The following letter appears in the Fall issue of the Alumni Association Magazine. I have wrote a letter in response. I encourage you all to do the same and/or offer some feedback on my letter. This dude graduated in '61 and is probably completely out of touch with reality, but I still want to slap him across the face. And if the Alumni Association prints something like this, I think it says a lot about the pressure David Brandon will be faced with if this season does not go well.
Let's Return to Athletic Tradition
I have been a long-time supporter of U-M athletics. My dad was a track man, holding a Big Ten record for nine years. My daughter was a swimmer and lettered for four years. I went to school at U-M in the late '50s and graduated in 1961.
Now please ask me how I can support our two major sports teams when our University has let things go so far away from any and every Michigan tradition. I still have season tickets for football and basketball (sustaining member of the Victors Club), but sometimes I ask myself why. I am not alone with this very negative attitude, and only the future will tell the University how its supporters are disgusted. Just another example was that terrible defensive call for the last 2.2 seconds of the OSU game during the Big Ten Tournament. The University, regents and president are not responsible caretakers of our athletic tradition. Why Michigan fell in love with coaches from West Virginia, I have no idea, but they have put us back way before our glory days starting with 1969. The entire thing makes me upset.
The president is very kind to send us all a nice Christmas card every year, but I wish she could understand what is happening on State Street. The only positive thing I can think of is our new athletic director, but it bothers me he seems to support these coaches and that one of them was on the president’s selection team for his new position. I would assume his hands are tied for at least the next few years. Maybe when Michigan gets NCAA sanctions in August, we will all really understand how far we have fallen. Oh, but the football coach’s job is secure for yet another season. I guess someone forgot the old and new investments that the University has on State and Stadium streets.
T.H. Smith, '61
My letter to the Michigan Alumnus:
Stick By Our Teams, Keep Believing
T.H. Smith (’61) wrote a letter that appeared in the Fall ’10 edition of the Michigan Alumnus. Mr. Smith asked how he can support our two major sports teams. To Mr. Smith and anyone else who may feel similarly, I would like to offer a response to that question.
Coach Beilein, in just his second season in Ann Arbor, took a squad to the second round of the tournament – the first time Michigan had even made the NCAA tournament in over a decade. Additionally, Coach Beilein is highly regarded throughout the collegiate basketball sphere and is the head of the NCAA Ethics Coalition, a major reason that President Coleman trusted him for insight on the search for a new athletic director. Coach Beilein is a man of the utmost dignity and respect and deserves every Michigan fan and alum’s support.
Coach Rodriguez came into a difficult situation. Our football team happened upon a severe lack of depth in talent on both sides of the football, forcing Coach Rodriguez to rebuild from the bottom. He has come under fire for major violations even though they appear to be the result of a lack of institutional accountability in the athletic department.* And, yes, on the field he may have underachieved in the first two years of his tenure. However, he has said and done nothing but proudly represent the University of Michigan. Most importantly, he is the coach of 105 student athletes that proudly play for Michigan, and that should be reason enough to earn your support.
Last year Michigan Athletics saw great accomplishments in volleyball, hockey, softball, women’s tennis, women’s gymnastics, and water polo in addition to a National Championship in men’s gymnastics. All reasons to support the athletic program we love.
In closing, I leave you with this quote, and urge you to support our coaches and student-athletes in all sports:
“When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft; on the other hand, when your team is losing, stick by them. Keep believing.” – Bo Schembechler
EDIT: * Updated. Previous sentence referenced the Lloyd Carr era b/c that was when Labadie and Draper were hired, but it came off as being accusing of Lloyd, which I did not intend.