Posted at 8:00am -- 6/16/2010
The staff at GBMW wishes to thank you most sincerely for your recent email discussing the Demar Dorsey situation. The letter is viewed by all to be respectful and informative. All of us wish to thank you for your time and informed perspective.
Below is a short “somewhat itemized” response by our staff. It is not meant to be defensive, but at times may seem to be through outside perception, similar to the internals of the Demar Dorsey “situation.” Toward the end will be a suggested “remedy” you may or may not agree with, or be partner to such an effort.
As a preamble know that one of our staff is a former Big Ten professor and visiting professor at a MAC school (six years), who happened to earlier on coach college sports (albeit a much smaller institution than Michigan) and worked frequently with admissions for evaluating the academic standing of recruits and offering judgments to admissions based on data, interviews, and as you mention, plenty of external variables besides grades.
There was quite a bit of advanced reading and discussion before the writing of the article. One thing that came up in a large audience site was the use of on-line (self-directed?) credits for high school courses. It was also stated clearly by many sources that Demar was essentially in an alternative branch of the local educational system, a branch stated as being for students who have not done well in more traditional curricula.
Although stated on several sites, and being aware of his “new curricula,” the call here was to mention the alternative angle and leave out the on-line coursework. Many sources mention the recent “alternatives” for Demar, but only a couple implied or stated he took on-line courses that to scholars might present a viewpoint of a situation of creating a clear chance to “bump grades in an expedient manner.”
All of us understand that Admissions (and other entities) are in a position where a university is bound not to discuss in detail, or even comment on, decisions related to admissions and academic standing. Our former college coach mentioned that he could not even talk to parents when an athlete’s grades were going south. Your implied or explicit view the Dorsey situation is overblown and does not help privacy is correct. Your statement Mr. Lyons that many other students are in difficult admissions circumstances and do not gain a final positive disposition is certainly correct, at every institution, not just Michigan. The non-athletes’ plight indeed does not make national news. Our nation, perhaps with great injustice, has placed athletes in a situation (prying eyes) far different from typical people, leading to different standards of privacy and commentary.
Privacy is indeed in dire straits in this country and the journalistic credo of “Our right to know supercedes your right to exist,” is in full swing with the expectation of instant media information about everything from cockroach endangerment to the size of a hat on a celebrity taking a cruise 5,000 miles away. Simply put, not everyone needs to know everything about everything.
We all totally understand the concept of unacceptable or incomplete circumstances/results/academics/added stipulations/etc. that can hold up or cause refusal for admission. It is understood that grades are not the sole determiner of admission to a powerhouse academic institution (or any higher education venue for that matter). There are indeed variables that may be equal to or actually exceed grades as meaningful criteria for admissions, including behavioral or legal conditions, rigor of curricula work, etc. There are some who have flooded the web with assertions that if Demar met X criteria, admission would be the Y result. Obviously, this was no so.
Any university has the right, assuming that fair play, individual rights, and ethics are all above board, to scrutinize and make an admission decision deemed proper. The perceived or actual rigor of on-line courses and a significant increase in the final ACT score (reported by some) could easily signal an NCAA flag. And many in admissions must have had enough of flags after last year (and perhaps even this year). In short, the question of rigor obviously must be one of the associated factors implied within the content of your communication. The standards of a university are the top priority to its greatest stakeholders, the alumni and faculty.
We all agree that the coaches need to know the risk behind such a recruiting effort and state that it is without merit to constantly state that nothing was known about a recruit’s background. To our former coach, and current coach, having a firm and complete understanding of the candidate supercedes athletic talent.
We all agree that this situation has been likely overplayed and distorted by media of all types and levels (from top national to the smallest blog). We also agree that the conspiracy theories are greatly overextended in scope and accuracy.
There was an attempt to clearly state that all the dots may never be connected. There are several “players” in the created soap opera, some of which have likely simply done their job in a correct and prescribed manner. Most of the arrow pointing has been from the media, not the university, and statements made by AD Brandon clearly support Admissions and university standards. Our staff believes it was proper to offer a disclaimer in our article that there is/was no way the resources or opportunities were available to present a perfect portrait of truth.
Mr. R.E.L., you have graced us with a polite and informed letter, we now wish to offer a possibility of a remedy. The remedy would involve writing a short article essentially stating some of the positions contained in your letter, with no mention made of a source, some “further possibilities from a different perspective” if you will. This could be quickly drafted and sent to you for your opinion as to whether this would serve the truth. One unfortunate truth is that the Dorsey situation has an almost universal perception of being muddled. We agree that blame is not always a mandated condition, sometimes things just happen. Whether muddled or not, this situation could have some ramifications for the future of the program and if there is a small way we at GBMW can help by providing truthful, accurate information, by all means we would be delighted.
The construct most critical for this site is the eventual truth. Certainly, everything is not cut and dried, or black or white. The less information available and the less access to the primary players, the greater the chance of error (which was discussed in the Dorsey article). Blame in this situation (if there truly is blame) will never be quantified precisely. But with the support cast that Michigan has in place it is puzzling to assume great communication and cooperation occurred with the final outcome of this unfortunate situation.
It would do well for many to accept (if so) the reality that this situation was a highly publicized admission decision, done so by proper channel and proper procedure, and not bungled by agenda, conspiracy, factions, etc. Our understanding is this is clearly what you state to be so Mr. R.E.L.. Again, if this site can be of help, the goal is the truth.
Again thank you Mr. R.E.L. for your time and response and we look forward to your opinion as to our suggested remedy.
Written by GBMW Staff
Go Blue -- Wear Maize!