The Way Forward II

The Way Forward II

Submitted by BlueDragon on May 21st, 2017 at 12:43 PM

Three years later, I have a follow-up to Brian's post The Way Forward ( written in response to remarks from President Mark Schlissel after his inauguration.


I thought about the possibility of using the music major model to create a football (-basketball, -softball, etc.) specific undergrad degree program for Michigan student athletes. While the recordings and portfolio are important, and the pre-screening recordings and/or audition are extremely important for admission, music majors get to be music majors because the academic fields that have grown up around the practice rooms are considered serious academic fields, with peer-reviewed papers, grants, and so forth. The trick to create a similar model is to figure out the academic fields that have grown up around college athletics, and make a degree program that fits them.


I have a somewhat unique perspective here, as a Michigan music major (performance, class of 2010) who retrained in pre-med, and am currently in medical school. I understand the talent-intensive and the academic-intensive sides of the coin. That being said, this diary is not a blueprint for action, it is a starting template for discussion.


Some ideas and their present-day equivalents:


Stadium/Team management (Pre-Business)

Manufacturing the protective gear (Pre-Med, Industrial Engineering, Pre-Business)

C-Suite Executive Stuff (Pre-Business)

**Becoming a high school football coach (Education, Pre-Business)

Becoming a trainer/doctor/other health care professional (Various Pre-med/Nursing/Physical Therapy core classes)


**asterisks because I think education is extremely valuable and we all do teaching in our lifelong journeys. Many skill sets can be honed through education and a multitude of classes tie into it.


Then we could look at the course by course requirements and tailor a degree concentration with the lion's share of the courses geared towards getting people thinking about the Gesamtkuntswerk of athletics, and how do we learn the skill sets to be successful in these areas.


With that in mind, let us expand our imaginations and try to think of academic requirements directly tying into athletics which are analogues of core requirements for Michigan music majors:


Academic Requirements for music majors (2006-2007)


Music Theory - 12 credit hours, over four semesters (Written and Aural Theory), plus a 3-credit 400-level Aural Theory.

    Coaching classes? Lots of shadowing in the community (but this could conflict with team time)?  **Psychology?  Business Management?


Musicology (History/Anthropology of Music)-  8 hours over 4 semesters (Intro, Post WWI, Middle Ages - Baroque, Preclassic Era - WWI)

    Relatively straightforward. History of sports, pro leagues, how the rules of your sport evolved, etc.


Large Ensemble (Symphony Band, University Symphony Orchestra) - every semester

    Being in good standing with the team in question? Business management type things?


Small Ensemble (General Chamber Music, Contemporary Directions Ensemble, Orchestral Repertoire) (2-3 semesters)

    Maybe here we could plug in working with the trainers, learning how to manage a stadium or a pro team. I'm thinking that we might have to combine large and small ensemble here in some way.


Performance - on your main instrument, weekly lessons plus weekly studio class 

    The Division I sport in question. The butt-busting college athletes do is self-evident



Non Music Requirements


English 124/125, 3 credits


Argumentative Writing, 3 credits


*15 credits of electives (AP/IB counts towards this)

    *We could add in more pre-business or pre-med courses to shore up the academic rigor, and reduce the electives allotment. Have em take Anatomy and learn how the body works!



Please, if you have ideas, criticisms, speak up and let us put our minds together and come up with a better idea than what I cooked up here. I may publish details of other music degree programs that I think could align well with athletics-specific requirements.


Thanks for your time.

LOLSparty: Algebra no longer required at MSU

LOLSparty: Algebra no longer required at MSU

Submitted by Mark McBoneski on June 30th, 2016 at 10:40 AM

In a move that should shock none of us, MSU has done away with requiring algebra to graduate. They claim that algebra is just too hard for their students, so they are implementing new "quantitative literacy" classes. And it's not like MSU's algebra course is rocket science. From one class's syllabus:


The topics of MTH 103 include linear & quadratic equations & inequalities, complex numbers, equations with radicals, absolute value, graphing linear and quadratic equations, transformations of graphs, polynomials, functions, polynomial and rational functions, exponentials, logarithms, and, most importantly, applications of these topics to solving problems outside of mathematics.

 I do realize that math isn't for everyone (UM's calculus courses were the WORST), but come on. If you have a college degree, you're expected to able to perform simple algebra calculations. Luckily, one of MSU's leaders agrees with me:


But students aren’t likely to succeed in the new classes or in post-college life without some algebra fundamentals, said William Schmidt, director of the MSU College of Education's Center for the Study of Curriculum. “Students who come to college with real weaknesses on the formal math side may not benefit fully from the quantitative lessons,” he said. While every job doesn’t require a well-honed knowledge of advanced math, Schmidt said, learning the fundamentals is essential to problem-solving. “The logic of thinking algebraically builds ways of thinking about problems, allowing us to engage in the practical aspects of mathematics,” he said. “It’s pretty tough (to do so) without it.”


