It costs a lot of money to get this level of performance from your employees, and the University of Michigan isn’t afraid to spend the money.

The director of performance for UM’s football team receives $250,000 a year for knowing how to perform.

Recently, during a very long night of challenges, he hit all his marks and then some.

UM, a once impressive school, is now mainly known for drunks and Rich Rodriguez.

“I will not be watching Michigan play Rutgers… I cannot in good conscience support the coaches who are putting this team at real physical risk.”

One thing you can say for American university football. It’s giving writers an opportunity to have their Martin Luther moment and make a huge deal out of having a conscience.

For here is yet another football (well, Michigan football) boycotter, a person eager to share with us her willingness to, in good conscience, put up with scummy Rick Rodriguez as coach of the team, but not Brady Hoke… Brady Hoke who is about to cost the University of Michigan even more millions to get rid of than Rodriguez, and Rodriguez cost it oodles of millions…

Yes, it’s all been a pretty spectacle – The multimillionaire coach keeping a concussed player in the game is just the latest classy move from a school increasingly indistinguishable from Auburn. Scroll through my University of Michigan posts over the last few years (start here) if you have the stomach for it.

(Oh – and the game the latest Here I Stand fan is boycotting? It’s against Rutgers. Rutgers! Talk about a scum cosmic convergence. Rutgers.)

Course clustering, yes. Rich Rodriguez, yes. Pretend independent studies, yes.

Fireworks at the football stadium, no.

After all, the University of Michigan is

not Comerica Park or a Super Bowl or Disney World or a circus. Enough is enough. [Our stadium should be] a place that resists the excesses of our culture.

Thus sayeth the classy trustees at U Mich, where Chapel Hill-style manipulation of courses seems to have been routine, where Mary Sue Coleman carried on an expensive, ill-fated romance with Rich Rodriguez, where… ick. Enough. More than enough.

Meet one of the University of Michigan’s most highly compensated, highly respected professors.

While he appeared a grandfatherly academic, Dr. [Sidney] Gilman, 80, was living a parallel life, one in which he regularly advised a wide network of Wall Street traders through a professional matchmaking system. Those relationships afforded him payments of $100,000 or more a year — on top of his $258,000 pay from the University of Michigan — and travels with limousines, luxury hotels and private jets. … Dr. Gilman made a sharp shift in his late 60s, from a life dedicated to academic research to one in which he accumulated a growing list of financial firms willing to pay him $1,000 an hour for his medical expertise, while he was overseeing drug trials for various pharmaceutical makers. … Colleagues now say Dr. Gilman’s story is a reminder of the corrupting influence of money. The University of Michigan, where he was a professor for decades, has erased any trace of him on its Web sites, and is now reviewing its consulting policy for employees, a spokesman said.

[Gilman] has been ostracized by the university, and the consequences are broader still as a debate over the propriety of professors’ receiving payments from financial firms has been rekindled.

“What is the argument for sanctioning your full-time faculty, using your brand name, to advise the financial sector?” said Dr. Garret A. FitzGerald, a cardiovascular researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, who has been outspoken about conflicts of interest. “What’s the public good there?”

Oh pish posh. What’s the public good of Michigan’s president, Mary Sue Coleman, collecting huge sums from corporate boards for doing little other than attending meetings that cut into the time she can devote to the university? Was she distracted by her corporate boarding when she insisted on the catastrophic hiring of Rich Rodriguez?

Colleagues can nod their heads sagely about the corrupting influence of money, but really. When the president of Gilman’s university is as subject to greed as Goldman Sachs executive compensation rubber-stamper Ruth Simmons was, why should Gilman have felt uneasy about his own acquisitiveness?

The University of Michigan Inches Toward the Critical Mass Problem.

When does a university start tipping over into Auburn territory? When does it accumulate so many scandals of so many kinds – athletic, research, financial – that it begins to get that University of Kentucky smell?

When you add the current insider trading scandal in the University of Michigan’s medical school to the psychology department scandal … when you throw in long-established questions about the university president’s extensive, lucrative, and possibly conflictual corporate board activityand when you add years of high-profile athletic scandals, including the president’s recent very own Rich Rodriguez debacle… Well, UM’s heading into the red zone.

