MORGANTOWN - It is tempting to say that West Virginia dodged a bullet with the now-completed NCAA investigation into its football program.
That's not really the case, though.
The truth is there was never much of a bullet there to begin with.
Yes, the school got off almost scot-free Friday when the NCAA issued its final report. In that sense it probably dodged something, but what else did anyone expect? Michigan and Rich Rodriguez had already gone through the process with charges that mirrored those at WVU and received a slap on the wrist.
There's a reason WVU chose to simply go along with the NCAA, agree to the basics of the charges and then debate the minutiae. They'd already seen it done and liked the outcome.
And let's face it, these weren't exactly earth-shaking charges. This wasn't Jim Tressel or Chip Kelly. The only accusations of substance against West Virginia were that graduate assistants and other staffers who weren't supposed to be coaching were, in fact, doing just that. They would oversee winter and summer workouts, watch videotape with players, maybe critique a 7-on-7 drill during the summer.
That was the sum and total of the accusations, along with the requisite accompanying charge that by allowing it Rodriguez, Bill Stewart and the university itself were guilty of allowing those things to happen.
Shoot, and even in that last realm the school came out a winner. The original charge against the two coaches was, as the NCAA puts it, "failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.'' That was really the only charge the school fought, and it won when the NCAA's final report downgraded the charge simply to a "failure to monitor.''
But even that was predictable because the NCAA had done the same with Rodriguez at Michigan when the final findings in that case were released last year.
In the end, West Virginia basically didn't disagree with the NCAA on anything aside from the "failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance'' charge. And even that didn't seem to be much of a sticking point, or at least it doesn't seem so by reading the report.
The NCAA report actually goes to some lengths to distinguish the two charges. It never mentions that in the original allegations Rodriguez and Stewart were both accused of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance. (The school itself was never charged with that, rather the failure to monitor.) But it does attempt to explain the difference.
The report cites a dispute between the school and the NCAA over which bylaw should have been cited regarding that charge. The failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance charge requires that it be proven that a coach not only did that, but also failed to monitor the activities.
"Not only did the staff not allege a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance on behalf of [Rodriguez], the summary disposition report contained no facts that would support such a finding,'' the report reads. "The narrative spoke only to [Rodriguez's] failure to monitor and did not address any failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. Therefore, the proper citation for this finding [is the failure to monitor]."