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Although Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh's comments regarding the academics of the Michigan Football program were originally made a couple of weeks ago, the after effects are still being felt.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!