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Dear Mr. Rosenberg and Mr. Snyder,
I read with interest your report about allegations of NCAA
football violations at the University of Michigan. However, I felt that there were a number of
areas in which the investigation and/or report could have been improved with
more detail and comprehensive information.
Certainly, there are space limitations for articles and deadlines to
complete a project, but given the gravity of the subject, the report could have
been more accurate and representative in the following ways:
Methodology - What specific questions
were asked of players and parents?
Was a breakdown of how the hours were spent asked of the players? I
felt that additional characteristics were needed about the sources used (e.g.,
Carr recruit vs. Rodriguez recruit, number of former players vs. number of
current players). I could come to a very
different conclusion about the allegations if the report indicated that the
sources were nine former players/transfers and one current player than if it
came from 9 current players and 1 former player/transfer. Note that this can be done while still
protecting the anonymity of players and parents who requested it. The report would have also greatly benefited
from gathering information from a larger sample of individuals. While not all of this information needs to
be included, the report would’ve greatly benefited from more detail about the
nature of the interviews, what was asked, and source characteristics.
Confirming and Disconfirming Evidence - In
the search for accurate answers to issues, individuals absolutely must seek out
disconfirming as well as confirming evidence.
This is true for scientists as well as for journalists. Unfortunately, I only found confirming
evidence in the article published by the Detroit Free Press. If more players and parents would have been
interviewed, disconfirming evidence would likely exist on this issue.
Report Context - The report also did not
include any information on the recent (2008) NCAA survey results the USA Today
published about the amount of hours collegiate student-athletes spend on
academics and athletics. The NCAA study
contained a large sample of collegiate student-athletes (N=1,600+ football
players, N=21,000+ athletes), and indicated that college football players spend
an average of 44.8 hours per week on combined involuntary and voluntary
practices and workouts (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/2008-01-12-athletes-full-time-work-study_N.htm). Were you aware of this study? If so, I would have either requested data
from the study to get more information or at least mentioned the survey in the
report. This certainly does not absolve any program from violating hour
limitations placed on daily/weekly practices and workout limits nor does it
address all the issues present in the UM report, but I felt it certainly would
have indicated to the reader that this is an issue that is more widespread (in
fact, it’s probably commonplace) and not an isolated problem with one program
or one sport. Furthermore, it would have
placed the report in a better, more accurate context.
Selective Quotations - What did the other
players indicate about practice and workout requirements? The articles included selective quotations
from players who had negative things to say about practice and workouts as well
as an indifferent comment from a freshman (Je’Ron Stokes) who was indifferent
about the issue (as noted in the article).
Were all players aware of what was being investigated during the
Resolution of Conflicting Information - The
report indicates that that one player (sharing the sentiment of others)
indicated that workouts in the past two off-seasons at Michigan “affected
people’s grades. People were falling asleep in class.” Yet, UM reported that the 2008 cumulative
Michigan football GPA is the highest it has been in nearly 20 years. These two conflicting pieces of information
needed to be fleshed out more, or at very least mentioned together.
sincerely hope you strongly consider creating a more comprehensive, balanced,
and well-rounded report on such issues in the future.