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.

From Rich to Poor

As soon as she set eyes on football coach Rich Rodriguez, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman decided to make this trouble-prone loss-leader her mistress.

Before Rich even came to Ann Arbor, she paid his millions in debts to West Virginia University. She overlooked his many legal entanglements, his long history of coaching violations, his tendency to belittle his players. She set Rich up in glorious surroundings and gave him massive amounts of money.

Love does funny things to you.


Fervent she may be about Rich, but Coleman knows she cannot shout her love from the rooftops. Not everyone approves. So when she meets with trustees to discuss Rich’s latest infractions (the NCAA is investigating Rich for breaking team practice rules) , she makes sure it’s closed door.

But here we go again. When it comes to Rich, you never stop paying:

When the University of Michigan Board of Regents met this month for an update on the NCAA investigation of the football program, they did so behind closed doors. And that, says a lawsuit filed today, was illegal.

The suit, filed by a U-M alumnus in Washtenaw County Circuit Court, accuses the Board of Regents of violating the state Open Meetings Act, which places restrictions on how and why such public bodies can meet in private.

Robert Davis’ lawsuit says discussing the NCAA probe isn’t a valid reason to meet privately. The Open Meetings Act allows such boards to meet behind closed doors to discuss things such as personnel issues, student disciplinary cases and consultations with its attorney on certain issues. The law spells out procedures that must be followed to go into a private session. The lawsuit claims regents did not follow proper procedure…


When asked to comment, Coleman burst into song:

He will not always say
What you would have him say
But now and then he’ll say
Something wonderful!

The thoughtless things he’ll do
Will hurt and worry you
Then all at once he’ll do
Something wonderful!

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.


Arizona Football: Scottie Young Jr. Participating in All Team Activities Following Arrest for Domestic Violence

He can really beat the shit out of people!

The University of Arizona: Beautiful coach Rich Rodriguez. Beautiful team. A university sports legend in the making.

“Think about smoking or seatbelts. They’re relevant analogies because exhortations to stop smoking and wear seatbelts were once largely relegated to liberal eggheads. As the evidence mounted, though, those causes went mainstream. Today, it’s clear that a large swath of liberal, college-educated America has changed its mind about the wisdom of playing football.”

When universities and school boards have to start paying out substantial settlements, the debate will change,” says Daniel Okrent, who has written histories of both baseball and Prohibition.

But no, that can’t be true. Maybe school boards. Universities all over this country are happily bankrupting themselves to offer their students a game they don’t want to see, with players toward whom they feel contempt and fear. Many universities consider multimillion dollar payouts to abusive coaches, public relations firms, lawyers, and student victims of sexual and physical assault nothing more than the price of doing business. They regularly pay huge sums to clean up epic tailgating trash on campus, and their equally regular post-student-riot costs – riots of course stretch deep into the local community – are astronomical.

Universities have worked into the football and basketball equation totally ruined academic reputations, as well as the pesky business of constantly being at the receiving end of national ridicule on late-night comedy shows. It’s nothing to them to buy up huge swathes of tickets to their own games, since students aren’t going to the games and you need to keep your tickets-bought statistics up or you’ll get in trouble with the NCAA and other groups.

Universities are places where the president makes $500,000 and the coach makes five million. Coach earns his salary by carving out scholarship admission for concussed violence-prone 300-pound steroidal applicants.


That’s a third of the roster.

We’re only counting the last three years.

More than half of the team currently has active charges.

“Out on bail but still on the field.” Corey Ford, one of the U Cal players arrested for assault last week, has in a separate case pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. He was in Washington DC, New Year’s day, drunk and driving on the wrong side of the road. He hit a bicyclist and left him in a coma.

Oh, it was also a hit and run.

Who is the coach at Cal U? Why is this person the coach at Cal U?

Here he is, and he’s got quite the pedigree. A protege of one of the sleaziest coaches out there, the notorious Rich Rodriguez. Oh, and his academic specialty seems prophetic: master’s degree from one of America’s sleaziest football factories – West Virginia University – in — wait for it — safety management.)

