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University Athletics, Academics, and Lack of Congruence: The Role of Faculty Richard Wolfe Brock University


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Title: University Athletics, Academics, and Lack of Congruence: The Role of Faculty Richard Wolfe Brock University

University Athletics, Academics, and Lack of
CongruenceThe Role of FacultyRichard
WolfeBrock University
The Context
  • The positive ..
  • The not so positive ..
  • http//

How Can This Be Tolerated Over So Many Years
  • Back to
  • University Athletics, Academics, and Lack of
    Congruence The Role of Faculty

  • Vision/Mission
  • The University of Michigan will continue to
    define the great public university of the world.
  • We will move Michigan to a new level of
    excellence by
  • building on its distinctive academic strengths
  • while recognizing new areas of opportunity and
    societal need.

Vision/Mission (cont.)
  • Each of our units, schools and colleges will use
    these principles to inform their future choices
  • We will sustain academic excellence
  • We will foster active engagement
  • We will build collaborative learning communities
  • We will create greater access to Michigans
    academic quality

Vision/Mission (cont.)
  • The presidents office has identified special
    programs that complement the work happening
    across campus as we sustain our excellence and
    deepen the Michigan Difference
  • Support the development of multi-disciplinary
    paired courses and other team-teaching
    initiatives across departments and
  • Explore the creation of a center for the study
    of ethical issues in the public domain
  • Create a University of Michigan prototype for
    new approaches to rational and affordable health
  • Renovate, reconnect, and expand residential life
    on campus

U of M AthleticsVision/Mission
  • Academic and Athletic Excellence
  • We serve young people who aspire to succeed at
    the highest levels of both academic and athletic

My Relevant Classroom Experience
  • 2000
  • Declared majors 70
  • Started in Kin 43
  • Degree SM 30
  • (these nos. are approximate)

  • I noticed that there was a meaningful difference
    in academic commitment across students.
  • There was a meeting among Kinesiology faculty and
    Athletics coaches and administrators in the
    Spring of 2001.

  • I stated there that to the extent to which there
    are problems .. a relevant ratio is 95 5.
  • I had noticed that there was a meaningful
    difference in academic commitment across
  • a subset of SA did not seem motivated.
  • Richard Wolfe

  • You know Richard I am pleased none of those
    students are football players
  • Many people in this room have been stereotyped.
  • I would hate to be stereotyped
  • The rest of the meeting was about the negative
    effects of stereotyping.

  • I took the initiative, subsequent to that
    meeting, to meet with Lloyd Carr.
  • Im glad you called I was going to call you
  • We discussed suggestions that are in the best
    interest of Michigan football players.
  • We agreed on two initiatives.

Faculty Presentation to the Football Team
  • I would organize a group of faculty to make a
    presentation to the football team to provide the
    student-athletes with the faculty's perspective
    of academics at Michigan.
  • The focus would be on how exciting academics can
  • I was confident that such a meeting would
    contribute to the motivation of some students.
  • Four faculty (three from Sport Management, one
    from the B-School) made a presentation to the
    football team in Aug. 2001.
  • All the feedback received concerning that session
    was very positive.

  • As stated in the AA News story of March 17, 2008
    (Kinesiology reserves slots for University of
    Michigan athletes)
  • Jay Basten said he and his former colleague
    Wolfe used to argue about whether Michigan could
    admit academically better-prepared students who
    were still top-shelf athletes.
  • Wolfe said yes, it was a matter of applying a
    more research-oriented approach to recruiting.
  • AE2 was the research-oriented approach.

  • The objective of AE2 was to determine how
    Michigan could successfully recruit students who
    were both Academically and Athletically

Follow-up message to Lloyd Carr
  • The Academic Excellence/Athletic Excellence
    Research Project
  • We discussed an approach to recruiting that only
    a Michigan could undertake, given its across the
    board excellence (most particularly in academics
    AND athletics). We discussed this while looking
    at a normal distribution of the academic
    potential of recruits.
  • The basic argument is that, while there are
    relatively few potential recruits who are elite
    athletes and elite students, Michigan has
    relatively few competitors (e.g., Stanford,
    Northwestern, California) in recruiting those
    student athletes.

