Does Michigan Have Higher Academic Requirements for Athletes?

Submitted by tenerson on December 31st, 2010 at 12:05 AM

I am just wondering if someone could tell me if Michigans academic requirement's pertaining to athletes are different than the average Division 1 program. If someone has a link explaining it or can tell me they are the same as everywhere else that would be great as well.



December 31st, 2010 at 12:10 AM ^

I don't have a link, but I can tell you that with very few exceptions, we'll take any HS senior athlete who meets the NCAA minimums.  We are stricter when it comes to transfers.


December 31st, 2010 at 12:11 AM ^

I'm sure "James Burill Angel" could expand, but....

I think the athletic department is given a certain amount of commits that they are allowed to accept, given they meet a certain academic standard that is less than the general admissions standard but greater than NCAA minimums.  Once a team fills this alotment, the student-athletes are handled on a case-by-case basis. 

From what I can tell/remember, UM does have standards higher than NCAA minimums (case in point: Demar Dorsey), but to what extent is a little fuzzy.

This is what I remember being posted by MGoPosters in the past, so take it for what it's worth.


December 31st, 2010 at 12:29 AM ^

Absolutely, I'm not discounting that... I'm just pointing out that it appeared that Dorsey had the NCAA requirements.  They certainly came into question and Michigan did not admit him.

My original point was that of someone who posted here from the U-Tennessee admission department (or maybe athletic department) who said that ADs are generally given an alotment of students they can admit that would not be admitted without an athletic scholarship.  Once this alotment is filled they handle it on a case-by-base basis.

I don't remember the name of that poster... it'd be awesome if he could chime in!


December 31st, 2010 at 12:45 AM ^

If we have an allotment of students with sub-standard grades/tests that can be admitted, I can assure you it does not apply to the football team.  It may apply to sports like soccer, where most guys are on partial scholarships.  The football program can get any HS senior who meets the NCAA standards admitted.  I literally cannot name a kid in the last decade who got rejected by U-M but was eligible to play elsewhere.  If Dorsey's qualification had not been red flagged, he'd have gotten in.

The one area where we have higher standards than the NCAA minimum is regarding transfers.  We have a hard time getting JUCOs in.  Otherwise we're bringing in pretty much the same caliber of student as everyone else.


December 31st, 2010 at 12:51 AM ^

I don't know why you would insinuate it may apply to other sports like soccer and not football...

I think you're mis-reading my posts.  In order of high academic accomplishments:

  1. Students admitted to UM (all).
  2. Student-athletes admitted to UM, would be admitted w/o athletic accomplishments.
  3. Student-athletes admitted to UM, below UM academic standards (the "alottment" I speak of).
  4. Student-athletes meeting NCAA minimums that the admissions office looks at on a case-by-case basis.
  5. Student-athletes that do not meet NCAA requirements


Not claiming this to be 100% accurate, but this is what I've gathered from knowledgable posters here.

And the number of people that fall into "case 4" is very slim, from what I've gathered.  Hopefully, someone can provide a more accurate insight.

Zone Left

December 31st, 2010 at 12:43 AM ^

I'd guess very few scholarship football players would be admitted absent an endorsement from the AD. Before we start praising our lofty standards for athletes, realize that the average Freshman SAT score was 1283--almost 300 points higher. They get into school to play football. Everything else is secondary once the mins are met.

Think about how often folks praise recruits' grades when they hit 3.4 or so. That's a bad high school profile for a normal applicant today.


December 31st, 2010 at 12:46 AM ^

would be a better example.  He was qualified under NCAA standards but was not admitted by UM admissions, if I recall correctly. 

(Not to suggest I have specific inside knowledge on his circumstance, I just recall that being the popular explanation)


December 31st, 2010 at 12:23 AM ^



School, Average SAT score (out of 1600)

  • Georgia Tech, 1028
  • Oregon State, 997
  • Michigan, 997
  • Virginia, 993
  • Purdue, 974
  • Indiana, 973
  • Hawaii, 968
  • California, 967
  • Colorado, 966
  • Iowa, 964

Big Ten athletes average between 11 and 20 on their ACT, Northwestern didn't report their athlete's ACT scores.  Division I athletics use a "sliding scale" to determine admissions, meaning the higher their high school GPA, the lower the requirement on the ACT is.

tn wolverine

December 31st, 2010 at 12:30 AM ^

Yes, but once you're admitted get your butt to class. Do all your work and don't leave your team stuck over a barrell. I'm talking to you Tate Forcier. (wagging finger with a disappointed expression on face).

Zone Left

December 31st, 2010 at 12:32 AM ^

The OP is referring to the comment that Forcier didn't meet university standards. My guess is that those exactly equal NCAA mins for eligibility. I posted mins I found in one of the OMG! Forcier threads, and they were slightly below 2.0 for a Sophomore. I can't imagine Michigan being stricter because a lot of kids have awful Freshman years and dig out in subsequent years.


December 31st, 2010 at 12:40 AM ^

Good point.  This question usually comes up with admissions standards, but the OP was probably referring to gereral academic requirements for current students.

For the record: as you allude to, students are on probration if their semester GPA is lower than a 2.0 (solid C).…


December 31st, 2010 at 1:20 AM ^

I read the same article.  My daughter is currently an Engineering student at Michigan and from what I can surmise they do not inflate like a lot of other schools.  They run more on a traditional bell curve.  It is definitely an issue as more UM students are going to be showing Cs than grads from other schools...but hopefully that is recognized.


