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January 22, 1990 - Image 13

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-01-22

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Weidenbach
Michigan's representative to the NCAA
convention in Dallas talks about reform

The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday- January 22, 1990 - Page 3

I

Richard Eisen

With former athletic director Bo
Schembechler taking a leave of
absence to accept the president's
job with the Detroit Tigers, Jack
Weidenbach has been named
Interim athletic director by Pres-
ident Dud-erstadt. Daily sports
writer Matt Rennie spoke with
Weidenbach regarding the recent
NCAA convention as well as the
future of Michigan sports.
Daily: Do you think the NCAA
accomplished what it set out to at
the past convention?
- Weidenbach: There were a
number of amendments that were
passed, but a lot of the emphasis
from the media was put on Prop-
osition 30, which was to change the
number of games for basketball and
also to reduce the number of days for
spring practice (for football).
I think the presidents' comm-
ission who sponsored that amend-
ment probably accomplished what
they wanted to do.
. D: Do you agree with the short-
ened basketball schedule?
W: From an athletic admin-
istrator's standpoint, you have to
contend with the fact that when you
shorten the schedule you reduce
revenue, so you are faced with the
problem of trying to support 21
sports when revenues are generated
* primarily from football and also
men's basketball.
But we don't do things just for
money, and what the presidents
wanted to do was to shorten the time
commitment of our basketball stu-
dent-athletes, and they did that.
D: Will that have a more sig-
nificant effect on Big Ten schools,
since after the admittance of Penn
State, it will mean only five non-
conference games?
W: I don't think it would change
the Big Ten round-robin. It does give
you a problem, because we have
exams, and we don't like to compete
during exams, and it may give us
some scheduling problems that we
didn't have before.
Nevertheless, the presidents'
commission believes that (the dis-
advantages) are outweighed by the
fact that student-athletes do not have
to make that time commitment.
D: You mentioned the shortening
of spring football. Do you think
spring football is altogether nec-
essary?
W: When Coach Schembechler
and myself and our:faculty reps met
with President Duderstadt as to how
we should vote on that issue, Bo
made a good strong case for spring
football. As a result, President Dud-
erstadt authorized to vote against
shortening, and we did.
Coach Schembechler, and now
Coach Moeller, believe that if you
eliminated spring football, you
would have to bring the players in
earlier in the fall, probably early in
August. There, if you're teaching
technique and you're in pads if you
do suffer an injury, you don't have
any time to recuperate and players
may miss the whole year. Based on
that injury factor, we believe that
some spring football would be
advantageous for the student-athlete.
D: If the focus is the academic
well-being of the student athlete,
then are these cuts significant
enough to make a difference?

W: Well, again, it's like the
basketball thing. It's probably the
presidents' commission's way of
sending a message to all of us in
collegiate athletics that 'We're going
to be involved in working at
intercollegiate athletics.
D: Proposition 26, which amend-
ed Proposition 42 to say that stu-
dents who don't meet academic
requirements may still receive finan-
cial aid, also received a lot of
attention at the convention. Do you
think that it is fair to the athletes it
affects?
W: We voted against that. We
felt it wasn't a good thing, although
it really doesn't affect us here at
Michigan because we don't really
have very many partial qualifiers, if
any.
D: Do you think first-year
student-athletes should be eligible at
all?
W: That issue is going to be
studied. There are many people that
believe that if freshmen in football
and men's basketball were ineligible
that it would give them that opp-
ortunity to get into their academics
and become more of a part of the
university. I think that's been some-
thing that we would agree with here
if it can be applied on a national
scale.
Then, the issue becomes cloudy.
There are those who say the first
year, they're ineligible, and then
they can only play for three years.
The difficulty with that, of course, is
that nowadays it generally takes five
years to get through school. That
means that you would still have to
be committed to that student-athlete
for a fifth year and they wouldn't be
able to play, which might then
encourage them to leave school and
go pro or something.
That has to be thought out before
you can say 'I'm all for it.' There are
some who say you ought to have
freshmen ineligible and then play
four years. I think you have to think
that one through, and I'm not ready
to say one way or the other. There's
merits on both sides.
D: Will the rule forcing schools
to publish graduation rates have any
effect on Michigan?
W: The NCAA asks that we fill
out forms that are signed by the
president listing our graduation rates.
Those graduation rates are released,
so we don't have any trouble with
that.
What we-do object to, though, is
the way the information is collected
because what it does, in some
situations, is give an unfair grad-
uation rate. What the NCAA does is
check what the individuals did five
years from the time of their enroll-
ment. They either graduated or they
didn't. What that doesn't tell you is
that there are some of those students
who are in good standing and just
decided that they couldn't compete
here and went to another school.
A good example of that is a
young man who caught a touchdown
in the Copper Bowl who used to be
here. He left here because he wasn't
getting any playing time and went to
Arizona. Statistically, he's listed as
a non-graduate because he didn't
graduate from Michigan.
Somebody could decide that they
just don't want to go to school

