Given all of the heartbreaking incidents we are becoming aware of in our conference, it is important to also review Ann Arbor institutional behaviors.
Does Michigan hold to its words highlighted in the Amazon Prime Series answering when we will know if we had a good team?
"When you guys come back 15, 20 years from now, when we know what type of men you are, what kind of husbands you've become, what kind of fathers you are, then we'll know how good this football team is."-Bo Schembechler
The strong bond of brothers on a football team formed with players willing to commit violations absolutely influences behavior and thought with those around them, and any violence itself is felt by the victims and those around them, often for years. It is therefore never simply a single player issue, and never an issue that does not require attention of the football coach, the athletic department, university, local police department, and media (if these institutions are not doing their job).
[David Guralnick, Detroit News]
I have omitted player names in this audit. While they are publicly available (with some exceptions), I believe that just because we can doesn’t mean we should. While I do not mean to excuse their behavior, being in the spotlight at a formative age is not easy and as such it is up to the local institutions to develop them as good citizens. I firmly believe that the presence of heightened levels of player violation is really a result of institutional issues, and naming players provides an easy scapegoat for any institutional or fan based response to this study. Secondly, it wasn’t necessary to include these for purposes of replicability, as anyone can reconstruct this study based on publicly available information. This is as a result, more of an audit of the football programs and local institutions on how they treat, instruct, and mentor these young players. Do these institutions (the local police, university, athletic department and coaches and local media) place a reasonable demand that players follow the law, discipline players as appropriate to prevent repeated behavior, dismiss players from the team for larger issues, or do they give players some form of Carte Blanche, allowing poor behavior to fester?
[NBC Sports Chicago]
OSU was picked as a good comparator school to Michigan over this same time period out of the B1G in lieu of in-state MSU, as they are a national football program with an equally large recruiting footprint, and often recruit the same players, all important for this study. Also important to this study OSU has a comparable number of players on NFL rosters, and like Michigan faced similar scrutiny in early 2013 for prior handlings of football discipline, so both programs had equal incentive from early 2013 forward to improve. Additionally, MSU football has had so many player issues over the last several years that it appears more of an outlier. Putting aside the 2016 MSU football fiasco, one current MSU star athlete has had six cases of recidivism (subsequently committing similar illegal offenses) with no discipline. Comparing UM to MSU would, as a result, simply serve to make Michigan look good, and that was not my intent here. On the other hand, OSU refers to itself as “THEE”* Ohio State University (*A reference not lost on me) and as such I expected to find a comparative institution that upholds the highest values and regard for the enforcement of law and good order, as well as an institution that cultivates the most noble level of off-field behavior by its current and graduated players.
In addition to comparing these teams, I compare each team cohort over the five years to itself for players who graduated starting after the first year of the study (graduating in 2014 or later) and continuing to present, as this is the most logical comparison for the actual environment within the school. How are these same players behaving post-graduation once the potential for favoritism and cover ups is gone? Importantly, the major outside factor between these two cohorts, whether the local environment had any impact on change in player behavior pre and post-graduation, is actually part of the same question, are coaches and these institutions molding these players into good men. As such sample size is 550 player/years vs 250 player/years on average for the graduated cohort. It was doubly important to find the school with the closest number of drafted players to Michigan at, 42 vs 35 as some former player arrests may not make the news if they were not star players or are not now drafted. Given this, actual numbers under the post-graduation study may be higher, but this is at minimum a baseline. Conversely, it may be that the players with the highest chance of future violations are those who ended up drafted, the environment has the greatest inherent desire to protect them, bolstering entitlement.
Professionally my experience is that more times than I’d like, where there are internal issues with an organization, it is often a case of good people making a string of small and perceived logical (due conflicting pressures or motivations), but ultimately wrong choices. We need to hold the actual institutions responsible for fostering a good environment free of conflicting pressures and inferred preferences, and that is a leadership issue and as such one that the public should be holding coaches, the athletic department, university board, and local (and university) police departments to standard.
