2B - September 30, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
When it comes to protecting vulnerable, department has head in the sky
Write this in the sky:
the problem with the
Department isn't that it blundered
the basketball student season-
nor is it the
the football v
It isn't that it
the sky with
its own name ZACH
or that it has HELFAND
marketable piece of tradition left
in this school.
It's certainly not the misguided
assertion that somehow the Ath-
letic Department is making too
The problem is that, at a public
non-profit institution, that money
is supposed to support some mis-
sion. The problem is that instead
of supporting some mission, the
Athletic Department is throw-
ing money into the troposphere;
meanwhile, it won't shell out the
money that could protect summer
campers, entrusted to the depart-
ment's care, from abuse.
Last Tuesday, Athletic Camp
Administrator Katie Miranto said
that the department doesn't run
thorough background checks on
its summer camp counselors and
doesn't provide any sexual-abuse
prevention training. Currently,
the department only checks for
crimes committed in the state of
Michigan, even though a third
of its counselors are from out of
"I can't even describe to you
how many gaps there are and how
nervous I get over the summer,"
Miranto said at a forum Tuesday.
By now, the line between the
Michigan Athletic Department
and a corporation is microscopic.
And that's not necessarily bad; it's
a reality of competing in current
Yet to the critics, the Athletic
even more money. Modern ath-
letic departments aren't corpora-
tions, even if they are now nearly
indistinguishable. There are no
shareholders to report to and no
dividends to issue.
To return to the Classics
Department example, its mis-
sion is to educate students and
improve its academic standingto
contribute to Michigan's general
reputation. That's why it wants
to improve facilities and hire the
The Athletic Department's
mission, in theory, is the same: to
serve its student-athletes and to
serve as atool that promotes the
University as awhole. And the
money is important, as it helps the
University continue to projecta
tradition of winning.
But when the Athletic Depart-
ment neglects a broader back-
ground check each of which
would cost less than say, oh, a sky-
written message, that represents
some deeply misplaced priorities.
It has strayed fromthe mission
and diluted the very brand it seeks
to uphold when the department
failed to protect its most vulner-
able constituents. Ithas failed,
so muchso that Miranto said she
has trouble sleeping at night due
to the security lapses. Not exactly
a vote of confidence from the
woman in charge of running the
summer camps. If something ter-
rible were to happen, it would be
pretty clear where the blame is.
The greatthing about having a
$137.5 million budget and a pro-
jected surplus of $8.9 million is
that it can pay for things that real-
ly matter. Things like protecting
campers from abuse. That, above
all, is what all the "Wow experi-
ences" and Kraft noodles and fly-
overs are supposed to pay for.
But instead of protecting the
children entrusted into its care,
the Athletic Department was too
busy painting its name in the sky.
-Helfand can be reached
Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon has been criticized forticket policies, but the real issue is that the department won't pay for expanded background checks.
Department suffers from a greed
problem. If any year has symbol-
ized the current department's
oversized spending and money-
grabbing, it is this year, right?
This department has introduced
a temporary giant Kraft noodle
advertisement in Michigan Sta-
dium, spent thousands on a con-
troversial skywriting marketing
campaign and oversold the Michi-
gan basketball student section,
so that the students who paid for
guaranteed tickets to each bas-
ketball game would no longer be
guaranteed tickets to each basket-
But those critics that demon-
ize the department's profits are
missing the point. The problem
isn't thatthe Athletic Department
has chosen to funda skywriting
campaign. The problem is that the
Athletic Department has chosen
to fund a skywriting campaign
rather than pay to protect vulner-
able children. How did we get
The money isn't the problem.
Ignoring, for a moment, the fact
that college athletic departments
make their money off athletes
who are not allowed to profit off
their labor (and yes, this is a major
point to ignore), more money
is not a bad thing. For a public
institution that receives taxpayer
money, more money from any
source otherthan the taxpayers
is a good thing. The fact that the
Michigan Athletic Department
can sustain itself is a very good
Money funds scholarships
and maintains teams. It builds
the buildings thatbring in the
recruits. The Classics Department
wants more money to improve its
facilities and hire the best profes-
sors. The Athletic Department
So when the department pays
thousands of dollars to put its
name in the sky, the only question
worth asking is: Is this profitable?
Michigan's chief marketing
officer, Hunter Lochmann, says
yes. After criticism of the skywrit-
ing campaign, Lochmann posted
several responses on Twitter.
"When it was all said and done,
each message cost about $100," he
wrote in one message. "The ROI?
the best marketingctactic we do
That sounds reasonable. And
it is not withoutprecedent.
Before skywriting, there were
helicopters: former Michigan
Athletic Director Don Canham
had a helicopter advertise for
Michigan football over a Detroit
Tigers World Series game in 1968.
The reaction was negative then,
too, but today no one objects that
Canham's marketing efforts mod-
ernized and funded the future of
Then came Tuesday, when
Miranto exposed holes in the
Athletic Department's back-
The revelation was troubling.
The reasoning was predictable.
Miranto said the department
didn'tperform broader back-
ground checks because they
couldn't afford it.
