U-M admissions preventing Jack Hughes, Bode Wilde from playing at Michigan

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on June 20th, 2018 at 9:09 PM

Think they were both fine students. But hockey with as much change in schools for the players as they jump junior programs can complicate transcripts and admissions.

— Michael Spath (@MichaelSpathITH) June 21, 2018

If we can take a WR who wrote a one paragraph "essay" comparing and contrasting food and sex on the grounds that they both make him feel good, and a bball player who wrote that his fav thing about himself is that he's tall & wears a hat, you can get Jack Hughes into school early.

— Yost Built (@YostBuilt) June 21, 2018

Based on Spath's earlier tweet + stuff that has previously come out, admissions have cost Michigan Wilde and chances at Hughes and Wahlstrom this summer. That's just swell. I can't even imagine how frustrating that has to be for the coaches.

— Yost Built (@YostBuilt) June 21, 2018

I get that it's a university and "student athlete" still means something, but holy hell. It'd be just tragic if the entire (potential) new first family of US hockey attended the school. That'd sure suck to hear every time Emerick calls one of their games.

— Yost Built (@YostBuilt) June 21, 2018



June 20th, 2018 at 9:14 PM ^

Yost Built is a valuable resource for Michigan Hockey and a great fan of the program, but I think he's off base here. At least with regards to Jack Hughes, Spath made it pretty clear a month or so ago that there was a hefty load of work ahead for him to accelerate his schooling to make it on campus that fall; he further said that it would be pretty clear before or at the time of the NHL draft (when the other factor, the ultimate destination of Quinn, is decided) whether or not Jack was on track to finish high school a year early.

It is obvious, then, that Jack is not right now on track to graduate from high school a year early and go to college. That's not a knock on him, because he was only scheduled to be a senior in high school this year, and it's not like he hasn't been really busy with hockey besides. Doing another year of HS in three or four months? That's a lot.

So it's not like Michigan is keeping a guy out on a technicality, he's not not done with high school yet. 

No real idea what's going on with Wilde. But it doesn't surprise me that first round NHL draft prospects aren't always going the extra mile on academics. They are going to get rich playing hockey, it's what they love, it's their first priority. 

JWG Wolverine

June 20th, 2018 at 9:24 PM ^

I love how even though your MGoPoint total is an outrageous glitch as you've said, it's clear people are surprised to hear it ISN'T real.

Haven't taken the opportunity but I want to thank you stephenrjking for your incredibly reasonable, well-informed, and knowledgable takes on this blog. It's guys like you and umbig11 that make this board a great extension of this site!


June 20th, 2018 at 9:26 PM ^

Good summary of what Spath said... it's not that Hughes has taken classes and done poorly in them, but that he's simply not had the time to take all the classes he needs in the first place in order to qualify. That's not Michigan's fault.

These hockey players have a completely different life in HS than most basketball players—many of the hockey kids don't play for HS teams (if those teams exist at all) but rather are playing for independently sponsored teams that might be playing games hundreds of miles away from their homes. That plays hell with attending to academics.

The vast majority of basketball players by contrast are playing for their high school teams within close distances to their homes, and since they're in HS on a daily basis, it's far more feasible to do what's necessary to get academically qualified.

If it were as feasible for basketball players to go directly to the pros out of HS as it is for hockey, college basketball would very quickly lose a large portion of its best players to the pros, or to its minor leagues.


June 20th, 2018 at 9:31 PM ^

I hear what you're saying. I clearly don't know all the details behind it, but a kid that good, get him freaking in. Yeah, if it's that he's not gonna be able to graduate from high school in time, fine. (Bring him in mid-season, hint hint!) If it's that they're being a PITA about not having certain classes, I really don't care.

I was around enough barely literate athletes (who weren't stars or even starters in a lot of cases) when I was in school to be under some illusion that we don't make exceptions. Costing us a chance at 3 first round talents in less than a month is hard to deal with. It ain't like BC is a bad school. Wilde was going to try to go to Harvard. I'm guessing he isn't dumb either (though I don't know that for sure).

I get that student athlete still has student in the name, but I'm also past pretending that college sports is about anything more than money. I want another natty already, and I want to be able to claim the entire new first family of US Hockey. That'd sure suck to get that much pub for the school. 


June 20th, 2018 at 9:42 PM ^

Wahlstrom and Wilde are more open questions. We don't know what was going on with them (did Wilde have a LOI signed that keeps him from going somewhere else, or is he just choosing to skip college for whatever reason anyway?) and it's fair to wonder if a better job could have been done to get them in. It's clear that Mel wanted them in.

I don't think the Hughes situation is comparable, even though the top-line cause (academics) may look the same. Hughes isn't just missing a key class, but a whole year of high school.


June 20th, 2018 at 9:59 PM ^

Yeah, if it's a case where Hughes just wasn't gonna be able to graduate then I get it. You aren't gonna let someone in that hasn't graduated high school. If they're being finicky about classes he's taken, though, and making the mountain higher than it needed to be, that's what would annoy me. It annoyed me when it came up with the other Ole Miss guys, too, when they talked about credits not transferring. 

Spath has said Wilde couldn't get in. Whether that's grades or complications I don't know. 

At the end of the day, I just want another damn title. These kids are all highly likely to be going pro in sports, and playing at Michigan would likely help them get to their chose career, which is the whole point of college.

Just a lot of gut punches in a row between 3 guys not getting past admissions and some high profile decommits. It's sapping a lot of the positive momentum that last year gave us. If Hughes leaves, I don't know that that is a tournament team unless Mann is a total stud. (Which he might be.)