These are the days that make it all worth it! The amount of love & respect I received from @UMichFootball players and staff today was unreal. From the bottom of my heart, Thank you. #SetTheExpectation #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/V4e7t3Q0SZ— Brenda Tracy (@brendatracy24) August 2, 2018
Consider the mostly harmless impact of police officers being large fans of the local university, feeling that they know the players and coach. A large section of the local police force may be rabid fans of the local football team. Do you, as an officer, arrest a star player for an incident that did not necessarily harm someone, knowing that you will be ribbed by your co-workers for the entire season should your team lose a game because of it? Alternatively, an officer may feel that they know coach or the player (a good kid, in a bad situation), and that if the officer simply brings the issue to coach, that the program will “handle it” internally, and in doing so their duty ends. Coach may even have given a speech to the police force, telling them that his otherwise good players only only do bad things because of bad external influences, and that if the police can remove the bad influences from his players he will take care of them, insinuating that coach knows how to handle player discipline instead of the police. Coaches at a bare minimum must avoid placing any form of pressure or collaboration towards the police department that might lead to favoritism. Likewise prosecutorial discretion starts at the officer level. On all sides, environment needs to be managed top-down and it is never simply a coaching or police officer issue. It is senior leadership’s job to know and act.
A) Sample sizes are small here, and as an outsider I was only able to pull data that the institutions (university, police and/or media) publicly report. Knowing this, I attempted to compare certain reported statistics that could be indicative of internal corruption. The strength (if any) of this study is therefore within the trends over all of the metrics rather than simple results of aggregating incident totals.
B) Data was included where there was a publicly known player incident or infraction involving police (either citation or arrest or police report when the police report had information whereby a reasonable officer could have made an arrest or citation) that had been reported to the athletic department or coach involving a violation or likely violation of law.
C) Any errors are either my own, or a product of lack of transparency. Any errors in press transparency, likely only reduced reported results rather than inflated them. I pulled this data from a high end search engine, using around 40 words in combination or separate.
I have included spreadsheets for both UM Violations and OSU Violations where you can find full breakouts (absent player names) for the two base cohorts. Taken as a whole, these provide a broad technical picture from the outside of potential lack of discipline and or likelihood for cover ups. For simplicity I have counted every negative situation as having a value of one, and the positive ones as having a value of negative one. Simply put, numbers are indicative of potential issues, and the higher the total number, the more likelihood that potential corruption, cover ups, lack of oversight, lack of adequate mentoring and monitoring exist.
Base metric- Recorded instances of potential violation of law by current players- 2013 to present
This metric simply tells us what was publicly recorded. It is useful, but only to a point as the data may be recorded in a higher percentage of occurrences at certain institutions, for example. Additionally, I don’t meant to make light of this, many of these incidents caused substantial harm to the victim, and there may have been more instances the public was not made aware of.
UM; 11 OSU; 18
Base metric- Weighted instances (by player/year) of potential violation of law by former players- 2014 to present cohort
This metric tends to show us how these same players acted after they were no longer protected by the local system. It tends to show two things, whether there was underreporting or cover up for this same cohort while within the local system, and secondly, whether or not the local system did anything to develop and mature the players into the men we want them to be. I will note that the combination of these two cohort comparisons is the cleanest and broadest possible. Based on these results alone, Michigan has changed something so that it is producing only good members of society while it appears that either OSU players have gotten worse post-graduation, or the local environment is no longer around to quietly clean up some devastating conduct.
UM; 0 OSU; 20
Instances where the player was charged with a violation, but where no discipline was assessed. This might indicate that discipline is not impartial or that the athletic department feels it cannot afford to lose a player. Within this metric I have included instances where discipline was handled “internally” but there was no obvious suspension or real “harm” to the team or player.
UM; 1 OSU; 2
Instances where evidence indicates a player did violate a law, but no discipline was assessed and where the local police did not arrest or charge the player. This does not include the above instances, and may tend to indicate the potential for police involvement in actual cover-ups.
UM; 0 OSU; 3
Non-dismissals for verified assault by the player
Both of these metrics may indicate that the coaching staff or athletic department believes that it is more valuable to have a player who assaults people on the team, than it would be to get bad influences away from the rest of the team or otherwise do the right thing.
Instances where video evidence makes clear that a player was the aggressor and made contact with a person but where the player was not dismissed as a result.
UM; 0 OSU; 3
Instances where both parties agree that the player was the aggressor and that contact was made by the player, but where the player was not dismissed as a result. This did not include instances involving video or photo evidence as displayed above.
UM; 0 OSU; 4
Unfair discipline for starters vs non-starters for similar violations
This metric may indicate that the coaching staff is more interested in appearance of discipline and in winning at all costs than actually making players into better members of society, acting fairly, and rooting out non-performance issues within the team.
UM; 0 OSU; 6
Recidivism (same player subsequently committing the same or similar violations)
This may indicate that the environment is not fostering good behavior in players; that coaches are not serious about discipline, and that players feel that they may do as they wish regardless of the law.