LSJ Link

So maybe there is a small chance that eventually those quantitative literacy classes will end up resembling actual algebra. But until then, we just have to be content with "Go to school at MSU, learn to count to te-en!" being all too real.


Athletes at Michigan play school, and do it well

Athletes at Michigan play school, and do it well

Submitted by The Mad Hatter on May 20th, 2015 at 12:31 PM

The past four years have produced the best academic stretch for Michigan athletics since the NCAA began tracking the data 10 years ago.

A record 10 U-M teams received Division I Academic Progress Rate (APR) Public Recognition Awards from the National Collegiate Athletic Association on Wednesday, the NCAA announced. The total is the highest for Michigan teams since the APR came into existence in 2004-05, and surpassed last year's total of six.

OT: Gary Andersen left WI due to WI's academic standards

OT: Gary Andersen left WI due to WI's academic standards

Submitted by chrs5mr on January 22nd, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Interesting article about Gary Andersen leaving Wisconsin because of their high academic standards.  He basically couldn't get the players he wanted into school.  Not sure how he didn't know this going in but sounds like WI should be glad he's gone.…

Should Athletics Honor Academics?

Should Athletics Honor Academics?

Submitted by GoBlueNorthside on December 17th, 2014 at 12:38 PM

The athletic department is working on their image and their relationship to the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the university.

One idea might be to honor academic accomplishments on the field along with athletic accomplishments.

Currently each time there is a timeout, the athletic department brings a person onto the field who was successful in the NFL, won a conference championship, or won an olympic medal. These are athletic accomplishments.

Would it help tie together academics with athletics to sometimes also honor those who have achieved academic accomplishments? As an extreme example, if a Michigan alum won a nobel prize, having them come onto the field and honor them.

edit: typo

Class Advice for Incoming Freshman

Class Advice for Incoming Freshman

Submitted by UMClassOf2018 on June 8th, 2014 at 11:55 AM

I will be heading to Ann Arbor for freshman orientation on Tuesday, and one task of orientation is to register for classes. I know many MGoBloggers attended Michigan, and to you, I would just like to ask for some scheduling advice in general. I am in LSA, but I'm going to be applying for Ross, so I will be taking a first year writing class, economics, and calculus for sure.

With that said, I am just curious as to what professors are good? Which first year writing classes/seminars are worth taking? I will probably be in Calc 2, but should I take Calc 116 or Calc 186 (honors)? Which econ 101 professor is worth taking? What other classes could be valuable? Any bit of advice that you could offer me would be very helpful. Thank you so much!

UNC Admitting Shortcomings in Academics for Athletes

UNC Admitting Shortcomings in Academics for Athletes

Submitted by MFanWM on January 29th, 2014 at 9:54 AM

UNC Chancellor:  "We also accept the fact that there was a failure in academic oversight for years that permitted this to continue," Folt told UNC trustees last week.

I wonder what, if any, fallout this will have from an NCAA perspective and if there is actually any action taken, or if this is just going to further display that $$$ is the true driver in major college athletics and that nothing more will happen with this.  

Given the actions at Northwestern to attempt unionization in the football program, I would think that reports like this could easily lend credence to the fact that athletics and athletic scholarships are not simply a voluntary "student-athlete" program.  If it can be shown that such a significant portion of scholarship athletes in other programs also do not have basic reading and writing skills, let alone are taking fake or set-aside courses to maintain academic standings to participate in sports, it really weakens the statements from the NCAA yesterday.

In a statement, NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy disagreed with the idea that college athletes could be considered labor. The full remarks from Remy:

This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education. Student-athletes are not employees, and their participation in college sports is voluntary. We stand for all student-athletes, not just those the unions want to professionalize.

Many student athletes are provided scholarships and many other benefits for their participation. There is no employment relationship between the NCAA, its affiliated institutions or student-athletes.

Student-athletes are not employees within any definition of the National Labor Relations Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act. We are confident the National Labor Relations Board will find in our favor, as there is no right to organize student-athletes.


OT: Article on potential approach to academic issues with athletes

OT: Article on potential approach to academic issues with athletes

Submitted by ChiBlueBoy on January 22nd, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Interesting article here. Basic suggestion is to use part of the athletic program budget to create a separate department for the education of student-athletes. The primary issues I see are: 1) we already have individual tutors for athletes, is this an improvement on that?; 2) most athletes don't need additional assistance; and 3) do we give individuals graduating from the department full diplomas? With regard to 3), it probably doesn't hurt the "brand" of the school more than graduating athletes who can't read a la UNC. I also do not think that typical college courses are appropriate for athletes who read at a 3rd grade level.

