September 01, 2009
It's never a good time to have your own players alleging possible NCAA violations in the local newspaper, but now we have another idea why Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez looked like a man with the world closing in on him during his weepy press conference on Monday -- according to AnnArbor.com, Rodriguez is also being sued for his role in a real estate investment outside Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium:
One of five guarantors for a proposed 80-condominium gated community called The Legends of Blacksburg, Rodriguez and his partners allegedly owe Nexity Bank $3.9 million, including interest and penalties.
Rodriguez was served a summons and complaint in his football office at 5:27 p.m. on Aug. 24, court papers show.
[...] According to court filings, The Legends of Blacksburg, LLC, signed a loan promissory note for $26.1 million in September 2007, when Rodriguez was coach at West Virginia. In an addendum a year later, the loan obligation was reduced to $3.6 million. It matured in May and is collecting interest at $933 a day, according to complaint.
Michigan State fans, predictably, have done their part by posting documents here, here and here. As if rebounding from a 3-9 debut on the field with a true freshman quarterback wasn't enough: All of a sudden, this is a man under pressure.
As with all legal matters, there's another side to the story: Rodriguez's financial advisor, Mike Wilcox, said Rod is a victim of a Ponzi scheme that attracted "several other coaches and prominent individuals" at its inception in 2004; the Web site for the development includes a letter from Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer inviting visitors to "live among legends" and a sponsorship from Beamer's official Web site.
But Beamer's name does not appear in any of the complaints, nor does that of any other coach. A cursory Google search of Rodriguez's co-defendants -- Ronald West, Floyd Elliott, Lamar Greene and Jeffery Greene -- comes up completely empty except in relation to the suit against Rodriguez. AnnArbor.com reports that 62 of the 80 condos, starting at $350,000 apiece, have been reserved; you can check the planned location of the development against Google Maps.
Here's the thing, and it's the same thing that accompanies accusations of NCAA violations, which will continue to sting in this case despite their increasingly dubious validity: The series of "scandals" against Rodriguez dating back to his departure from West Virginia are beginning to add up fast, whether any of them actually stick individually. In roughly a year-and-a-half, Rodriguez has been accused of shredding documents, sued for $4 million by his former employer, accused of flouting limits on practice time and now sued for defaulting on a large loan. At some point, whether or not there's any fire to the smoke ceases to be relevant, and the dots begin to connect themselves; there's an e-mail in my inbox now asking how the absurd flap over shredded documents last summer might somehow be relevant to the workout scandal. (It's not, but that question wasn't being asked a week ago.)
Under some circumstances, smoke is just smoke and is easily waved off as such. When you're coming off your school's worst season in recent memory and staring at another "rebuilding" year, though, the questions have a way of finding the ears of people who actually matter.
[UPDATE, 12:49 p.m. ET] Turns out there is at least one other coach in the suit: E-mailer Josh points out that Ronald West is currently co-defensive coordinator at Tulsa, and was at one point in line to join Rodriguez's staff in West Virginia.