Us
fectively
tial Score ,

anymore. We've had students here
who come in as freshmen, they're
here a semester, and they get home-
sick. So they leave in good standing,
but it does affect the graduation rate
because they're only measuring who
came in and who went out, without
anything in between. We think that
they ought to keep more accurate
information.
D: What do you think the role of
school presidents should be in terms
of their involvement with athletic
programs?
W: I think that the presidents of
institutions are obliged to know
what's going on in the athletic de-
partment. There's no question around
this institution that the athletic
director reports to the president.
The controversy that seems to be
coming up now is that some athletic
directors are saying that the pres-
idents are going to mess things up. I
don't think that's true.
I do think that they should
consult with their constituents down
here, so they can make good de-
cisions. We know why there's a
university, and it's not for an ath-
letic department.
At least at our place, I think we
have a good relationship with the
'We'll go on running
this department just
as if there were no
'interim' there
because essentially
that's what's been
going on since I've
been down here.'
president. He consults with us, and
we exchange information. I think the
objection to what the commission
was doing this year is that there
wasn't enough consultation.
D: Former Athletic Director Don
Canham told me that outside of the
Big Ten, he felt that a lot of
presidents are intimidated by their
coaches. Is that true?
W: I can only speak about
Michigan, and I can tell you they're
not afraid of the coaches at this
place.
Presidents throughout the country
have political problems. An example
is with reducing expenses. If you
reduce sports, you get all kinds of
complaints.
It puts a lot of pressure on that
chief executive because athletics are
a very tiny part of the entire
institution. Here, it's a 1.6 billion
dollar institution versus a 20 million
dollar athletic budget. Many pres-
idents don't want to jeopardize the
fund-raising and such, so it's a
political decision.
D: Do you favor the idea of
paying college athletes?
W: No, I don't think so. I really
think that if we believe what we're
supposed to around here we can't be
in favor of that.
D: Do you think that it's being

taken seriously on the national
level?
W: I've heard it bandied about,
but I've never heard it on a serious
basis.
D: What are the three most
serious problems facing college
athletics at present?
W: The first problem is that we
have to do something to improve the
image of intercollegiate athletics.
That's very important, because even
though it's a very minor number of
schools that have been involved, it's
still tarnished the image of college
athletics.
The second thing is economics.
How can you afford to have a
comprehensive intercollegiate pro-
gram when essentially the revenues
come from football primarily and
men's basketball?
The third thing is how we can do
a better job servicing the academic
needs and the social needs of our
student-athletes.
D: There's been a lot of changes
here at Michigan in terms of coach-
ing personnel. Do you feel any
pressure to make sure the transition
is a smooth one?
W: I don't feel any pressure
because I think pressure you put on
yourself. At Michigan, you've got a
certain inertia.
Look at football: Coach Moeller
has been a part of that organization
since twenty years ago. So he is a
Michigan man, he's got a Michigan
system, and I don't see that change
presenting any problems whatsoever.
Same with basketball. Steve
Fisher knows what we expect of him
here at Michigan, and we've been
pleased with everything that he's
done.
Bill Freehan has come in under
what are very difficult conditions,
where the (former) coach, we acc-
epted his resignation for what we
feel were serious violations, which
we can't talk about yet, but we will
someday.
Again, Bill is a graduate of
Michigan; he has always had an
interest in this baseball program.
His personal reputation is of honesty
and integrity. It is nice to have him
here. He'll help our program over a
difficult period.
D: Is there any word on when a
new AD will be named?
W: President Duderstadt has asked
me to serve as interim athletic
director without any specific date (for
finding a full-time replacement).
We'll go on running this department
just as if there were no 'interim'
there because essentially that's
what's been going on since I've been
down here.
D: Would you like to see the
interim dropped from your title?
W: I've always answered that
question the same way: the president
makes that decision. I would not
want to put any pressure on the
president by saying that me or
anybody else ought to be the athletic
director. We'll do what has to be
done down here, and let him make
those decisions.