‘With LSU reportedly interested in [Mel] Tucker amid his 2021 [football coaching] success, the Spartans rewarded him with a massive contract extension. At the time, his annual salary trailed only Nick Saban’s at Alabama and put him in the company of other national title-winning coaches, such as Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher.’

Michigan State was happily on its way to bankrupting the school, via massive payments (an almost hundred million dollar ten-year contract extension!) to a football coach who racked up some winning games, when (quoting James Bond) “something big came up.”

Given that as recently as 2018 another Michigan school was out 500 mill because a team doctor also had something come up, you kinda wonder

1.) how does one of America’s not at all rich states keep finding all this dough (and more) in its university sports programs? and

2.) will the state ever realize that hugely expensive degenerates tend to populate American university sports programs at the highest levels? (Tuberville not high-profile enough for you?) Because once you get RID of, say, Tucker, he’s gonna turn around and sue you for hundreds of millions more, the way all of them do when you fire them, for cause or not. Right? Has anyone besides UD been following this history?

As daunting as the remaining two months remaining on the schedule appear, there’s also the potential for a lengthy legal fight with Tucker hinting at his intent to sue the university over the roughly $80 million remaining on his contract. Michigan State doesn’t want to pay a dime and will have to decide if it’s worth absorbing hefty legal fees and headlines continuing to link the school with Tucker or reach a settlement to bring the saga to an end.

3.) can anyone at these institutions of higher learning think about cause and effect? As in, when you suddenly give a hundred million dollar contract to a… not too upstanding person, might that money and power go to his head? Make him think he can get away with anything cuz he’s such hot shit?

Yeah. You kinda wonder why so many American universities are ineducable on the most basic patterns, the most basic matters.

The University of Arizona’s Domestic Abuse Hall of Fame has Just Grown By Another Inductee!

Ever since they hired one of the ickiest coaches this great country has to offer, UA’s football team has been hitting all of its marks (er, girlfriends) one after another, making a real name for itself in a crowded national domestic abuse field.

Scottie Young Jr… . Orlando Bradford… And as UA can attest, you don’t get there without a certain kind of coach, and teammates who watch it happen and don’t give a shit!

Newly released records from the Tucson Police Department reveal statements from witnesses and victims, stating a former University of Arizona Wildcats football player’s roommates and teammates were aware of, but did not report, violent incidents.

… Witness statements claim Bradford’s roommates, Arizona Wildcats football players, saw the abuse and heard threats of violence but never reported the behavior.

One of the witnesses recounted a February 2016 incident which alleged[ly] happened in Bradford’s vehicle. The witness said Bradford, one of the victims, a female witness and a UA football player were in the vehicle.

The witness told the TPD the victim said something to Bradford, which angered him.

“Bradford exited the vehicle, opened the door and slid the seat forward,” according to the report. “He grabbed the victim by the hair, pulled her from the vehicle and threw her on the ground.”

The witness also said Bradford, on several occasions, had “gone crazy, verbally yelling and screaming” at one of the victims and “threatened to kill her.”

According to the witness’ reports, Bradford would hit the victim “in front of the guys” and named the four football players who lived in the house.

A witness, who police said was in a relationship with one of Bradford’s roommates, heard that Bradford was, “telling everyone in the locker room what he had done (to the victim) and was joking about it.”

This ranks up there with Steven Cohen’s shock at discovering insider traders at his hedge fund.

Scales fall from another hedgie’s eyes.

For the first time in my life, I’m having to question whether Michigan truly is different from all those other large, state universities that let their hugely profitable football programs pretty much do what they want.

David Westin, principal, Witherbee Holdings, LLC, burst with pride when his university was run by the team of corporate board slummer Mary Sue Coleman and her hugely expensive/shady businessman/ coach-crush, Rich Rodriguez. This was fine, fine, quite in keeping with the ethos of the greatest of academic institutions… Michigan under Rich – UM had to lose him as fast as they got him, what with all the bad publicity, and losing him cost them millions and millions too – was light years away from, say, Alabama and, you know, all those other sleaze schools …

But now! Westin is shocked – shocked – to find concussing going on in here.

