The University Record, October 14, 1998
By Jane R. Elgass
The eight core values articulated last fall by coaches and others in the Athletic Department guide day-to-day decision-making in the unit and form a strong base for developing relationships between the classroom and the playing field.
They also support the central purpose of the department---to create an environment to help student athletes realize their potential academically, athletically and socially---Tom Goss told a Rackham Amphitheatre audience last week during the third in a series of lectures on American values sponsored by the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.
Those values---honesty and integrity, accountability and responsibility, respect and compassion, competitive spirit, and the team must come first---were articulated by department staff shortly after Gosss appointment last fall as the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Goss noted that it didnt take long for those values to come into play.
They helped form the decision to expand seating in Michigan Stadium when it was apparent that there were not enough seats for students.
Compassion played a key role in helping athletes and staff deal with the death of wrestler Jefferey L. Reese last December.
Accountability and responsibility played a major role in the decision this fall to suspend from competition football player Marcus Ray following allegations that he had illegal contact with an agent. (See accompanying box.)
The values supported a decision to move the position of the Nike swoosh on football uniforms this fall.
We operate under our core values on a daily basis, Goss said, and that extends to recruiting activities.
We recruit athletes who have exceptional talent, but they also must have character and be able to fit into the classroom environment at Michigan. We want them to succeed in both places, he said. We keep the values in mind when recruiting and we get the kind of student-athletes we want.
The value Goss places on success in the classroom was evident when he indicated that winning two national championships was not what pleased him most last year.
What excited me the most, he said, was that at our academic banquet we had more than 320 athletes who had two semesters of 3.0 or better GPAs. Thats 50 percent of our athletes. The number one thing I was most pleased with was their academic success.
Goss also believes that learning extends beyond the classroom and last year initiated the STARS program to help student-athletes become more well rounded citizens.
Through the STARS program, student-athletes participate in community outreach activities through the Center for Community Service and Learning, at Mott Hospital, in Ann Arbor schools and in Boys and Girls Clubs.
We want to teach them to give back to the community, Goss said.
While it may appear to many that income from football and basketball can carry the lions share of the load, Goss says the department continually is seeking other revenue streams to support and enhance the departments $45 million budget.
Some of that needed money already is resting in department coffers to be reinvested in its programs as a result of the installation of the production center in Crisler Arena. That has allowed the University to produce coaches shows here, saving the expense of having them done outside.
The department also has launched Michigan Magazine, which captures the student experience in all sports except football and basketball. Shown at 7 p.m. Tuesdays on Fox TV, the program also presents an opportunity for other areas of the University to showcase accomplishments.
The production center also has produced an unexpected benefit, with ESPN asking for student interns and production of much of the Fox show done by students, creating new career paths, Goss noted.
Everything that is shown on the new video screens in Michigan Stadium also appears on the Internet. Goss said the medium presents a positive opportunity for a different revenue stream down the road.
Citing 3.5 million hits during the three-hour Ohio State game last year, Goss said the Internet holds even greater opportunities as the medium continues to change and the bandwidth improves.
Compliance with changing Title IX regulations relating to proportionality in mens and womens sports is presenting a major fiscal challenge to the U-M---about $2.5 million---Goss indicated.
Michigan has always been in the lead in this area, he said, and was within 3.7 percent of where we needed to be this past year.
Goss said the department is looking at adding two more womens sports---water polo and lacrosse---that will put us where we should be.
Other schools are cutting mens sports to comply, Goss said, adding that this is not the right way to manage the issue.
Addressing the issue of reforms in basketball, Goss noted that there is both good and bad in the sport, with administrators at some Division I schools turning their heads to such realities as 44 percent graduation rates, around the lowest for any sport.
The National Basketball Association takes students out of school early and the summer camps are greatly influenced by the shoe companies that sponsor them.
Goss was recently appointed to a 27-member working group of Division I NCAA educators and sports administrators to examine issues affecting Division I basketball. The committee has been given a year to change basketball, Goss reported. It will look different next year.
Gambling on college athletics also is an issue that must be addressed, Goss noted, citing problems at Northwestern, Arizona State and Boston universities that involved student bookies, some of whom were athletes.
The Athletic Department will host a seminar later this month on gambling and how people can infiltrate your program, Goss said. The program is a cooperative effort of the Office of Student Affairs and University Housing, because student-athletes live there, Goss explained. Some people can make millions on the information that can be gained in the residence hall environment.
Asked during a question-and-answer session what the department was doing to foster closer relationships with academic units, Goss noted that the current search for a new director of the Student Athlete Support Program has included representatives from just about every discipline.
It is important for athletes to experience things offered on campus, not just their sport, he said. We need to find ways to better integrate our students with activities on campus. And wed like to have honor students come down and see what it is like to prepare for a game.
We want to make sure that, by the time our student-athletes leave Michigan, they are stars and can go out in the world and shine, in their careers and in their family life. The STARS program helps equip them for life, explains Warde Manuel, assistant athletic director in charge of student-athlete development and research who is pursuing a joint Ph.D. in social work and psychology.
Through STARS, Manuel says, we offer opportunities that range from community service to internships, and were cultivating relationships with local and national corporations to offer more internship opportunities. That way, rather than just having a summer job for the money, they can test out their options and interests while still in school.
Student-athletes participate in activities offered by the program. Every Thursday, 15-20 of them visit Mott Hospital. When possible, entire teams visit with children hospitalized there. Some participate in a reading program in Ann Arbor elementary schools. Others visit the Ypsilanti Boys and Girls Clubs once a month.
In November, yet another option will be available through the Campus Pals program of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. In this program, a student-athlete will be paired with a U-M student who is not an athlete. They in turn will be paired with a young child.
We want to give student-athletes as many opportunities as we can while they are here, Manuel explains, possibilities they can look to once theyre done with their careers at Michigan.
Marcus Ray, tri-captain of the football team, will rejoin the Wolverines for the Oct. 31 game at Minnesota. Head Coach Lloyd Carr announced Oct. 9 that Ray would begin practicing with the team that day, following a three-week suspension to investigate allegations of improper contact with an agent.
While some of the details of the allegations remain unclear, Ray and the agent, James Gould, acknowledged that Ray received tickets to a jazz concert, food and reservations for two hotel rooms. Under NCAA rules, Ray is responsible for the cost of these items. His five-game suspension, Athletic Director Tom Goss said, is in line with similar NCAA infractions.
The thing that is alarming and a problem for everyone in intercollegiate athletics is beyond the responsibility that Marcus has to assume for part of this, Carr said. There is an agent who knowingly violated NCAA rules and I intend to write the NFL Players Association and ask that they take action.
Writing the Association is the only thing the Athletic Department can do to reprimand Gould. Neither the state of Michigan nor Ohio (where the incident took place) have laws governing Goulds interactions with Ray. There are bills in the Michigan Legislature that would begin to address the problem, Goss said, but in this case our hands are pretty much tied.