Of hate mail and
Raycom coverage
The only thing worse than the Michigan basketball team's performance
last Saturday was play-by-play announcer/toolkit Ray Lane and the crack
staff of Raycom television.
Lane was annoying from the get go, calling All-Amercian Rumeal
Robinson, "Roomel." Time and time again throughout the first half, Lane
mispronounced the name of one of the most popular players in the
country. Finally, Lane corrected himself later in the game.
Even more irking was Lane's penchant for referring to the Iowa coach
as "Dr. Tom Davis." Obviously, Ray couldn't believe that a coach had the
mental capacity to hold a Ph.D in something. By the way, Davis'
dissertation for his Ph.D was on athletics in colonial Massachusetts and
Virginia. How enthralling.
The rest of the telecast was no better, as instant replays were sparse.
At one point in the game, the Wolverines ran a fast break to perfection
with Loy Vaught slamming one down with authority. We never saw the
replay. We can only hope this network team improves because the
Wolverines have nine more games to play on Raycom this year.
Now to something we haven't seen here in a while: hate mail. Last
week, I criticized the Rose Bowl committee for its incredibly cheesey
slogan for the Parade and game, "A World of Harmony." I also used this as
a vehicle to perform one of my favorite hobbies -jibe the Michigan
Marching Band for playing those wonderful K-Tel megahits, "Malaga" and
"The Peanut Vendor." So, here we go:
Dear Mr. Eisen:
A few minutes ago I finished reading your column (Of Rapturous Joy
at the Rose Bowl 1/15/90)...
The more I reflect upon it, the more revolutionary your column's
premise becomes. Of course, it's stupid for a parade to have a theme, after
all, the floats could be built with no beginning concept, and the prize for
best expression of the theme is pretty ignorant anyway. In fact, floats are
overrated.
You do make a rather good point when you question the need for a
theme since we were all in Pasadena simply to see "a bunch of college
students try to knock the stuffing out of one another." I suppose a column
such as yours which does its best to appeal to a wide range of tastes needs
to include such sweeping statements as this, however, you conveniently
(for you) ignored a significant segment of people who went to California,
not just to see Wolverine football, but to see...gasp!...the Marching Band.
Yes. Call us fanatics, call us fools but some of use were actually
inspired by a band which didn't stroll down the 5 and 1/2 mile parade route
but marched it...Of course, you did make a valid point in your column.
No matter how great the band's performance was, the fact that they did not
revolt to the last man against the staff for daring to pick a well-written,
up-beat piece with a vaguely Spanish name will be a dark cloud above
their heads for years to come. You're right, Rich. They really should have
listened to you.
Well, Mr. Eisen, with the way you rationally supported your criticism
of the Marching Band and Rose Bowl Parade, I can definitely see that these
two institutions are rampant with hypocrisy and therefore deserving of
such treatment in your widely acclaimed column. However, it was your
closing paragraphs which made me thankful that I read your entire column.
After all, if we can't wish Bo well in his new endeavor, we can send him
out in style; trashed by a third-rate sports columnist. A World of
Harmony.
Respectfully,
Christen Lepley
Avid Reader
P.S. Sarcasm, R., Sarcasm.
Well, Christen:
I'd like to hit on two points here. First, I'd like to thank you for your
avid interest in my column, or should I say, widely acclaimed column.
Thank you. Secondly, I'd like to suggest that you seek psychiatric therapy
- fast. Christen, do you actually believe that anyone went out to
California to specifically see the Michigan Marching Band? Oh, honey! I
hear the Band is gonna play "Malaga." We'd better make the plane
reservations right away. Really, Miss Lepley, this letter of yours sounds
like a desperate cry for help. We, at the Daily can help you, but you have
to help yourself first. For instance, ask yourself: I wonder how many fans
went home dejectedly after the Band forgot to play "The Peanut Vendor?"
If the answer is "lots and lots, Rich," then you must seek help. You see,
you conveniently (for you) neglected to mention that the Marching Band
happens to be a pleasant diversion in Pasadena, not the main event. Look,
this thing has gone on long enough and some of you people still don't get
my drift. I like the Band a lot. I'll never forget the first time I saw them
high step into the stadium. But, I'm sick of the Marching Band toadying
to these blue-haired alumni that give lots of money when they hear these
boring songs. The new Revelli Hall looks beautiful; I bet they add a new
wing every time they play "Malaga." All I'm saying is this: The
Marching Band should represent the students more than alumni and the
song selection should reflect that.
_i y______________ i

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