UM; 1 OSU; 8
Documented instances of players trying to get out of violations of law due to their status as a player
This may indicate that the environment is so toxic to the law of good order that players have experience getting out of violations due to their status as a player. I was really hoping not to see any of these.
UM; 0 OSU; 1
Documented instances of coaches or the athletic department attempting to fight against discipline for players accused of serious violations.
This may indicate that the coaching staff or athletic department has more focus on winning than in doing the right thing relative to a reasonable disciplinary result.
UM; 0 OSU; 1
Instances of documented victims of assault withdrawing their claim with no prosecutorial/investigative follow up
This may indicate that a victim was silenced or pressured into withdrawing a claim, and that the local prosecutors’ office or police department placed a higher value on the player’s ability to play than the victim’s rights and what the law required.
UM; 0 OSU; 2
Incidents only covered by news outlets in other cities with no subsequent known local reporting.
This metric tends to indicate if there is local reporting bias or intent to assist cover ups, possibly for increased access. As an underhand lob to the underdog I included 11warriors as a local media channel as upon review traditional local Columbus media really did not cover OSU scandal more than 50% of the time (essentially when national media was also reporting).
UM; 0 OSU; 6
Additionally, I have included two metrics that might support that the local environment is acting appropriately. These below instances count in the negative as we hope to see some of this if the system is working appropriately.
Charges filed against players that were overturned by courts or did not otherwise result in convictions or guilty pleas.
This metric might indicate that local police are willing to arrest, and prosecutors to charge, in cases where they do not have to but where they might, in short that the system is working as it should. I included within this metric instances where the main or serious charge was dismissed due to lack of evidence and not simply due to plea bargain.
UM; -3 OSU; 0
Citations that did not require appearance.
This metric may indicate that local police are willing to cite players for small issues that officers typically have some discretion over. For example, public urination behind a building, jaywalking, jumping off a bridge into the Huron River, or other things done by many college students every year.
UM; -1 OSU; 0
This combined metric may indicate over all data points that potential corruption, incident cover ups, lack of oversight, lack of adequate mentoring and other issues exist within a program and the local environment, in short that there is a lack of local leadership and accountability within multiple local institutions from the coaching staff, athletic department, police department, local news, and even university and local government oversight. (Higher numbers are bad as each value indicates one instance of potential non-compliance with various requirements).
UM; 9 OSU; 74
To cross check this I have briefly added percentages over several criteria to determine whether there is some support for the output of our metrics.
Percentage of recorded instances involving verified assault.
This may indicate, if documented assault percentages are high in relation to the comparator school, that there are more frequent cover ups of lesser violations, as logically players are more likely to commit lesser violations than greater ones and at a rate that may be consistent across schools. Note here that it appears that Michigan has lower instances of verified assault, even though the local environment appears more willing to fully investigate rather than cover up these issues. Also of note, according to his new contract, Urban Meyer was required to have reported these seven instances. If he has not, the university has cause should it care about such things.
UM; 3=27% OSU; 7=39%
Percentage of player violations that resulted in dismissal.
This may indicate, relative to the comparator school, if the school has a focus on doing the right thing, or winning at all costs.
UM; 4=36% OSU; 3=17%
Percentage of known incidents not fully reported in any venue.
This may indicate the presence of cover up schemes not only within the coaching staff and local police, but within the local media circles as well.
UM; 0=0% OSU; 4=22%
[Indiana Sports Coverage]
Full Results: Surprisingly, there is a drop off in non-victim local arrests for OSU post championship season. On the Michigan side, it appears that discipline was significantly harsher over the full course of this study; even for small infractions, and local police do not grant Michigan players as many free passes. As a result, there has been only one marginal case of a Michigan player (or former player) recidivism. Possibly the most interesting aspect of this data is that it tends to show that treating players as if they are above the law or handling potential law enforcement issues internally has the undesired outcome of recidivism. I have high hopes that in 10-15 years, these Michigan players will have become the men the University wants them to be. As well, I hold out hope that there is a buckeye out there somewhere with the courage and leadership to fix what’s going on in Columbus.
Four Ohio State Football incidents uncovered that require some explanation. (No less known Michigan football incidents were uncovered during this same time period)
Most incidents can likely be easily verified from expeditious internet browsing, however some may be harder to do so given the lack of information put out by the media, local police department, and athletic department, so they require some explanations below.
1) The rape investigation into two or three football players that went nowhere.
