Monday, May 28, 2007

Jim Harbaugh's comments continue to cause shockwaves in A2

Although Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh's comments regarding the academics of the Michigan Football program were originally made a couple of weeks ago, the after effects are still being felt. The Ann Arbor News had extensive coverage of the topic on Sunday, May 27, 2007. Jim Carty did a follow-up article entitled, "U-M needs to address academics to skeptics." John Heuser wrote an article entitled, "Too many breaks for U-M football?" Lastly, there is an another article by Heuser exploring the link between the success of U-M football and enrollment. All three articles are worth a read but some of the more interesting points that can be gleaned therefrom are listed below:
  • Michigan Football accounts for 72 percent of the revenue for the school's self-supporting athletic department, which has a budget of $76.3 million and sponsors 25 varsity teams.
  • According to university records, 3 percent of all undergraduate degrees conferred between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005 were in general studies, which falls under the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts umbrella.
  • The percentage of football players currently on track to receive a general studies degree is much higher. The recently published spring football media guide shows that nearly 82 percent of scholarship players on the 2007 Michigan football team who declared a major have done so in general studies.
  • The four of 22 who did not pick general studies are majoring in psychology, American culture, sociology and sports management and communications, respectively.
  • Michigan Football's Academic Performance Rate, a tool used by the NCAA that evaluates programs based on whether athletes remain in school and whether they remain academically eligible, trails only Northwestern and Penn State among Big Ten schools.
  • According to the most recent NCAA data, the Michigan football team's graduation rate among scholarship athletes over a four-year period is 63 percent. That also puts the Wolverines third in the Big Ten, behind Northwestern and Penn State.
  • One category where Michigan struggles, however, is in graduation rates for black football players. NCAA records show that Michigan graduated 38 percent of its black scholarship players in a four-year span compared with 89 percent of white players.
  • Michigan's graduation rate for black players is tied for seventh in the conference, with Minnesota.
  • In response to Stanford Coach Harbaugh's comments, Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin responded by saying, "I would love to play Stanford. I'd love to play Harbaugh's team ... So would our coaches.'' [You missed the boat on that one Bill. Try again].

In order to help Michigan Football players succeed academically the school has the Academic Success Program run out of the Stephen M. Ross Academic Center. (See my post of March 3, 2007: Michigan Football program achieves on and off the field). Shari Acho and Sue Shand are the co-Directors of The Academic Success Program. Additionally, Mrs. Acho is the Associate Athletic Director/Academic Football Counselor and as such is the person in charge of academics for the University of Michigan Football team.

The University of Michigan's Admissions Director Ted Spencer interviews many of the football recruits personally (after reading about them on http://www.gobluewolverine.com/) and he employs his "lights on" test. Admissions Director Spencer (an avowed Michigan sports fan) was quoted as saying, "I use this thing about lights are on. I need to look you in the eye and talk to you. See if your lights are on.'' The question is whether Spencer's lights are on? No wonder Michigan is admitting student-athletes that even Mrs. Acho cannot get to succeed. The Admissions Director sounds like a disaster.

Michigan proclaims to be "The Leaders and Best." It should strive for that ideal off the field as well as on it. Stanford should not be the only school with engineers who can also tackle. Go Blue!

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7 Comments:

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Sorry, but if you want a winning program, you'll have to live with the fact that many of your athletes just won't graduate and will need massive amounts of help in the classroom to stay eligible. How many BCS bowl game teams have high grad rates? I would guess it's not many.

 
At 9:49 PM, Blogger mzgoblue said...

No need to be sorry Steve. In fact I think you speak for many (if not the majority) with your comment above. However, I REFUSE to "live with the fact...." As I said in my original post, Michigan represents a higher ideal (the Leaders and Best). I will NOT accept mediocrity. I will, however, meet you halfway. I do readily acknowledge that many of the athletes will need "massive amounts of help in the classroom to stay eligible." That is why I wholeheartedly support Shari Acho's efforts with the Academic Success Program at the Stephen M. Ross Academic Center. However, I do not accept that many of the athletes "just won't graduate." That is unacceptable in my opinion and changes need to be made to increase graduation rates especially among African-American scholarship players. As the saying goes, if you keep doing the same things then you will keep getting the same results. Graduation rates need to improve and that will not happen without instituting change. Go Blue!

 
At 12:37 PM, Blogger Steve said...

The leaders and best can be attributed to a time long ago that is a bit different than today.

We both know that College football is big business with millions of dollars involved. They spent millions on the new Ross Center to address the issue of "athlete students" being able to survive the competitive academic atmosphere at UM. Hell, I wish I had the same access to tutors and help when I was at UM.

At the same time, many of the players will take advantage of their scholarship and get an education and a degree.

There will always be some on the football team that have no big interest in their education. College football is a means for them to play a game they love for a high profile uni or to use it as a stepping stone into the $NFL$ should they be lucky and good enough to be drafted.

The larger issue not being addressed is the lousy primary education system that isn't preparing these kids for college in the first place.

The rigors of playing big time DIV 1A football is tough. I don't doubt that. Even tougher is balancing that with classes and homework.

My only point is that we need to be honest about what college football is. I have always advocated paying the players. Put into a fund for them with the understanding that they'll get it after they graduate and only if they graduate. They can't take the whole thing out at once, but it will be an incentive for them to graduate.

If they leave early for the NFL, they get nada.

 
At 5:20 PM, Blogger tkell02 said...

I don't see what the arguement really is. The blog seems to indicate that Michigan is being a disgrace in some way or another. Michigan is one of the top schools in the nation. Many of these players are football players - not doctors. If they meet the requirements and get a degree in something that others view as worthless than more power to them. They still have a degree that they earned from an outstanding academic university. I don't see Stanford winning any National Championships... Maybe we should take a page out of their recruiting book so we can have the success that they have had on the field. Maybe not. It's insulting that the blog end with "Go Blue!" --- GO BLUE!!!

 
At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And ALL of this completely misses the point by assuming that a General Studies degree at Michigan is somehow EASY! I can assure you that as a Michigan Grad with a General Studies degree, who didn't play football and was the valedictorian of his high school, that it is not. Half of your credits must be upper-level and you are not permitted to concentrate more than 1/3 in the same field--meaning that you have MORE challenging classes than most other degrees (Engineering aside) and on a broader range of topics. All the football players I knew (and I was there when we won our last Nat'l Championship) busted their asses to graduate.

 
At 12:35 PM, Blogger Bryan said...

It is really refreshing to read a post like this. So many fans (not only from UM but from all over the country)spend their time defending low graduation rates instead of criticizing them. Some concessions will always be made for admitting student athletes, but that should not mean that it is ok for most of them not to finish. I am not, by an stretch, a fan of your team. I am, however, in complete agreement with your stance on academics. Shame on all of the readers that are willing to defend a system that fails to graduate its athletes. Keep on fighting for excellence in all things.

 
At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You also have to consider however, that players leaving early for the NFL won't finish their degree not to mention after their last year of elig they take a term off to be evaluted by the NFL, and if they make it, they don't come back to finish their degree thus counting against the graduation rate. Just something else to be aware of when considering those #'s.

 

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