Rodriguez spokesman denies coach destroyed files
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Rich Rodriguez's representative last night denied reports that certain documents were missing from the West Virginia athletic department, where officials launched an investigation into computer files Rodriguez supposedly shredded or destroyed while emptying his office before leaving for Michigan.
Both newspapers in Charleston, W.Va., the Gazette and Daily Mail, reported yesterday that Rodriguez cleaned out files relating to the former coach's seven years with the Mountaineers, including information on summer camps, recruiting, scholarships, player classroom and weight-room performances, player contact information and booster data. The staff has been unable to locate the information since returning from the Fiesta Bowl.
Mike Brown, Rodriguez's agent, said that specific allegations about Rodriguez removing or destroying materials "will be addressed at the appropriate time in the lawsuit process."
Brown refuted some accusations in the stories about information completely vanishing.
"Rich never kept any players' personal files," Brown said, adding that the computers in the coach's office and at a secretary's desk at the Puskar Center kept many of the same files.
Concerning data about contact information, scholarships and academic or team conduct, Brown added: "I would imagine the original of those would be in the academic office and the compliance office. If [a player] broke a rule or missed a class, I would sure hope the academic office has that.
"If they don't have the originals, I think West Virginia has some serious institutional-control issues."
Brown added that Rodriguez's Mountaineers computer remains in the office occupied by his replacement, Bill Stewart, and that electronic copies should be found on its hard drive. As for records kept by strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis, Brown rebutted the allegation in the Gazette that photographs of Mountaineers had disappeared as well. Brown said no such photos were taken by Barwis, one of six coaches and five graduate assistants who joined Rodriguez at Michigan.
Barwis' reports about individual Mountaineers' progress in speed and strength were given to each assistant coach, three of whom remain on West Virginia's staff.
"Barwis didn't solely keep those, he forwarded them in hard-copy form to each of the assistant coaches," Brown said. "Unless the assistant coaches threw it away, it should still be there at West Virginia."
The Board of Governors filed a lawsuit in Monongalia County Circuit Court last month, alleging that the former Mountaineers coach breached his contract and asking a judge to rule on the contracted $4 million buyout, of which Rodriguez is due to owe one-third this week. Rodriguez's camp is expected to file its answer to the lawsuit in the next week.
Athletic department spokesman Michael Fragale said: "We are investigating that files are missing from the Puskar Center. We will not have additional comment until the investigation is completed."
Rodriguez declined comment, but a statement from Brown said: "West Virginia University decided to file a lawsuit against Rich Rodriguez. While certain individuals have made a decision to take this public, coach Rodriguez has withheld making any comments until the appropriate time in regards to this legal process."
Asked in a telephone message and e-mail to specify if the school had a policy on record retention, the university's legal counsel didn't respond yesterday.
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NOTES -- Penn Hills native and West Virginia alumni Dave Johnson, Georgia's tight ends coach, has interviewed for the offensive line coach position. The Daily Mail reported three recently ousted offensive line coaches also are candidates: Paul Dunn of Pitt, Paul Boudreau of the St. Louis Rams and John Matsko of the Kansas City Chiefs.
First Published January 16, 2008 12:00 am