Anyway, seemed like an interesting topic to debate as we wait for our tete-a-tete with Iowa tonight.

APR And Big Ten Football: A High-Level Summary

APR And Big Ten Football: A High-Level Summary

Submitted by LSAClassOf2000 on June 18th, 2013 at 1:50 PM



A few threads lately have touched on the subject of the Academic Progress Rate (APR) and where Michigan has been at in the recent past, but I thought it would be even more interesting to take a look at the entire Big Ten over the last several years. As it might garner the most interest, I chose to compare football programs.

I will first say that there was an interesting quandary that presented itself in collecting this data. It is simple enough to look up the rolling averages for the past eight years, but the reports published by the NCAA only had the individual team APR for four years prior, so I had to recreate the formula for finding the individual APRs using the rolling averages and I went back as far as 2004-05. I double checked my results and they seem reasonable.


Here is what we’re measuring when we talk about the Academic Progress Rate of a team.

For a given team, each student receiving aid will receive one point for retention (staying in school) and one point for remaining eligible to play. So, for a football team in Division I that is fielding the full complement of 85 scholarship athletes, there are a possible 170 points.  If you have in a given year, for example, four players who drop out and are ineligible (subtract 8 points), and two players who remain but are merely ineligible (subtract 2 points), you would have (160 / 170)*1000 or an APR of 941.

It is also important to note that, when we enter the new championship structure, teams must earn a 930 four-year minimum average or a 940 for last two seasons to be eligible to participate in the championships. In 2015-16, it will simply be the 930 rolling average as the benchmark for participation. So, if you look at this from the perspective of how many “points” do you lose to get to 930, 93% of 170 is 158.1, so say, 159 or 11 points.

Of course, it is a metric, and the manner in which teams keep players in school and eligible can always be debated. It isn’t perfect by any means, but it is an interesting measure as it stands.


First, here is the table with the rolling averages (thumbnail is due to size of original):

 photo APRRollingAvg_zpsb122ffea.png

There’s not a lot to say other than the general trend is towards improvement for almost everyone. As it is a rolling average, it does hide some intriguing variations between individual years, but you can see that the conference as a whole is generally getting better.


In the table below, you’ll see the individual team APRs, some of which were found algebraically as I mentioned.

 photo APR957Table_zps58d58414.png


The average of the individual APRs for football for the conference (including Nebraska when appropriate) is 957, but I have shaded in this table the instance of APRs below 957 so you can see which teams have missed that mark and how often.  Northwestern, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin would come out as APR winners in this analysis if there were such a prize.

Here’s another way to look at it, however. This table shows team performance (by way of cool shading) the performance of individual teams against the yearly conference average of those individual APRs. The far right column is the conference average, and the bottom row is the school average in that period.

 photo APRAvgTable_zps409f67e7.png


The one that should immediately grab attention is Minnesota, of course, followed to a lesser extent by Purdue, Illinois and Michigan State. These schools seemed spend a majority of this period at or below the conference average for individual APR in a given year. Michigan had a bad stretch there but you can see the tremendous improvement in recent years. Northwestern should not shock anyone really. Ohio State does well in this analysis as well.


Here is a cleaner view of individual team performance versus the average:

 photo APRIndiana_zpscdc792b8.png  photo APRMichState_zps591afd48.png  photo APRNorthwestern_zps6a772800.png  photo APRPennState_zps0ad25e13.png  photo APRPurdue_zpsbb3f358e.png  photo APRIllinois_zps228805fe.png  photo APRIowa_zpsb590d891.png  photo APRMichigan_zps07e2b189.png  photo APRMinnesota_zpsf059484a.png  photo APRNebraska_zps139e3361.png  photo APRWisconsin_zpsfc57e0e3.png


Again, part of the analysis was actually trying to extract information through algebraic means, so if I did all that right and I am not just deluding myself with regards to my math skills, you should now have a somewhat clear view of where the Big Ten has been and where it is headed when it comes to the measure.  Whatever you may think of it as a tool, there has been a net increase of 5.06% in the Big Ten’s average yearly score over these last eight years. When you think of how many more student-athletes that may very well mean are completing their education, the effort inside the Big Ten to drive achievement is yielding results.


London Times World University Academic Reputations

London Times World University Academic Reputations

Submitted by patrickdolan on March 15th, 2013 at 11:47 AM

This is the ranking that makes me smile the broadest: football, basketball and the others come and go, and are done by others. We all do this together and it doesn't change much, year to year:….

Go Blue!