“[University of Georgia Football Coach Jim Donnan allegedly] used his influence to get high-profile college coaches and former players to invest $80 million into a Ponzi scheme.”

Yawn. Donnan not high profile enough? Try Tommy Tuberville. Rich Rodriguez. Just one of many ways in which big-time sports bring good things to the American university.

It’s one thing when bad universities like Penn State implode.

It’s another when good universities like the University of Michigan spin out of control. Off they go, one after another expensive (to Michigan taxpayers) football player… And the players get that all-important incredibly condescending send-off from the coach:

“Fitz made a poor decision and has been suspended indefinitely because of that action,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said in a statement released Monday afternoon. “There are expectations that come with being a football student-athlete at the University of Michigan and those responsibilities were not met in this instance.

“We will use this as an opportunity to educate Fitz and make sure he understands the high standards that we have established within our program.”

As if this asshole didn’t recruit the guy. More becoming would be the coach saying something like The pattern of university-destroying misbehavior on the part of so many members of our most high-profile teams means that something is wrong with our recruiting strategy. We will try to do a better job. But no – he has to lecture the player on how he’s going to get educated blah blah. Better to educate the coach in avoiding cynical recruitment decisions.

But anyway. Doesn’t matter. UM’s disgusting and expensive hiring and firing of the likes of Rick Rodriguez… I mean, we’re supposed to forget about all that… Put it aside the way Penn State people put aside one unsettling event after another over decades. North Carolina Chapel Hill is already a laughingstock; U Mich is probably next. On with the farce.

“The whole thing was just so sordid — the way he left WVU, the whole transition…”

A law professor uses one of UD‘s favorite university-sports adjectives (she’s probably used sordid almost as much as squalid in writing about big-time football and basketball) to describe Rich Rodriguez’s contract dealings with the University of West Virginia. (Background – including his subsequent experience at the University of Michigan – here. Scroll down.) But he does more than that. He proves that what sports boosters always say is true: Sports contribute a huge amount to the university.

Bambauer said the heated dispute [between Rodriguez and UWV] worked “wonderfully well” for his Contracts B class, a second semester contract law class he was teaching in the winter and spring of 2008.

“It was a nice teaching moment because it showed that you threaten a lot and then, eventually, the parties sit down and negotiate. This is the norm.”

Yes. That is the norm in the big bad world, and it’s the norm in our big sports universities. They’re every bit as sordid as the big bad world.

As Philip Larkin would say, useful to get that learnt.

Big time athletics turns your university into a parochial, corrupt, and deeply twisted little city.

If that’s what your school always has been (see Auburn University), no sweat. But say you’re the University of Michigan, a school that has a distinguished past. What do people know about you now?

They know that your football coach is a strange and desperate man who gets way too choked up on the rubber chicken circuit.

They know that your athlete-mad professors get all expense paid junkets to the big games, even though those same professors are supposed to be policing the program.

In January 2009, the full faculty senate voted 19-11 to approve a resolution calling for the free trips to end.

President Mary Sue Coleman to the faculty senate: Fuck you!


These and many more embarrassments have made the University of Michigan look like Gary, Indiana — a kooky, corrupt, dot on the map.

Yale University: From Cognitive Science to Comp Lit …

… without a stop at Communications.

Lucas Hanft, a Yale Daily News writer, complained as far back as 2003 that Yale had no Communications major:

We were watching the NCAA tournament when we happened to notice that (surprisingly) the majors of most of the players were stuff like communications, marketing schemes, or hotel management.

These are not majors offered by Yale College. Could Yale’s inability to recruit big-time athletes be the result of their now-seemingly narrow curriculum? Could this bastion of educational superiority be behind the times? Cornell has a school of hotel management, human ecology, and according to some, pharmacology. We can’t be left behind, sucking at the winds of change…

Yet nothing’s happened in all that time to change the majors at Yale. You still can’t major in communications.

Hanft is right to notice its popularity among big time college athletes. In an opinion piece about the big academic scandal going on at UNC Chapel Hill, Bomani Jones counts “seven communications majors” among the athletes being investigated:

When will more athletic departments uphold their end of the bargain and stop shielding athletes behind easy majors and preferred professors? When will they challenge their players to do things they never thought they were capable of scholastically, the way they do athletically?