Substantial settlements for brain damaged players? So what. A drop in the bucket.

And after all, what is college but a place to send your kid to get and give brain damage?

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.

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.

“Finally, some bad news coming out of the West Virginia football program that doesn’t involve Dana Holgorsen, Bill Stewart or somebody getting tossed out of a casino. No, this time it’s just your run of the mill ‘reserve linebacker commits armed robbery’ story.”

You want a class act, you way definitely want West Virginia University. The CBS News writer quoted above doesn’t even bother going back to football coach Rich Rodriguez, who brought such esteem to WVU’s sports program shortly before Heave-Ho Holgorsen came along.

“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.

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.

‘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.

NYC’s full of truly scary crazy people, but it’s rare that one of them is a college professor.

The question is not Why is a violent woman running around the big city being violent? That’s not newsworthy. The question needs to be put to Hunter College: Why is one of these on your faculty?

Part of the answer lies in ye olde erotic attraction to radically chic violence that Leonard Bernstein made famous in that same city in the ‘seventies. Shellyne Rodriguez’s art, she tells an interviewer, “highlight[s] the audaciousness of the Biker Boys who take the streets undeterred by NYPD’s futile crackdown.” Makes elements of brainy artsy NY go pitapat.

This sort of thing also exists on some sort of urban mischief continuum with the non-revolutionary, white collar crime (undeterred by the SEC’s futile crackdown) that has always found representation on the boards of trustees of the sorts of schools that think Shellyne Rodriguez is cool. Recall the many high-level lawless money men/university trustees we’ve featured over decades on this blog, starting with Yeshiva University’s dynamic duo, Bernard Madoff and Ezra Merkin. At the very top of this mafia today are of course Trump/Giuliani (who hold far grander positions than mere trustee) and a whole world of superrich rapacious give-a-shit NY bad boys… UD‘s just saying that when a significant high-profile portion of the local culture is composed of high-risk-loving financial criminals (see Steven Cohen, Brown University etc. etc.) quite a few of them holding powerful positions on university boards of trustees, we shouldn’t be too surprised that this sort of world has room for other sorts of sociopaths. The school that hired Rodriguez features convicted insider trader and trustee Leon Cooperman.

These white/nonwhite criminal twains, trustee and professor, meet with a mutual thrill, a tacit sense of recognition, at a campus cocktail party, say, and if Rodriguez hadn’t attacked a man with a machete the other day, Cooperman would probably eventually have signed off on the tenure of Hunter’s own Jessica Krug. (‘Perhaps one of the most disgusting things [Krug] publicly did was to attempt to justify the brutal murder of 15-year-old Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, who died in a machete attack at the hands of gang members in a case of mistaken identity, by claiming that had he lived he would have ended up being a cop.‘) High-flying scofflaw cultures tend to have no trouble with nasty pieces of work like Rodriguez. Self-aggrandizing nihilist subversive meets self-aggrandizing nihilist subversive.

Yes, yes, post-machete, post-other forms of non white collar violence, Hunter has dropped Rodriguez like a hot potato.

Hunter happily goes on loving itself some bad boy Leon Cooperman, but then he’s not a poor artist. He’s a rich insider trader. He gets to keep his trusteeship.

So the question of how Hunter College found itself holding on to Rodriguez in the first place has two answers: Ever-popular radical violence, and the allied and fully mainstreamed “audaciousness” of NY white collar criminality.

Our Rod and His Staff they Comfort Me.

1 Rich Rod is our shepherd; we shall not want.

2 He maketh us to lie to his wife: he leadeth us to his erection.

3 He bribeth our staff: he leadeth us to the path of visually enhanced underwear for his cock’s sake.

4 Yea, though we plead for jobs in other departments, we will get no response: for “Coach Rodriguez would be pissed.”

5 Our school preparest six million dollars for him to go away; yea, he will take the money and sue us for forty million more.

6 Surely his woman-beating players will follow us all the days of our life: and we will dwell in the house of The Rod for ever.


UD thanks David and John.

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