The first media reaction to the Ann Arbor News article came on WTKA this morning as first weekday morning Sam Webb and former QB Michael Taylor discussed the piece from 9-10am. Those two then joined Jon Bacon (Jamie Morris was off) for Off The Field from 10-noon.
Each guy was in lock step on defending the University and the academic programs at Michigan. Bacon was catching up because he didn’t get his Sunday News delivered to his house (memo to Bacs, log onto MLive.com – this is kind of a big deal).
Their arguments, and I think you’ll hear this all week, are as follows:
– No one is saying there aren’t different standards for athletes for admission to Michigan, it is necessary to maintain top programs.
– Having kids from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds is a good thing, and part of this diversity comes through the athletic programs at Michigan.
– There are many reasons that student athletes struggle and need help, whether it be the rigors of their schedule, a high school that didn’t leave them prepared for a school like Michigan or whatever (see ‘late bloomers’).
– To all these points above, the athletic department has an obligation to help these kids succeed or at least survive at Michigan. It’s best for the kids and for the University (not only on the field, but it furthers the culture of ethnic and socioeconomic diversity at Michigan).
To these points I think Carty and the folks at the News will say that all this is great but there are boundaries to the amount of “help” that the school should provide students. If you cross these lines you are not only potentially violating NCAA rules, you are also hurting the student athletes in the end.
So back to the reaction of the hosts, here’s a portion of Off The Field when caller Ken got former QB Michael Taylor a bit riled up:
I also have the first half hour of the show as well if anyone is interested. It gets the reaction of Bacon, Webb and Taylor.
A couple takes:
– Make no mistake about the timing. Spring practice started this weekend and the News wants to get the maximum impact and follow-on media coverage for the story. Understandable.
– This was Day 1 and the News played their first card: Prof. Hagen. There doesn’t seem to be whole lot there – a man the University has already investigated who is known for his work with socially disadvantaged students and has won many awards for his work. I expect some stronger arguments, examples and witnesses as the story progresses this week.
– Many are crapping on the News on MLive already for running this thing – I say let’s see the rest of the story before going crazy.