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UCF's football training policies under eye of 'The Cleaner,' lawyer Michael Glazier
Lee Corso knew he could trust Michael Glazier the first time he shook his hand.
Corso was coaching at Indiana University and recruited Glazier, a quarterback at Northeastern Oklahoma Junior College, to join his team in 1973.
"You could tell right away that Mike was a quality human being," Corso said. "I knew he would be a very good leader for our team and would go on to do something really special in life. He had integrity."
Glazier has built a career based on that integrity, working as an attorney who specializes in representing universities facing penalties for NCAA infractions. He has been referred to as "The Cleaner," a man who can help schools atone for all manner of NCAA rules-violation sins.
Glazier is reviewing UCF's football training policies following the death of freshman wide receiver Ereck Plancher in March and hospitalization of Brandon Davis in December. Both players collapsed during offseason conditioning drills and questions were raised about the action taken by the UCF staff in response to their problems.
"I think within the next few weeks, we will have a report from Michael," UCF Athletic Director Keith Tribble said Monday in an interview on 1080-AM. "David Chambers, our executive associate athletic director for the university, has been working with Michael, monitoring his progress. And he feels definitely by the end of March, he could have some sort of report for us. At least that's what we're shooting for."
Glazier declined an interview request by the Sentinel, saying he didn't think it was appropriate to discuss an ongoing review. He said he expects to discuss his findings when his work is completed.
"I have received outstanding cooperation from UCF during my review and am comfortable with the access and information I have been provided," Glazier said in a statement released by UCF. "I am satisfied with the progress made so far, though as I said in December there is no deadline for the review to be completed."
UCF's case is different than those Glazier typically handles. School officials emphasized they have no reason to believe UCF has violated any NCAA rules but want to know if they need to improve football athletic training practices to protect athletes.
While university presidents and athletic directors praise Glazier, he is no favorite among coaches. Glazier emphasizes the importance of disclosing any hint of impropriety and taking swift disciplinary action — with coaches often finding themselves in his crosshairs. The logic is if a university has already imposed tough penalties, it is a sign the school takes the problems seriously and should not face more punishment.
Former Pitt football coach Mike Gottfried once told Sports Illustrated, "Glazier does a horrible job. If Glazier says it, then the NCAA concludes it happened. Nobody oversees him. He's like a bounty hunter."
Gary Roberts, a sports attorney and professor at Indiana University's Indianapolis campus, said Glazier's job is to protect the school.
"He's controversial because he will do things that people sometimes think are not nice," Roberts said. "His client is the school and sometimes it's in the interest of the school — at least this is how it's perceived — to sacrifice a coach, to sacrifice a booster, to sacrifice a professor to improve the school's standing with the NCAA. That draws criticism, but he does a great job representing his client."
UCF Coach George O'Leary said in December he would cooperate with Glazier's investigation. "I certainly do welcome a third party coming in, and I'm anxious to see what that says myself [about the school's training practices]," O'Leary said.
University spokesman Grant Heston said Glazier is charging $290 per hour for his review. Heston said UCF would likely release the full cost of the review when Glazier's work is completed.
Glazier didn't seem destined to become the big man on campus for athletic departments in need of legal assistance.
He spent most of his senior season at Indiana on the bench and signed a free-agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1975, but he was cut during the preseason and headed to law school at John Marshall in Chicago.
Corso encouraged Glazier to contact the NCAA after he earned his law degree, and Glazier ended up working as an infractions investigator from 1979-86.
While he was at the NCAA, Glazier developed a relationship with current Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive. The duo set up the Slive/Glazier Sports Group in Chicago. They moved the firm to Overland Park, Kan., in 1990 and later joined the higher education department of Bond, Schoeneck and King.
"They really created something nobody else had done before and made a great business out of defending schools facing serious trouble with the NCAA," Roberts said. "They understand NCAA rules very well and know how the entire college athletics system works, which is very important because it's not at all like a typical court."
Glazier has been involved in some of the most high-profile NCAA cases of the past 20 years. He represented Iowa in 1986 when the football program was involved in major recruiting violations, Florida State in 1994 following allegations players accepted gifts from agents and Minnesota following academic fraud charges in the basketball program in 1999.
Villanova Athletic Director Vince Nicastro hired Glazier in 2002 when Villanova basketball was being investigated.
"I felt like he was always looking to do the right thing," Nicastro said. "He was never going to try to skirt an issue or wiggle our way out of a rules issue. He always wanted to get truth. That's what you'll always get when you hire him. You'll always get the truth."
The university admitted to a series of basketball recruiting violations and self-imposed several sanctions. The investigation spanned 22 months and the school avoided the loss of any scholarships.
"It was tough, but we always felt Mike was there to lead us in the right direction," Nicastro said. "He really helped us understand the process and took care of us."
Iliana Limón's Knights Notepad blog on UCF sports can be read at OrlandoSentinel.com/knightsnotepad and she can be reached at email@example.com.
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