December 31st, 2010 at 5:13 AM ^

Both my sons went to Michigan, one got a Phd in EE and the other is getting his MS in computer engineering.  There may be a bell curve at some point, but it sure as heck isn't in advanced level undergraduate courses, nor would you want one.  By the time you are taking third and fourth year undergrad courses you have a pretty select crowd of start giving lots of C's or lower, assuming the student does reasonably well in the course, would be unfair, as all of these kids are pretty damned smart and hard workers to have made it that far.

As far as your comment about grades from Michigan being recognized as lower than some schools, I can tell you for a fact that med schools don't make that distinction, at least for U of M's med school.

When you look at the SAT scores for football players, at Michigan and elsewhere, they really are a joke compared to the SAT admission numbers for the regular student body. I can understand giving jocks some latitude, as their days during the season are grueling, but this latest Tate thing has me feeling sick and is just another stain on our program generally and cannot help our recruiting.


December 31st, 2010 at 1:25 AM ^

Which means to be eligible to play you need to be in average academic standing; for scholarship athletes admitted with lower academic standards that 2.0 GPA is harder to hit, especially given the time commitment to their scholarship points.  General Studies & Kineseology exist for a reason.


December 31st, 2010 at 10:16 AM ^

Assuming Michigan is anything like Pitt where I went to grad school and tutored student-athletes, they get all the help they could possibly use.  Any kid in an athletic program has free access to all the tutoring that they could want.  That includes help with homework and such - much of which is graded. 

For the record, I really didn't like tutoring most of the kids in football and men's and women's b-ball.  Many (but not all) of those kids didn't care about academics and took ridiculous classes like Pre-Algebra, the start of which was addition of three digit numbers.  Things like:  324 + 797 = ?.  Seriously?  How is 7th/8th grade math a college math class?

Pitt isn't as good of a school as Michigan, but they aren't that far apart either.  I bring all of this up because it really isn't all that difficult to get a 2.0 GPA when you are taking classes like these - even if you are practicing and working out as much as these kids do.


December 31st, 2010 at 12:38 AM ^

I believe the NCAA has a minimum, the Big Ten has a minimum, and Michigan has a minimum, each higher than the previous.  If a player is above the NCAA and Big Ten minimum, but below the school minimum, they go in front of a board of professors/administrators to plea their case to be eligible to play. This was what the controversy a few years ago was about, because the members of this board are given all expenses-paid trips to these bowl games, which they might not get if they didnt allow certain players to play causing the team to lose more games. So it could be a conflict of interest...i guess


December 31st, 2010 at 12:42 AM ^


If they can get through the NCAA Clearinghouse, they can play for U-M.  Now, in the case of Demar Dorsey, we see that they do still have to make it through the office of admissions, but his academics were exceptionally low for a Michigan recruit, so not much of a surprise there.

I would say that Michigan is perceived to hold their athletes to a higher standard, but providing they can keep up with coursework in a general studies or sports management degree, we're not all that picky about their academics.


December 31st, 2010 at 12:47 AM ^

at a top-50 nationally ranked university with an FBS football team.  The answer to your question is both yes and no.

The way it works is that various universities have a certain number of spots for what they will allow for what they consider non-standard admits.   This definition varies at different schools.  What it meant at the school that I worked for is students with a class ranking below 50% in their high school.  (Caveat:  I know a lot of high schools say they "do not rank their students" but 98% of schools will give either a decile ranking (i.e. 2nd decile = 10-20%) or give a grade distribution chart that makes it pretty easy to figure out where the student placed in their class when you look at their transcript).  UM would have fewer spots for non-standard athletes than, say, Alabama, who likely can take whomever they want for all 85 scholarships.  At the same time, it is likely that they have more spots than say a Stanford, Duke, or Wake Forest.

This way, UM can take athletes who barely scrape by NCAA Clearinghouse just as Stanford will as well.  The difference is in the percentage of the team that the UM admissions office allows to be non-standard. 

Of the athletes who are considered "standard" admits, many still will fall below the test scores/GPA's/Class Ranking of the "standard" UM freshman.  They will, however, fall within the range of what UM will consider for a standard student.  So while most of UM's freshman may have been in the top 10% of their HS classes and have an average SAT of say 1200, they admissions department would be happy to accept a Sudanese immigrant who works two jobs and managed to scrape his way into the top 30% of his HS class and did not do well on the SAT because that immigrant will bring a lot of diversity to the incoming class.  The football players who are considered "standard" often get the same kind of treatment.  There will still be a few athletes like Craig Roh who would likely get admitted on academics alone, but not usually very many among the scholarship athletes. 

If I had to guess, the average UM recruiting class would breakdown something like this:

Out of 20 recruits:

1-2 Would get admitted to UM even if they didn't know a football from a doorknob

8-10 "Standard" Admits

10 "Non-Standard" Admits


December 31st, 2010 at 12:55 AM ^

If you ever read The Wolverine's recruiting issue, which reports recruits' grades and test scores in their profiles, we definitely aren't bringing in 8-10 guys with normal U-M qualifications in a typical year.  Maybe not even half that.  The average recruit will have like a 3.0 and an ACT in the low 20's (SAT in the 900-1000 range) - and those are the reported grades, which may well be exaggerated.   


December 31st, 2010 at 11:03 AM ^

You'll note he called it "standard" and above wrote that this was still less than UM's normal incoming freshmen.


That's an interesting breakdown from someone with experience in an another admissions program. I wrote about it a long time ago in the Dorsey situation when I interviewed a person who formerly worked in UM admissions.


Michigan will get who they need in so long as they qualify, more or less.