The husband of the Shari Acho, the co-director of the Michigan Athletic Department’s “Academic Success Program”, unleashed on former QB Jimmy Harbaugh today via the Sports Review Magazine website. In the piece, James Acho takes shots at Harbaugh and does mention his wife’s key role in the athletic department.

If Harbaugh’s statements about steering athletes down lighter academic paths are true, Shari Acho would have a key role (along with Sue Shand, the ex-wife of former WTKA morning host Dave Shand..I can’t shake the guy!) in fulfilling the process. The other part of Harbaugh’s shot at the AD’s office was how Michigan turned its back on players once they left the program. I don’t know the specifics of the Academic Success Program or of its role post-playing days but anyway you slice hit Harbaugh’s words hit folks on State Street pretty hard.

Some of James Acho’s shots are below the belt. He features a couple images to make light of Harbaugh’s 2005 DUI arrest, and includes a photo of Harbaugh’s wallet that he apparently left behind at a bar a few months ago.

To show that he isn’t purely bitter at Harbaugh, Acho does acknowledge that Jim is a world-class pretty boy:

I’ve met Jim Harbaugh before, at a coaching clinic, and he is a nice guy. Handsome sonofagun, too. If Tom Cruise had been a real-life football player, he’d have been Harbaugh, I imagine.

He’s a handsome man but I think everyone needs to take a cold shower.

Ann Arbor News columnist Jim Carty probably received the same email that I did which annouced the publication of Acho’s piece on Sports Review Magazine’s website. Carty wasted no time in criticizing Acho on his blog and asks why his wife won’t answer some direct questions about Harbaugh’s claim. Carty goes as far as posting the specific questions he’d ask of James’s wife Shari Acho:

Among the questions we’d like to ask Shari Acho are the following:

– Why does Michigan have 29 junior and senior football players clustered in the general studies major when a peer university such as Notre Dame has a much more diverse group of majors among its football players?

– Has the university done any follow-up five, 10 and 15 years down the road to find out whether players who have graduated with general studies degree are satisfied with the opportunities that degree has led to?

– Do players really walk into her office and ask to major in general studies, or does she or someone else in academic support regularly suggest the major or preach its positive, potentially football-friendly, features in such a manner as to lead players to believe it’s their best option at Michigan?

– Why has Michigan graduated fewer than 4 of 10 black athletes over the most recent four-year period measured by the NCAA? How much has this issue been studied and what’s being done to improve performance in this area?

The football program generates tens of millions in revenue for the University of Michigan and Shari Acho plays a key role in keeping that enterprise on course. She has a responsibility to Michigan fans, potential players, and the parents of those potential players to address concerns about these issues.

Some folks have already commented on Carty’s blog that JC just drop it. I say why? Yes, everyone knows that athletes get certain treatment but why can’t Carty ask a few questions such as those above? Doesn’t Michigan push its academics in living rooms during the recruiting process? What do they tell those parents? Hopefully there is a good story – let’s hear it.

1 Comment

  1. 1) of the 47 JR/SR listed on ND’s roster, about 14 of them are majoring in Psych, Sociology, or something called Film, Television, and Theater. several of the players have actually graduated and are in “graduate studies”, so we’re looking at probably about 35-40% of the declared ND student athletes taking “easier” majors. also, as far as I can tell, ND does not have an equivalent to the BGS degree, although they do tout 23 interdisciplinary undergrad programs (like Michigan’s ICP or GS? not sure).

    2) this would be interesting to find out. someone at the athletic department should get on this (beyond what was in rivals (i think – per mgoblog?) recently).

    3) interesting to note, although it seems the implicit assumption made by the critics is that General Studies is a blowoff program that any lunkhead can pass. my understanding is that this is a real major that requires actual work. maybe it was unfortunately named, but it’s probably no more of a blowoff major than are psych, communications, or sociology.

    4) a little unfair in that JC uses the exhausted eligibility rate (ie, 4-year grad %), which is the lowest. in case anyone is wondering, 4-year grad % is for those that entered in ’99 and graduated by august 2005, which is the point at which eligibility as a student athlete expires. this does not take into account transfers,early entries into the NFL, or other reasons for not completing a degree in that timeframe (medical reasons, religious missiones, etc), regardless of academic standing. take into account those factors and you only get 45%, you might say. but look at the sample size. it’s only 11-15 students. so you’re saying that only 5 of 11 graduated in 6 years. ok, so let’s investigate the other 6 (!) and figure out why they didn’t graduate. but, it doesn’t exactly seem like a terrible systemic problem. there are known students that were kicked off the team for academic reasons. i don’t know how they handle kids kicked off the team (or out of school) for criminal issues, but i would guess they’d factor in.

    honestly, i think it could be beneficial for Michigan to respond officially, although i can see why they don’t. they’re taking the indignant approach, not dignifying those comments with a response, not wanting to even give the perception of mudslinging. i see that the Cal administration is also silent in regards to Harbaugh’s (and the other critics’) comments.

    some of those questions are at the very least interesting. i have to give JC a little more credit than the hack job Pat Forde did.

  2. Pingback: Meal Worm: Robinson spills the beans