Follow-up (cont.)
  • We finished this discussion with you saying
    something to the effect of if you can show us
    how to do it (i.e., get the students at the
    right-hand end of the normal distribution)Id be
    pleased to look at it.
  • John Jones of the Business School and I have an
    approach to determine how to successfully recruit
    the kids who are Elite both Athletically and
    Academically. It is based on a model used in the
    corporate sector to achieve customer satisfaction
    and loyalty.

  • The AE2 project was started with the cooperation
    of both the football and basketball programs.

Academic Excellence/Athletic Excellence
Illustrative Study Results
  • What follows is an illustration of the use of
    satisfaction modeling methods in a collegiate
    athletic setting.
  • The sample is a group of 56 anonymous athletes.
  • The goal is to predict their choice (which school
    to attend) based on their recruiting experience.

Project Goals
  • Broadly to determine how to successfully recruit
    student-athletes who are elite students as well
    as elite athletes.
  • More specifically to determine what it is that
    drives the ultimate decision (choice of
    university) of elite student-athletes.

  • Qualitative
  • Interviews to develop the lens of the recruit
    this allows us to determine what benefits and
    attributes (e.g., of the recruiting process, the
    coach, the university) determine the recruits
    ultimate decision.
  • Quantitative
  • A survey to determine the relative importance of
    the attributes ascertained in the qualitative

The Lens of the Recruit
National Exposure
Campus Visit
Distance from Home
Satisfaction with the Process
Strength of Relationship
Playing Opportunity
Survey Measures (examples)
  • Education
  • Interest in academic success
  • Academic support systems for athletes
  • Academic reputation
  • Ability to graduate in four years
  • Campus Visit
  • Intimacy of campus atmosphere
  • Ability to establish relationship with future
  • Ability to establish relationship with faculty
    and staff
  • Overall quality of official campus visit

Survey Measures (examples)
  • Coaches
  • --
  • --
  • --
  • Communication
  • --
  • --
  • Playing Opportunity
  • --
  • --

National Exposure
Campus Visit
Distance from Home
Satisfaction with the Process
Strength of Relationship
Playing Opportunity
What drives choice of school?
  • Believing that things were progressing very well
    on both fronts, I attempted to communicate with
    Lloyd Carr in the Spring of 2002 to schedule our
    second "Faculty-Football Team" session.
  • I attempted to communicate via a number of e- and

  • e-mail sent January, 2002
  • Hello Coach Carr,
  • I have been making good progress on the Academic
    Excellence/Athletic Excellence recruiting
    research we discussed with you last July.
  • Over the Fall term we focused on a parallel study
    in basketball and are ready to start the football
    component of the study. we wanted you to be
    aware that interviews will start within the next
    couple of weeks. Charles Kuns has supplied a
    very adequate list of student athletes for the

  • We would be very pleased to meet if you have any
    questions at all concerning the project, or would
    like to hear how the basketball element of the
    study has gone.
  • Also, since the Fall term is over, if you like,
    we could discuss whether our meeting with the
    team prior to the season to discuss academics had
    any effect. John and I would be very pleased to
    address other ways that our common educational
    goals can be met.
  • So Coach, while we dont see a need to meet, we
    would be very pleased to do so--if you like.
  • All the Best for 2002,

  • There were a number of similar messages, many
    focusing on the anticipated 2002 Faculty-Football
    Team presentation.

  • e-mail sent July, 2002
  • Hi Susan,
  • As discussed over the phone a little while ago,
    there are two issues I would like to discuss with
    Coach Carr
  • 1) preliminary results of the "Academic
    Excellence-Athletic Excellence" recruiting
    project I have been working on with John Jones.
    We will have preliminary results to present by
    August 6. After discussing the preliminary
    results we would like to know Coach Carr's
    interest in our pursuing this project.

  • 2) last August a group of Faculty members
    discussed academics with the football team. We
    would like to know if coach Carr would like us to
    do something similar this year. If that is the
    case, we have some preparing to do to see that
    our message is having the desired affects.
  • Please advise if Coach Carr would like to meet on
    the above issues and if so, what some potential
    meeting times are.
  • Thanks very much Susan,
  • Richard

  • I never did hear from Lloyd Carr.
  • I was told (by a third party), however, that I
    was no longer to be involved in any
    "Faculty-Football Team" session that might be
    held, because
  • a number of football players had failed my class
    the previous Fall.

