- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2009

From combined dispatches

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday that his football program abided by NCAA rules, despite allegations from anonymous current and former players who said the team has practiced far beyond the time allowed.

“We know the rules, and we follow the rules,” Rodriguez said.

At a news conference in Ann Arbor, Rodriguez became emotional and had to gather himself several times with glassy eyes as he denied any wrongdoing.

“I guess I’m here to tell you that whatever you’ve heard or want to believe, the truth is that this coaching staff cares very deeply about the young men in our program,” he said.

The school launched an investigation Sunday into allegations that the football program regularly violates NCAA rules limiting how much time players can spend on training and practice.

The announcement came after a Detroit Free Press article in which players from the 2008 and 2009 teams said the amount of time they spend on football during the season and in the offseason greatly exceeds NCAA limits. The players spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity because they feared repercussions from coaches.

Big Ten compliance officials arrived on campus Sunday to assist with the investigation, according to two people at the school. One person, who spends a lot of time with the team, said the school’s compliance office often makes unannounced visits to make sure the program is following the rules. Both people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the school will not publicly discuss the case until the probe is completed.

VIRGINIA: He still hasn’t named his starting quarterback, but with the Cavaliers’ opener against William & Mary just five days away, coach Al Groh said the good news is that he has three choices he and the team feel good about.

The candidates are incumbent Marc Verica, who started nine games last season; Jameel Sewell, who started for two years before missing last season because of academics; and Vic Hall, a three-year starter in the secondary who broke records as a quarterback in high school.

Groh said he has no timetable for when to name the starter.

UCLA: The university will wait until later in the week to determine whether the wildfires in the Los Angeles hills will postpone the Bruins’ football season opener.

UCLA is scheduled to host San Diego State on Saturday afternoon at the Rose Bowl, which is less than 10 miles south of the fires currently raging in the Angeles National Forest.

SWAC: Commissioner Duer Sharp said all 10 league teams will wear a helmet sticker this season in memory of Steve McNair.

The No. 9 sticker commemorates what McNair did to raise the visibility of the conference while playing at Alcorn State.

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