The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 3,_1995 - 3-
Michigan Varsity Athletes Balance Studies with Work and Play
prestigious academic institu
tion like the University of
Michigan draws scholars from
all over the world. Many incoming
students carried 4.0 grade averages in
Some carried footballs.
SAnd in many college lectures and
seminars, classmates can easily pick
out the athlete, for sometimes out-
standing athletes are below-average
But although this stereotype rings
true in some recruits, itis not always so.
"The philosophy that I have-about
collegiate athletics is that they are
student-athletes and the main focus is
the student," said Athletic Direc-
tor Joe Roberson.
And although the University of
Michigan is rated No. I in the Big Ten
Conference by the Gourman Report
for balancing academics and athlet-
ics, some athletes do not share
Roberson's vision of themselves fore-
most as students and some of those
same students choose less rigorous
paths to education.
Tennis player Arvid Swan, an LSA
first-year student, said his mind is on
tennis most of the time.
"I surround everything I do based
on that. Tennis is my priority," Swan
said. "I'm just more interested in ten-
All the same, the University ex-
pects its student-athletes to adhere to
the strictest standards of the term and
s to provide an environment to
improve performance both on and off
the courts and fields that line the cam-
pus, say coaches and advisers.
Some athletes fulfill Roberson's
philosophy: They play sports and do
well in classes too.
While the men's swimming team
has the highest grade-point average
of any varsity team, only one swim-
mer and one diver are pursuing fields
side LSA or Kinesiology.
Freestyler Thomas Blake, a me-
chanical engineering senior, is the
only Engineering student on the team.
"It's not exactly easy," said Blake,
a B-plus student who will graduate
with honors in April. "Not to put
down LSA and Kinesiology, but
The Division of Kinesiology has
*ned a reputation over the years as
being a "holding tank," creating spots
for athletes who may not be top-notch
But all student-athletes are forced
to balance their time, an important
skill when one needs to fit up to three
workouts, meals, sleep and
coursework into the daily grind.
"The amount of time when you
n'thaveasportis ... well I wouldn't
en know," said Olympic medalist
freestyler Tom Dolan, a sophomore
who is considering an individual con-
centration program within LSA.
"But if I didn't swim I know I'd be
getting better grades," Dolan admit-
"They spend a lot of hours in train-
ing and competition that other students
don't," Roberson said of the
*iversity's 400 or so varsity student-
athletes. "That's a lot of time that other
students spend in preparation and
coursework. In a sense, that's a disad-
vantage for our varsity athletes."
Many athletes indeed feel that par-
ticipating in weekend competitions
every week, missing classes due to
events and the overall strain of deal-
ing with the constraints of a 24-hour
day get in the way of their education.
In January, freshman defender
Carrie Povilaitis notified coaches that
she has decided not to play soccer for
now, after an extremely successful
"I basically am taking a semester
off soccer because my grade point
wasn't where I wanted it to be,"
Pbvilaitis said after her first semester
as an engineering student.
"I'm the kind of person who likes
to do the best in everything I do. In
soccer, I wasn't doing the best of my
,capability and in school I wasn't do-
ing the best of my capability."
Povilaitis said her coaches were
supportive and that she has continued
contact with her academic adviser.
Her choice was not easy, and for rev-
enue-sport athletes, sometimes it is
not a choice at all.
At every football game at Michigan
Stadium, pro scouts stand among the
ranks of the 101,000 observers. Wol-
verine football and basketball players
are in the national spotlight every year,
signing professional contracts before
their education is completed.
Hurdler Neal Riley, an LSA first-
year student, said he too had some
difficulty his first term and earned a
"I've had a lot of problems. but
that's why I'm taking cake classes
this semester," Riley said. He said he
plans to stay on the track team for all
four years of eligibility.
