It was the worst kept secret in town: Jim Carty and the Ann Arbor News were investigating the academic practices and policies within the athletic department. What we didn’t know was when or if it would be released.

It’s out and it’ll be released in four pieces starting this morning. To get to this point the News spoke “to athletes and former athletic department employees as part of a seven-month investigation that included interviewing 87 people and reviewing more than 3,500 pages of internal documents”. Here’s the full story.

The News even produced a little video piece talking about today’s article. It’s pretty funny because they ran it as a Q&A but it is an Ann Arbor News guy “interviewing” another Ann Arbor News guy. It’s like me asking my wife this morning, ‘So what did we have for dinner last night?’. Mrs MVictors: ‘Umm, you were there, numbnuts.’

Early this morning a few Michigan bloggers were even notified by MLive that this went to the presses, welcoming the reaction from the nerdosphere. No major reaction from here yet other than, “Thanks for nothing Rodriguez!”. Here’s a summary of the findings presented in Part I:

– Michigan athletes described being steered to [Psychology professor John] Hagen’s courses by their athletic department academic counselors and, in some cases, earning three or four credits for meeting with Hagen for as little as 15 minutes every two weeks.

-Three former athletic department employees said Hagen’s independent study courses are sometimes used by academic support staff to boost the grade point averages of athletes in danger of becoming academically ineligible to compete in sports.

– Athletes have enrolled in independent studies with Hagen several weeks beyond the normal deadline to add classes, which is 21 days after a semester begins. For example, in the winter 2005 semester that began Jan. 5 and ended April 19, two football players enrolled in independent studies with Hagen on March 18.

I’ve got to wade through the stuff the News published today. A couple notes:
– The school of LSA did run an investigation of its own into Hagen in December, the findings here in this report.
– To understand the trigger to the start the investigation, look no further than former QB and current Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh. Read Ed Petykiewicz’s Editor’s Column this morning. While Harbaugh’s comments were the trigger, the University’s response (or lack thereof) really prompted the News to assemble a team to investigate:

It was a significant moment. For the first time in a very long time, one of the most cherished mantras of the athletic department was called into question – and it was done by one of their own, an iconic “Michigan man.”

Harbaugh’s comments opened the door to a possible discussion about whether Michigan is a place where academics come first, or something substantially less.

– In the middle of all this is Sue Shand, ex-wife of former WTKA morning host Dave Shand. She’s the co-director of the Academic Success Program in the athletic department:

An e-mail obtained through a public records request shows Shand, the program’s co-director, working with Hagen or his assistants to set up courses for athletes.

“I have two more students to register for Psych. 218.001 for Fall 07,” Shand e-mailed on Sept. 7, 2007.

Hagen’s reply was partially redacted by the university, but read in part, “I don’t have e-mails for them so have not sent them the appl. forms yet. They can complete them in class. JOHN”

That’s fine, but the News asked Shand’s co-director Shari Acho about these emails:

Asked why Shand would be setting up courses with Hagen for athletes, Acho shrugged.

“You know, I can’t explain it, because I haven’t seen the e-mails,” she said. “I will not do it. It’s standard practice for me. I will not e-mail professors for any of those things.”

Ouch! Burned by your co-director – going to be interesting day in the office on Monday. Acho to Shand: “Looks like someone’s got a case of the Mondays!”

More on this:
Audio from WTKA Sunday morning
– A profile on Professor Hagen published in last year’s M Alumni magazine.

1 Comment

  1. Read the whole AA News article….much to do about nothing in Part 1.