June 20th, 2018 at 10:33 PM ^

I was really excited by the possibility of having the two Hughes boys playing on the same ice, in addition to all of the others. So this is a let-down, a bit. But it's kind of baked into the program--when you recruit prospects of that caliber, some of them aren't going to make it to campus, and others won't stay long.

I think Mel is recruiting with that in mind, and it's notable that there are like three guys ready to come in if Michigan has space on the roster. 

The team has already done considerably better than I thought it would in year one (or even year two) so a moderate step back this coming year isn't a disaster. But yeah, I want that tenth title, too. With Jack and Wilde and maybe Wahlstrom, that was a real possibility. The year will be a slog now, but Mel is playing with high stakes and sooner or later that's going to bear fruit.


June 21st, 2018 at 4:58 AM ^

I would argue that college is actually about more than just getting to your chosen career. It's also about learning to be an informed, capable citizen, and freeing your mind from misconceptions that can make you a miserable person, but I know not everyone sees it that way.


June 20th, 2018 at 11:00 PM ^

FWIW here is what Zach Shaw wrote about it today:

On Jack Hughes, I was able to corroborate Michael Spath’s report that Jack Hughes — the common pick to be selected first in the 2019 NHL Draft — will not accelerate his high school education and join the Wolverines in the fall. I’m told this was not due to Jack’s lack of interest, but more of a logistical hurdle that couldn’t be overcome in the eyes of Michigan’s admissions department.


June 21st, 2018 at 9:40 AM ^

Completely agree, I would love to see another Hughes here. But, if the kid hasn't finished high school you can't accept him into the University, just because he is good at hockey.  I would rather see UM keep it's standards and continue to be the top public university in the country, rather then bend rules for one athlete.


June 20th, 2018 at 9:26 PM ^

Gotta love an OP who criticizes the school for placing academic standards over hockey scholarships. Fans like this one explain so much these days.


June 20th, 2018 at 10:43 PM ^

AMEN...and trust me when I say, I went to school with some incredibly questionable 'student' athletes in my day. Some possibly due to their ability and being pushed through high school, coming in completely incapable of adapting to college academics, etc. I also know if these kids couldn't get into UM, they probably couldn't get into UM...maybe not their capability, maybe not thier own doing...but if admissions wouldn't find a way, it wasn't going to happen. My first semester classes were loaded with guys who had higher numbers in the 40 than IQ points...


June 21st, 2018 at 1:10 PM ^

I took a spring History class once, back in 1985. Had Antoine Joubert in my class, he was D-U-M-B. Had a few football players in there as well, they slept most of the time. Can time for the final exam and they show up with their Blue books already filled out. They had the test in advance...:) One of them saw me looking at him and he just shrugged his shoulders and smiled. 

So yes, no illusions about our admissions process when it comes to athletes. 

El Jeffe

June 20th, 2018 at 9:34 PM ^

I don't know anything about this particular case. But having worked at a D1/R1 school for 15 years and seen how admissions committees work, even at a school far less prestigious than UM, I tend to trust the admissions office. Those men and women tend to know what they're doing.

I'd feel bad if UM lost a great hockey player or two for reasons outside of their or UM's control, but the admissions office is the last place I'd look to assign blame if blame is to be assigned.


June 20th, 2018 at 10:11 PM ^

The admissions office makes all kinds of concessions for sports. If these guys weren’t getting cleared it’s almost certainly for legit reasons because if it was possible to get them in, they’d be in.

SMart WolveFan

June 20th, 2018 at 10:20 PM ^

As long as the young adults have the option to get paid professionally for their highly profitable skill, I'd actually prefer the higher academic standards; it's when they don't have that choice that i feel especially bad for the student.

Great thing is that college hockey has proven itself an excellent feeder league to the NHL, so the team should still get some great players either way.


June 21st, 2018 at 12:47 AM ^

Former admissions officer here. Back in my day, you were generally admitted if you met the NCAA standards. It sounds like Jack never took the required NCAA core courses (see http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/future/core-courses). IMO it is on the coaches to make sure the student will qualify and whoever was recruiting him dropped the ball.


June 21st, 2018 at 1:10 PM ^

"Dropped the ball" just cannot be considered an accurate description based on the facts. Jack Hughes isn't a high school graduate who has a hole in his resume that the staff overlooked; he is a player who just finished his junior year for whom the staff was doing everything they could to get into school. 

Jack's situation is unique, because the only way he was going to play college hockey was by finishing high school a year early. This only became apparent in the last season as he emerged as the potential #1 overall pick in the 2019 draft.

So with that came the need to accelerate schooling, but not a lot of time to do so. It's hard enough just doing a year of high school with all of the travel the NTDP requires (including a USHL season, exhibitions against college teams, and some important international tournaments) much less getting a second year in on the side. So everything is pushed to the late spring. The idea that the Michigan athletic department, including at least a couple of people that went through this with Zach Werenski, was unaware of the challenge or of the requirements is ludicrous. 

You can make sure a graduating senior has all of his boxes checked, sure. But this isn't the situation here. This is a very busy hockey player for whom there simply wasn't enough time to complete everything that needed to be completed. He's not getting frozen out because he graduated high school but was missing a technicality on his transcript; this is a person who would need to finish a year of high school over summer break while training to be the #1 pick in the NHL draft at the same time. 


June 21st, 2018 at 1:43 PM ^

There are pretty clear rules for the NCAA requirements. It is the coaches responsibility to obtain the students' transcripts and list of in progress classes and make sure they meet the requirements (they have checksheets). If they don't, the coach needs to help the student develop a plan to meet the requirements through traditional, summer, online, or dual enrollment classes and inform the student if they do not follow through, they will not be allowed to play. Coaches do this for EVERY student athlete. This is not an exceptional situation.