Some Thoughts
  • If I was the cause of student-athletes failing a
    course, and/or
  • if there was a concern about the education of
    those student-athletes,
  • someone would contact me concerning that.
  • I heard nothing about the students' education or
    about the "Faculty-Football Team" session,
  • which was initiated for the benefit of the

  • Fast forward to Spring 2007
  • Jim Harbaugh, the new coach at Stanford, made
    some comments at media day that created
    significant controversy.
  • Harbaugh had starred for three seasons at
    Michigan during the 1980s he
  • led the team to a Rose Bowl
  • was picked in the NFL Draft's first round
  • had a very solid career in the NFL, becoming
    known as Captain Comeback.

  • At media day, Harbaugh told The San Francisco
    Examiner that Michigan admitted athletes who were
    borderline academically, and then steered them
    into less-challenging courses to keep them
    eligible (i.e., Sport Management, then General
  • "Michigan is a good school, and I got a good
    education there," Harbaugh said.
  • "But the athletic department has ways to get
    borderline guys in and, when they're in, they
    steer them to courses in sports communications.
  • They're adulated when they're playing, but when
    they get out, the people who adulated them won't
    hire them."

  • "As great as the institution is at Michigan, I
    think it should be held to a higher standard,"
    Harbaugh said.
  • "I don't think it should cut corners that
    dramatically for football and basketball players.
    I love the university. I got a tremendous
    education there (but)
  • the compromises are too much. I think everybody
    knows that.
  • You pretty much have to have your head in the
    sand if you don't know that."

Some Facts that Emerged
  • 3 percent of all undergraduate degrees conferred
    at Michigan are in General Studies.
  • 82 percent of scholarship players on the 2007
    football team who declared a major have done so
    in GS.
  • Michigan football team's graduation rate among
    scholarship athletes over a four-year period is
    63 percent.
  • One category where Michigan struggles 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

  • in response, AD Bill Martin said
  • I think we're all proud of the fact that we're
    at an outstanding school for academics and

  • These occurrences of Spring 07 reminded me of my
    experiences with Lloyd Carr approximately 5 years
  • Harbaughs statements certainly rang true with
  • I then wondered what, if anything, to do.

  • This was/is a compelling CASE, one that clearly
    indicates the hypocrisy of stating that U of M
    has values to
  • sustain academic excellence
  • and address
  • ethical issues in the public domain
  • and
  • that UofM Athletics
  • aspire(s) to succeed at the highest levels of
    both academic and athletic performance

  • I considered contacting the AA News, which was
    covering the Harbaugh controversy on an ongoing
  • I decided to stay in-house and sent an
    e-message to AD Bill Martin
  • it was quite explicitoutlining what had occurred
    to my initiatives,
  • And how Harbaughs concerns rang true.
  • His response, ignored the essence of my message
    it was
  • essentially dont worrybe happy

  • I then contacted the AA News.
  • In spite of my advocacy for, what I believe is a
    compelling, story, one that would truly engage
    the reader, and
  • clearly indicate the hypocrisy of U of M and U of
    M Athletics values of academic excellence within
    and without athletics,
  • the story of my initiatives was not part of the
    AAN series.

  • "It is essential for universities to establish
    their own priorities, objectives and principles
    for college sports.
  • Higher education must then commit itself to
    holding fast to these objectives in the face of
    the enormous pressure exerted by the media and
    the public at large.
  • In the end, college athletics must reflect the
    fundamental academic values of the university.
  • There is no acceptable alternative if we are to
    retain our academic values and integrity'
  • (James Duderstadt, U-M president emeritus)

  • In the spirit of Value Co-Creation,
  • I invite thoughts and questions concerning my
  • any thoughts re next moves, if any??
  • any thoughts re theoretical concepts that might
    explain what occurred?

  • Relevant Theoretical Perspectives
  • -Mission/vision
  • OE (at its most basic)
  • -Ethics/CSR
  • -Leadership
  • -RBV
  • -Power
  • -Stakeholder management
  • Others ..

  • Thanks very much for your patience
  • I look forward to continuing this important
    dialogue with you.