Schlissel on athletics and academics (AD search related)

Schlissel on athletics and academics (AD search related)

Submitted by dnak438 on November 11th, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Some great reporting from the Michigan Daily on Schlissel's take on sports and the academic life of the University. It is certainly worth posting anyway, but especially because of this:

Schlissel added that Curzan [English Prof. Anne Curzan, who serves as faculty liaison to the Athletic Department and requests reports every semester on any classes with more than 20 percent student-athletes enrolled] said the Athletic Department “often tries to keep her at arm’s length,” expressing frustration regarding the marginalization of faculty governance in these matters.

“That’s why I’m taking a bit of time with the search for Dave’s successor,” Schlissel said. “Some folks wanted me to hire an athletic director (earlier) so he could fire the current football coach and hire the next coach but I want to take the time to make sure we get someone who is not only technically adept, but can ensure that the program has financial and academic integrity, and also someone who shares the value system of realizing our mission.

“People have been saying all kinds of things about who I’m talking to about positions and this sports stuff, and they name names of people who I have no idea who they are,” Schlissel said. “I’ve really learned that this whole athletic sphere and the usual way you approach things just doesn’t work. It’s just a crazed or irrational approach that the world and the media takes to athletics decisions.

“It’s a time sink,” he added.

Schlissel seems committed to maintaining the academic integrity of the sports teams. People will panic about what this means about Michigan's competitiveness going forward, but I think that many of us would be happy with a balanced approach. We don't want to replicate what happened at UNC, certainly.


Finding the Best Leaders for the Leaders and Best

Finding the Best Leaders for the Leaders and Best

Submitted by michelin on October 8th, 2014 at 4:59 PM

IMO, since Bo left, UM has often looked not at the strength of its leaders but their weaknesses.  So, it has often chosen opposite, new leaders who lack these weaknesses, but who often also lack the strengths of their predecessors.  And that has led to serious problems.

Consider first coaching.  UM went from the defensively-principled, tough-as-nails Bo to the offensively-minded Moeller.  But Moeller was perceived to have an alcohol problem, which he reportedly refused to get help for.  So (regardless of the truth or falsity of this perception), UM turned to a man they perceived as more principled and intelligent Carr.  Yet, when Carr’s record began to plateau, he was called too old and predictable.  So, UM turned to the inventive spread-coach, RR.  But his defensive incompetence then made UM go the opposite way.  So, now UM is back to a defensive-minded but offensively disorganized Hoke. 

In choosing its AD, UM also has seemed to choose each succeeding leader as the opposite of his predecessor.  For example, under the cloud of scandal, the aggressive fund-raiser, Roberson was replaced as AD by his opposite: the less profit-minded, more flamboyant and humanistic Goss.  Then, after Goss led the UM AD to the brink of financial ruin, UM chose the opposite once again: a quiet, out-of-touch financier named Martin.  Ill-equipped for the myriad public relations disasters during the hiring and demise of RR, however, Martin himself was then also was replaced by a dramatically different type of AD: the publicity-seeking brand-maker Brandon.  His public relations campaign seemed to work wonders at first.  But the obsession with publicity and profit ended up making UM look far worse.

So what can we learn from the past forty years of UM’s athletic leadership choices?  Most clearly they have taught us what not to do—that is, just choose the opposite type of leader from the one you have now.  It does not work for very long.  Why?  When you choose a leader, he fills his program or department with one type of student or employee.  But if you then fire him and choose just the opposite type of leader, there is no growth in the program.  It is like putting matter together with anti-matter.  If they collide, what do you get?  They annihilate each other in a violent explosion.  In an organization, that means turnover, disorganization, and chaos.

So, no matter how angry we feel sometimes, we should learn from past experience.  We should recognize not just the bad in our past leaders and seek their opposites. We should also recognize the good in our past leaders, then search for new ones with their best characteristics.  The toughness of Bo, the fire of Moeller, the inventiveness of RR, the intellect of Carr, the likeability of Hoke.  The decision about whom we should choose now I leave to others, who are far more knowledgeable than me.

But IMO, only if we seek to see the Best in our own past Leaders can we hope to find the new Leaders and Best.