… As long as education is treated as something to fit in around football, those people use the kids just as the agents Nick Saban so famously referred to as “pimps” do.

… Two and a half years ago, the Ann Arbor News published a damning series about the University of Michigan that detailed a patronizing system in which athletes were encouraged to take “easy” majors and shuffled into independent-study courses that sometimes involved as little as using a day planner. (And this was before Rich “‘Round the Clock” Rodriguez showed up.)

If the series made a ripple, the waters have long since stilled.

Majoring: It’s all about teamwork.

Does Mary Sue Coleman Exist?

She’s president, as the New York Times puts it this morning, “of the entire University of Michigan.” Yet in the years I’ve kept this blog, I’ve never known her to issue a direct statement, let alone appear in public… I mean, she must appear in public… convocations and all… But she’s so withdrawn that UD figures she’s either very shy or very queenly…

And frankly, given that university’s problems – many of them involving Rich Rodriguez, and therefore of her making – it comes off as regal rather than inhibited when Coleman says nothing, or appoints one of her mouthpieces, to deal with the latest accusations against him and his program.


Now she’s getting all of this attention from the world’s newspaper of record because of her corporate directorships – the Johnson and Johnson one in particular, where, in exchange for attending a few meetings, she gets close to $250,000 a year – and yet again she makes one of her serfs do the talking.

Responding to questions on Ms. Coleman’s behalf Monday, Kelly E. Cunninghan, a spokeswoman for the university, said the president satisfies policy by disclosing her outside work.

Who says? I mean, who says that’s enough?

The situation calls for transparency, which Michigan has, [one expert] said, and a specific policy and approval process which do not appear to exist. Ms. Coleman is required to report her outside work to a vice president, who works for her.

“Disclosure is a step down and not equal to approval,” [Thomas] Donaldson said. “I think it’s important in an instance like this where there’s a possible conflict of interest for a responsible group to say yes, to think about it, and not just have it reported to them.”

It will be interesting to know President Coleman’s response to this point as soon as she designates a courtier to speak on her behalf.

Meanwhile, the Times notes the prevailing hypocrisy:

The University of Michigan medical school became the first in the nation last month to say it would refuse any funding from drug companies for its continuing medical education classes. The decision could cost it as much as $1 million a year, but it was worth it, the medical school dean said, for education to be free from potential bias.

At the same time, Mary Sue Coleman, president of the entire University of Michigan, sits on the board of directors for the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson…


Update: Coleman comments on the issue:

I think it’s my duty to be out there understanding what the commercial world is doing and I think if it perfectly aligns with what we do in terms of our engagement in economic development, I think it’s important. …I don’t treat patients, I’m not an MBA, I have no control over any interactions or anything…

Why does Johnson and Johnson pay President Coleman $200,000 a year to understand the commercial world? She doesn’t do anything there, as she notes. Since she’s basically there to learn, why isn’t Coleman paying Johnson and Johnson?

There’s a sucker born every minute…

… to be sure, but the University of Michigan — which pays millions to a negligent president and many more millions to Rich Rodriguez, an extremely, I may almost say an ostentatiously, crooked football coach — seems to be on an even faster schedule than that. Every moment it spins out some new way to get taken.

The latest involves $350 an hour legal fees:

The NCAA investigation into Michigan’s football program has cost the university nearly half million dollars so far, and expenses continue to mount.

According to invoices from the law firm Lightfoot, Franklin and White released this week as part of an open-records request, Michigan has paid $446,951 in legal fees and other expenses since contracting attorney Gene Marsh and others to handle its internal investigation last September.

The payments are for services rendered through April, and do not include a busy May, when the university released its findings and self-imposed penalties in response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations.

… Michigan, in a letter dated Sept. 15, 2009, agreed to pay … the former head of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, $350 an hour to lead its investigation. Other attorneys were billed at $300, and paralegals $130 an hour…

Check out the article’s comment thread if you want a sense of the reality on the ground. If UM were a public university in a financially distressed state, this would be a real scandal.

Next Page »

Latest UD posts at IHE