"That is a huge area of concern
right now, butthe way the system
is built, it's really our only option
for cost reasons, for how fast we
need to turn the background
check around," Miranto said.
And there's the problem.
Money is good for the Athletic
Department if it serves some
greater mission. That mission
should go further than just fund-
ing the $850,000 base salary
that Michigan Athletic Direc-
tor Dave Brandon will earn this
year. The mission should also go
furtherthan the acquisition of
Wolverines stall on road in BIG opener
By LEV FACHER in the third. Back-to-back kills
Daily Sports Writer from Buckeye outside hitter Kait-
lyn Leary gave Ohio State a 22-19
Over the weekend, the Michi- lead from which the Wolverines
gan volleyball team saw the same never recovered. The Buckeyes
scene play out twice in a 24-hour took the fourth set, 25-17, to close
span - once out the match.
in Colum- MICHIGAN 1 Michigan didn't fare any better
bus and OHIO STATE 3 the next night against Penn State,
then again coming back from a loss in the
in State MICHIGAN 1 opening set to tie the match at one
College. It's PENN STATE 3 going into the break. But the top-
one that the ranked Nittany Lions controlled
Wolverines don't want to see play play forthe rest of the night, coast-
out again. ing to a3-1 victory. The loss drops
Against No. 13 Ohio State on the Wolverines' record to 0-2 in
Friday night, Michigan rallied in Big Ten play and 10-3 overall.
the second set to tie the match at Friday night, Michigan and
one before succumbing to offen- Ohio State traded points through-
sive pressure from the Buckeyes out the first set, but stalled coming
out of a late timeout. The Wolver-
ines dropped four of the final five
points to give Ohio State a 25-22
win and a 1-0 lead in the match.
They recovered in the second
set, though, taking the Buckeyes
down to the wire and eventually
pulling out a 27-25 win that dead-
locked the match at one.
After dropping the third set,
25-20, Michigan began the fourth
with a ferocity it hadn'tyet shown
on the evening, jumping out to a
4-1 advantage behind more hero-
ics from the night's stars, senior
outside hitter Molly Toon and
senior setter Lexi Dannemi-
ller. The pair paced the Wolver-
ines with 16 kills and 44 assists,
respectively, and was strong
offensively for Michigan through-
out the weekend despite the 0-2
Butthe stretch of energetic play
was short-lived - Ohio State won
11 of the next 12 points to take a
15-5 lead and coasted the rest of
the way to earn the 3-1 victory.
"Molly played really well all
weekend," said Michigan coach
Mark Rosen. "I think Dannemi-
ller and (senior middle blocker)
Jennifer Cross did a great job
Despite the duo's performance,
Rosen lamented his team's lack
of consistency over the weekend,
especially against the Buckeyes.
"We gave up streaks of points,"
Rosen said. "In this conference,
you have to be steady. Top to bot-
tom, the Big Ten is ridiculously
That top-to-bottom strength
had already showed its face on
Friday night - like the Wolver-
ines, Penn State entered Saturday
night's top-10 showdown licking
its wounds, having been upset a
night earlier by Michigan State.
But the Nittany Lions had won
42 of their last 45 games against
Michigan at Rec Hall and showed
no signs of bucking that trend in
front of a rowdy crowd of 3,506.
The first set on Saturday night
saw a head-to-head battle in the
early going between Toon and
Penn State's Megan Courtney,
the reigning Big Ten Freshman
of the Year. But the Nittany Lions
pulled away to a 15-10 lead mid-
Senior outside hitter Molly Toon had 37 combined kills over two games this weekend, but it wasn't enough for Michigan.
way through the set, and Michi-
gan never recovered, droppingthe
Penn State repeatedly took
advantage of space left between
the Wolverines' right-side block
and the unsuspecting back line
of defenders, earning several
easy points on soft drop shots
that fell into open space, often in
front of sophomore libero Tiffany
"We adjusted well," Rosen said.
"We took that away eventually.
No matter what defense you use,
there will be space for the other
team to tryto take advantage of."
The second set remained com-
petitive throughout, with neither
side taking a lead of more than
two points until Cross and Toon
combined for an over-the-middle
block that gave the Wolverines an
The Nittany Lions came storm-
ing back to tie the game at 19,
prompting Rosen to take a time-
out. But Toon took control of the
set in its closingmoments, earning
two kills and a crucial block that,
coupled with a pair of Penn State
attack errors, put the Wolverines
Fittingly, Toon closed the set
out off yet another feed from
Dannemiller, but that was the last
of Michigan's success. Coming out
of the break, the Nittany Lions
thoroughly controlled the flow of
the game in the third and fourth
sets and sent the Wolverines home
winless in the Big Ten.
"We're still in a good place,"
Toon soon. "We like playing com-
petitive teams. We're obviously I
upset about the losses, but (our
play this weekend) gives us a good
starting point from now on."
Rosen reiterated that the
strength of the conference is
unprecedented, and that achiev-
ing success on aweek-to-week I
basis against such elite competi-
tion is easier said than done.
"The Big Ten is the strongest
it's ever been," Rosen said. "We've
got to adjust to that level of play."
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