Here’s what we do know: In February of 2013 OSU police began to investigate a rape charge filed by a student against two football players that occurred in the dorm room of the two players, and involved a third football player and possibly a cell phone recording of the encounter. According to the girl, she was interested in one player, but his roommate came in and forced himself on her as well. According to one player who was interviewed by campus police sometime in February of 2013, he was fooling around with the girl and started to have second thoughts so he left, and when he came back she was doing something with his roommate. According to the campus police warrant, they had cause to believe a player’s cell phone contained a video of the encounter and as of 3/13/2013 were going to try to get that phone. No explanation as to why it took one month for university police to begin to proceed to get a warrant for the phone (or had not done so within one month), or why the other players had not been interviewed over that month period, especially as the one player’s version of events substantiated the victims allegations that both players had been involved with the girl and that the girl had come to his room to see only one player. The only related discipline from that year was when a non-starter was dismissed from the team for obstruction of police handed out four months later. As the only known investigation for which a player could be charged with obstruction of police at the time was this one, it is the simplest explanation to assume these are related. However local news never reported the player names and the university police never explained what they found or what actions they took in their investigation, and when they took that action, or when the complaint was filed. Any internal investigation should examine who these players were, and whether appropriate action was taken, as well as whether or not Meyer accurately reported the incident. As an additional note, the local media should be questioned on why they did not release these player names "as they had not been charged", when they have done so in other situations.
2) The player accused of harassing a female university tutor.
A player was reported by his female athletic department tutor for harassment (I have a hard time believing it was anything but sexual harassment, but we don’t know for sure, and any way you dice it, it’s super creepy and wrong). The university itself (outside of the athletic department) decided to suspend the football player for the fall semester (we have no idea if it was after an investigation or if there was evidence, etc, and Meyer stated publicly that he vehemently disagreed with this decision. The university did not give a reason for the suspension, but Toledo news reported the actual allegation. Any internal OSU investigation should consider whether that whistleblower employed within the athletic department remains employed, if she suffered any retaliation, or whether if gone, she left on her own terms.
3) The star player cited at fault in a crash while driving with a suspended license.
A third incident that raises concerns of lack of past reporting was when the star running back was cited for his fault in a crash, and for having driven with a suspended license. Obvious concerns exist as he was not given any discipline when similarly situated employees had been, however of more concern is that there was no publicly reported indication prior indicating that he had done anything to get his license suspended, so whatever incident resulted in a suspended license was not reported to the public. As this event occurred in his fourth year at OSU, it is safe to say whatever had happened to get a suspended license happened while he was a player. As a caveat there are reasons a player could have his license suspended that did not involve prior incidents, but this was a star player and we simply do not know because it appears local media did not want to ask.
4) When police had enough evidence to establish a star player was the aggressor and physically violent towards a woman, but nothing happened.
A fourth incident uncovered that raised some concerns was when a star player had the police called to his apartment for domestic violence. The victim alleged she was choked on the bed. The player admitted to pushing the victim into furniture but nothing else. While there was no doubt between the parties statements that the star player had been the aggressor and had committed violence, police made no arrests but did send a police report to the prosecutor's office for referral where it died, no explanation given. The most likely scenario is that the victim withdrew her complaint, potentially after being told what would happen to the player if she didn’t, however we do not know for sure due to lack of any transparency. As a result of the lack of formal charge or an arrest, the star player received no discipline. Any internal investigation should consider whether Meyer reported this incident. While he gave no discipline and no charges were assessed, evidence was clear that domestic violence had occurred and as such he was required to report it.
5) When Urban Meyer pressured the county prosecutor and a victim.
In addition to these incidents, I would suggest that any internal OSU investigation consider the player who in 2013 struck a woman in a bar, on camera, according to a reporter who watched the video. The victim decided to withdraw her complaint, and the prosecutor not to pursue charges, the victime possibly based on fear of being kicked out of school or simple harassment from students, and the prosecutor possibly to protect his seat, after Urban Meyer stated that if charges were filed the player would be kicked off the team, and as such the player received a suspension for three non-conference games. Unknown is whether any threat was made against this victim or whether she voluntarily elected to withdraw her complaint, or whether the prosecutor’s office elected not to file charges based on Meyer’s public statement regarding the star player. As the video indicates the player made contact with a female student, Meyer should have reported this, and any investigation should look into whether he reported this incident as well as examine whether the institution, athletic department, or students pressured this victim into withdrawing her complaint. Finally, any investigation should look into whether Meyer’s public comment that if the player were charged, he would have to dismiss him, had any impact on the prosecutor’s decision to not charge the star player; did Ron O’Brien, long time unchallenged Franklin County prosecutor who has been accused of acting with favoritism, have reason to believe an action against Meyer’s wish would potentially place, for the first time, a challenger to his position in the general election?