Page 10- The Michigan Daily-Thursday, April 19,1990
There I was: standing and cheer-
ing at the pep rally celebrating
Michigan's men's basketball nat-
ional championship last year.
As I applauded the basketball
players, three swimmers and a runner
- all Michigan athletes who had
won national championships - I
couldn't help but notice the football
team kneeling on the floor after a
The future of Michigan athletics
looked bright. The basketball team
would be returning four starters and
the football team was thinking na-
tional championship - especially
after they saw the adulation lavished
on Rumeal & Co. after Seattle.
But continued winning in several
programs at once was just not
realistic - in the major or minor
sports. And the pressure we put on
our teams after so much success did
nothing to help the situation.
Misfortune, in one form or
another, seems to have finally
caught up to Michigan athletics.
While some teams, especially the
women's basketball squad, have
made great improvements this sea-
son, much of the athletic department
is mired in a slump which began
after the pinnacle reached by the
winter and spring sports teams
during the 1988-89 season.
Last year, Michigan produced:
The Rose Bowl champions.
The NCAA men's basketball
Three individual national
champions in swimming.
One individual national
champion in track.
Three All-Americans in
A 12th-ranked baseball team.
Two All-American men's ten-
The list seemed to go on and on;
success followed the Maize and Blue
wherever it travelled last year.
But the party had to end some-
time, and this year the clock struck
Coaching problems, early exits
by athletes and simple bad luck are
holding a party - and Michigan is
the guest of honor.
The football players, so hopeful
of their own national championship,
were befuddled by Notre Dame's
Raghib Ismail and a pathetic Pac-10
official in the Rose Bowl.
Men's basketball began the
season with probably what was a
superior team to its predecessor -
only to disappoint fans against Big
Ten opponents and then meet a
Loyola Marymount team that could
have beaten the Pistons. Only days
later, super-recruit Eric Montross
opted for North Carolina.
Now Wolverine fans are hoping
to go to Madison Square Garden next
year for the NIT - with a little
The ice hockey team was passed
over for an NCAA bid despite its 3rd
place CCHA tournament finish and
win over Bowling Green. Plus, the
Falcons ended up getting the bid
Michigan had earned.
The wrestling and men's tennis
team have experienced complete
breakdowns - probably the back-
lash after so many successful years.
The tennis team, traditionally a dom-
inant team in the Midwest region,
has already been lambasted by Notre
Dame and Northwestern after losing
its two top players to the pro ranks.
Only four wrestlers even qualified for
the NCAAs, half last year's total.
All were eliminated early.
And a crooked former baseball
coach will keep Michigan out of
postseason play - regardless of
their regular season performance,
which is about .500 anyway.
We should have known that last
year was one to be savored. It's not
that we've become arrogant or lazy;
bad fortune simply comes and goes
Interim athletic director Jack Weidenbach is more
than just a fill-in between Bo Schembechler and the
next permanent athletic director. Many athletic
department watchers are expecting Weidenbach to
make serious changes in the way athletics are
governed and the make-up of the department's staff.
One of those demands on Weidenbach is for a ser-
ious commitment to minority hirings in the depart-
The entire University has been accused of falling
short in the area of minority representation in
administrative areas. Yet never before has the athletic
department had to follow the lead of the University.
For decades, it has been an almost separate operation,
with two goals: winning games and making money.
The times are changing... maybe.
This new era might have been stalled when
another era ended last year. Schembechler's retirement
as football coach/athletic director might have set Mi-
chigan's program back further in their search for mi-
nority candidates. Schembechler always had two Black
coaches on his staff, more than most Big Ten coach-
es. He had also helped former players get ahead in
other careers. Schembechler might have liked to do
the same thing at Michigan, but was unable to attract
players who had left Michigan back to the athletic
"Normally I like to train minorities for coaching
positions, for administrative positions in athletics,
but we lose a lot of our best kids when they go out
into professional sports," Schembechler said. "They
make more money, better contacts, and it's hard to
get them to start at entry level, because really they are
making a lot more money than they would make if
they wouldn't go into athletics."
So, how do they attract minority candidates and
who is going to lead the charge to find them?
"You've got tohaveguys who are qualified, but
you've got to have guys who are interested in what
you offer," Schembechler said. "I never looked at
Michigan as having a big, big problem.
To bring more minorities into the department,
Michigan must make a massive commitment to
hiring minorities, a committment that has not existed
There may be a need for a little more pressure
overdue at 'M'
Recently, University President James Duderstadt
increased his involvement in the athletic department.
"I think that there is no question that in the
minority hiring area, we simply must make progress,
and I will help in any way that I can," Duderstadt
said. "In the department of intercollegiate athletics,
just as in our hospitals and academic units, I am
responsible if we don't meet those goals. But I don't
view that as an adversarial kind of relationship, I view
that as partnering and working together with the
Most Michigan fans look at the power struggle
between University President John DiBiaggio and
football coach George Perles at Michigan State and
proclaim proudly 'it could never happen here.' Yet
there will be a time in the near future when we will
Weidenbach is expected to step down as athletic
director sometime in the next five years. Some
speculate that the search will only include those
currently in the department. There is a call from many
for a nationwide search to replace Weidenbach when
he does leave.
Michigan needs to bring in more minority
employees. To bring in the best possible people,
Black or white, searches must go on. Michigan fans
may not be familiar with what such a search is like,
that is, because they rarely happen here.
Right now, there is no plan for minority hiring,
no feeling that it must happen and no person pushing
for it to happen anytime soon. The drive to open up
the athletic department will have to start with
somebody making a decision to change.
"The problem is going to be there a long time,"
said Keenan Delaney, a former Michigan Director of
Promotions and Marketing and current Assistant
assistant athletic director at Minnesota.
"It's not something that is going to be solved
overnight. Most of the people who are positions right
now are people who grew up prior to the civil rights
movement of the 60s. I don't want to say the
problem is going to take care of itself, but it is going
to take time and we got talk about it and pick up the
pace and try to change things. As much as people
want to say 'there isn't a problem,' the problem is a
lot bigger than people ever, ever realize.
"It's not going to be an up front issue. It's just
not a priority."
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