excess of the NCAA’s hourly limits, especially on Sundays following games ("Sundays were miserable") and throughout the offseason. One player, incoming freshman Je’Ron Stokes — not requesting anonymity, the Free Press said, because he wasn’t complaining and apparently wasn’t aware of the rules — said "a typical week is working from 8 a.m. in the morning to 6 or 7 at night, Monday through Saturday," which if true would be break the weekly eight-hour limit in the offseason seven or eight times over. In addition to that, perceived slackers and other wayward players were singled out for pre-dawn work on "Torture Tuesdays." Coaches were also accused of observing seven-on-seven scrimmages and taking attendance, both strictly verboten for what are supposed to be "voluntary" activities.
Of course this isnâ€™t just about Michigan, this is about the fact that NCAA Division I football is big business and a full time job to players.
But the broader implication isn’t about the changing culture at Michigan as much as it is the longstanding culture at all big football schools, where the notion of "voluntary" workouts and hourly limits have been met with winks for years. A survey of Division I athletes last year revealed the reality: Time limits or not, big-time football everywhere is a full-time job that consumes vastly more hours than the NCAA officially sanctions — and has to be, if the competition is putting in the same work. That players will "voluntarily" go above and beyond the proscribed limits is taken for granted. (It hardly seems like a coincidence that at least 20 college players have collapsed and died following offseason workouts in the last decade, which was practically unheard of even under old school sadists like Bear Bryant.) Coaches follow the letter of the law at the peril of their records and their jobs.
Which of course begs the question why are sending these players to school in the first place, to be atheletes or students. On my say that the Canadian Major Junior Hockey model is a lot more honest, you play your hockey first and if you donâ€™t go to the pros (and even if you do), you get a year of university (or trade school) paid for when you are done. Donâ€™t even hide the fact that this is not a full time gig and drop the student from student athlete. It evens the playing field for schools like Notre Dame which do enforce the rules which the Michigans who do not.