The NCAA requires student-ath-
letes to maintain a 2.0 GPA overall
and carry 12 credits, although the
University tries to uphold higher GPA
The University requires freshman
athletes to attend regular study tables
and provides free tutors to athletes who
feel they are getting behind in their
Dolan said he takes advantage of
this service. "I think it's a big help to
me. It's an advantage that athletes
Academic advisers oversee athletes'
academic progress and receive notice
when students perform poorly in class.
"If you did bad, you'll know. They
let you know," said freshman pole
vaulter Mike Edwards, who said he is
trying to transfer to Engineering from
Kinesiology and has consulted with
his adviser on a few occasions.
Despite myths that athletes receiv c
preferential treatment from professors
and are in sports for money or gifts, the
University complies with NCAA by-
laws regarding such bonuses and even
the more stringent rules of the Big
Ten Conference, Roberson said.
Even under last year's $7 million
contract with Nike, athletes are not
given clothing or money for their per-
formance in athletic contests, with a
The University outfits athletes with
T-shirts, warm-ups. shoes, goggles,
rackets. socks and other equipment,
but these are not gifts - they are only
loaned to players. Roberson said.
"They either wear it out or they
have to give it back." he said.
When the 1993-94 Wolverine
women's track team won the "triple
crown" - the indoor, outdoor and
cross country championships - each
member received a gold ring valued
at nearly $300 for their efforts and
However, these types of gifts are
the exception, not the rule.
Also, since the Big Ten was the
first collegiate conference to disallow
them, officials say "training tables"
- special ,meals for athletes - are
not provided for athletes.
However, football players who eat
in a special dining room in South
Quad say differently.
"We come down to eat whatever
they have at the training table to-
gether." said football player Anthony
Williams, an LSA first-year student
who lives with roommate Chris Floyd
in South Quad. "We get a little bit more
of everything bit it's all the same."
Football players also receive ad-
ditional Entree funds to purchase food
at the residence halls, supposedly be-
cause they require more caloric in-
"I mean I understand the reason-
ing behind 'why treat the athletes
different than other students?"' Dolan
says. "But there is some obligation
for the school to take care of their
Many athletes come to the Uni-
versity after a scholarship offer from
a coach. The NCAA regulates how
many scholarships can be given out
for athletic purposes, broken down by
In most cases, non-revenue sports
can be allocated more scholarship
funds. For example, NCAA regula-
tions allow up to 16 scholarships for
women's cross country and track run-
ners but only 13 scholarships for men's
Instead of giving full scholarships,
the association allows partial scholar-
ships to be given out in non-revenue
sports, enabling more athletes to re-
ceive financial help.
Athletic scholarships pay for a
student's tuition, books, and room
and board - off-campus housing if
the student prefers.
Much of the department's funding
is generated by the three main rev-
enue sports - basketball, football
Football draws about $14 million
each year'in revenue, men's basket-
ball more than $2 million and hockey
about $650,000 (although after costs,
hockey doesn't even break even).
Many of these players get am-
bushed walking to class or strolling to
the shower in.their residence hall.
"It's not as bad as I thought it
would be, you know, with the tradi-
tion of Michigan football," Williams
Hockey player John Madden said,
"No one's ever come up to me and
said, 'Hey, you're John Madden,' but
we get some fan mail." Madden, a left
wing on the hockey team and Kinesi-
ology sophomore said that, "Mostly
we just want to be respected as stu-
Row your own boat
Club sports players receive no
funding from the University but hold
fund-raisers and other events to sup-
port their endeavors financially.
The crew team conducts a "row-a-
thon" annually to earn money for
spring break training in Florida. The
team also conducts two "rent-a-rower"
days to earn money, and each mem-
ber pays up to $800 annually in dues.
In order to promote gender equity
between men's and women's varsity
teams, the University plans to create
another women's varsity sport to add
to the 22 Wolverine teams currently
Roberson said a committee will
announce a sport this month or next
month, although he will not speculate
as to what the committee's decision
might be -only that the new varsity
team will be a women's team.
He said that with the new sport in
place, about 42 to 44 percent of the
University's varsity athletes will be
The Big Ten Conference has man-
dated that 40 percent of each school's
varsity athletes be women by 1997.
