MORGANTOWN - West Virginia apparently has violated another NCAA rule regarding its football program, and this time Rich Rodriguez isn't involved at all and the issue isn't in the distant past.
On the first two days of fall practice Saturday and Sunday, some West Virginia players wore a type of protective vest under their jerseys, along with helmets. NCAA rules stipulate that helmets are the only protective equipment permitted on those days.
WVU assistant athletic director for communications Mike Fragale said Tuesday that the school was aware of the violation and will report it to the NCAA.
"We are aware that some players were wearing vests during the first two practice days,'' Fragale said in a prepared statement. "We are exploring further, will declare a secondary infraction and document [it] through the appropriate process.''
By itself, the violation would appear to be extremely minor in nature. However, it comes just days after the NCAA issued a charge of five major and one secondary violation against the football program that included charges that the athletic department - as well as former coach Rodriguez and current coach Bill Stewart - failed to monitor aspects of the program. The coaches are further accused of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.
Regardless of how minor this violation is, it still seems to fit the original charges.
The violation centers around the use of what are referred to as "shock vests" or "spider pads." The infraction is clear in several photos published in newspapers and on the Internet from WVU's first two practice days.
The pads are lightweight with some amount of light padding, but are worn under regular shoulder pads and are in no way meant as a substitute for them.
Still, NCAA rules say that during the first two days of practice, the only protective equipment permitted is helmets. On the two days that follow that, helmets and shoulder pads are allowed. On the fifth day, full pads and full contact are permitted.
Also, in regard to the NCAA's prior investigation of West Virginia, the school Tuesday said that it would respond to the NCAA on those charges in 90 days, rather than 76. That means the earliest a hearing could be held before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions is next February, rather than this December.
According to a school statement, the university was prepared to go with the expedited time schedule (76 days to respond to the charges), but the NCAA told the school that it would have to go with the normal 90 days.
The school did not say so, but it is believed that a third party in the investigation was unwilling to agree to the 76-day response window. In addition to WVU and Stewart, Rodriguez is also charged with violations while at West Virginia and would presumably have to respond to those. He is facing similar and additional NCAA charges at his current school, Michigan.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.