BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Published December 6, 2012
According to the Board of Regents’ bylaws, the University’s Advisory Board on Intercollegiate Athletics exists as “advisor to the director on the program in intercollegiate athletics.” The athletic director is to “seek and consider” the recommendations of the ABIA “on all major financial and policy decisions.” However, on Dec. 3, The Michigan Daily reported that the ABIA wasn’t told about the Big Ten Conference’s expansion until well after the decision had already been made. In the future, the ABIA should be consulted regarding structural or policy changes within the Athletic Department before decisive action is taken.
The Athletic Department’s decision to allow the University of Maryland and Rutgers University to join the Big Ten conference was highly relevant to the purpose of the ABIA, and Athletic Director David Brandon was bound by the obligations of the board to consult its members before moving forward. The board, which is chaired by Brandon and comprised of “faculty members, alumni, Michigan athletes (and) an executive officer,” would have been especially interested in the expansion since it will result in a greater burden of time and longer travel distances for the student-athletes, among other considerations. But Political Science Prof. Edie Goldenberg, a member of ABIA, said she didn’t get word of the expansion until she “heard it on the radio.”
This practice of “shoot first, ask questions later” is nothing new when it comes to Brandon’s relationship with the ABIA. In May 2011, mere weeks after Brandon was first instated in the powerful position, he met with the men’s lacrosse club coach to discuss his plan to promote the club to a Division I varsity team. Members of the ABIA said they didn’t hear about the change until the day before it was publicly announced. When asked to comment on his decision, Brandon “opted not to comment,” instead sending David Ablauf, associate athletic director for media relations.
In light of heightened security at University Board of Regents meetings and a widening rift between University administrators and the students they represent, this is simply one more example of University officials presuming themselves and their decisions beyond reproach. If it wasn’t troubling enough that students feel slighted by the collusions of their superiors, this recent offense to our institution’s distinguished faculty should be seen as an opportunity to draw a line in the sand.
Considering that the entire purpose of the ABIA is to oversee and advise the policies of the Athletic Department, Brandon’s attempts to circumvent the faculty are inexcusable. Our University and its academic mission supersede Brandon's agenda, whether or not that agenda fills the athletic program’s coffers.