Roberson says the University will
meet the deadline by next season.
It is rumored that women's crew is
being considered for elevation to var-
sity status. The athletic department
may choose to elevate a current club
sport - such as crew - to varsity
status or it may develop a new sport.
"It would be really cool if crew was
elevated to a varsity sport." said novice
rower Kirsten Neudoerffer. an LSA
sophomore. "When I think of varsity.
sports.!always think of recruiting from
Since the baseball team was
founded as the first sport at the Uni-
versity in 1867 and went undefeated
in its inaugural campaign, athletic
personnel have forged a tradition
nearly unmarred by scandal.
"No matter what else this program
has to stand for, it's integrity,"
Roberson said. "That's the comer-
stone of Michigan athletics. It started
with Fielding Yost and it will con-
Only one NCAA code violationr
has resulted in a penalty in the history
of Michigan athletics. In July 1989,
the baseball team was hit with penal-
ties stemming from former coach Bud
Middaugh's recruiting techniques and'
interest-free loans he provided to play-
ers. These included a $1,000-$1,500
loan to a student. Baseball players
also violated NCAA rules by reaping.
profits from program sales at home
After investigations by the Big
Ten and the NCAA, Middaugh re-
signed and former Wolverine and
Detroit Tiger Bill Freehan took the
coaching position, which he still holds.
Sanctions mandated scholarship
restrictions and ruled out post-season
play, but Freehan said the players
were loyal to the team and tried to
keep up a certain spirit.
"I knew what I was getting into
and that was one of the reasons I
chose to do it," Freehan says. "But
there's a proud tradition and to have
any program put under sanction for
the first time was embarassing."
In most cases, athletes are paired
up as first-year students with team-
mates in University housing. Often,
they choose to live together once they
move out of the dorms also.
"That way when I do get to sit
around my room I don't have to just
sit around by myself." said Williams,
referring to the hectic schedule cre-
ated by football training.
With schedules that demand so
much of athletes' time, living with a
teammate can add some normalcy.
"They try to (pair up teammates in
rooms) because our schedules aren't
normal - 5:30 in the morning isn't
normal.' said Talor Bendel, freestyler
and butterflyer for the women's swim-
ming team, speaking of morning prac-
It's not every student who can be
in the pool at 5:30 a.m. and it's not
every student who can be on the la-
crosse field until 1 a.m.
"I have basically no social life.
The guys on the team and the guys
that I live with," are Madden's friends,
"We're trying to prove everybody
wrong," Madden said of his team-
mates. "We work just as hard in classes
as we do on the ice."
wrestler, Kinesiology fifth-year senior
swimmer, LSA first-year student
6:15 a.m.. - wake up
6:30-7:30 a.m. -
7:30-7:45 a.m. - bikes
8-10 a.m. -.shower,
breakfast at home
10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. -
nap at home
2:30 p.m. - arrive at
practice for taping
3 p.m. -jump ropes
Events: 200 freestyle, 200
"There's more- to me than swim-
ming." Bendel insists during a study
break in her dorm room in the base-
ment of South Quad.
Like many fellow athletes, Bendel
says her sport is important to her, but
it is not everything. "It gives me
something to do other than worry
about school. There's plenty of time
to get everything done after prac-
tice," Bendel says.
Bendel, like many students, came
to campus with few friends, missing
her family and her boyfriend, who
livpc. ti.sqr i-r iCnmt'tC~n of
5:30 a.m. - wake up
6-8 a.m. - morning
8-9 a.m. - shower,
9 a.m.-2 p.m.
2:15-2:30 p.m. - sit-
ups before practice
d (1-tQip ( nm -
STEPHANIE GRACE LIM/Daly
Weight class: 190 lbs.
As a sophomore, Hamdan tore the
meniscus in his right knee, prevent-
was thinking about not wrestling. Now
it's just as strong as my other leg if not
M-101-1 NOVOINWAI, VM