You probably have never been to one of my team’s competitions. You do not know that we won the 2012 Big Ten Championship and you don’t know who on our team has been honored as All-Americans. My teammates and I don’t expect you to know these things. Ours is a non-revenue generating sport and we do not draw crowds like the football, basketball and hockey teams. But there are 31 Division 1 teams that represent Michigan and University Athletic Director Dave Brandon has supported each and every one of them, including mine: women’s rowing.

Like the members of the football, basketball and hockey teams, and the other 931 student-athletes at the University, we balance 20+ hours a week of practice and competition, full and challenging course loads and the expectations placed upon us by the entire athletic and non-athletic communities. As participants in college athletics, we support University Athletic Director Dave Brandon and appreciate the job he has done on behalf of all of the student-athletes.

Brandon has worked tirelessly to provide every one of the 31 Division 1 teams at the University with the facilities and resources we need to be successful athletes and students. He has created a culture and environment that pushes us to be competitive at the highest level of collegiate athletics without forsaking our responsibilities as students. You are protesting to have Brandon removed as athletic director because of the declining fortunes of our school’s football team. While that is your right, I implore you to educate yourselves of the job Brandon has done on behalf of the entire athletic community.

Under Brandon, the Athletic Department has made sure that each athlete challenges his or herself to be a leader on the playing field, in the classroom and in the community. As athletes, we are reminded of this every day. We relentlessly strive to represent the Block ‘M’ in the best possible light, a core value instilled in us by our director. Brandon looks out for the entire Athletic Department, the funding for non-revenue generating sports being a big part of that. Students at the protest on Tuesday complained that under Brandon’s leadership, the athletic tradition of the school is in peril as a result of the football team’s lack of success.

If, however, you look at the teams that make up Michigan’s athletic family, you will find much success under Brandon’s leadership. Since he became athletic director in 2010, the women’s softball team has won five consecutive Big Ten Championships, the men’s swim and dive team has won four consecutive Big Ten Championships, women’s tennis has won five straight Big Ten Championships and men’s gymnastics has won three National Championships.

By citing the football team’s lackluster performance as justification for Brandon’s dismissal, students are overlooking the hard work and successes of every other team on this campus. Furthermore, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the incredible scope of responsibilities that comes with the job of being athletic director.

Detractors of Brandon cite the injury Sophomore quarterback Shane Morris suffered in last Saturday’s football game as evidence of a lack of leadership on his part. The fact that Morris exhibited signs of a head injury and was kept in the game is unacceptable; Brandon conceded that in his statement on Tuesday. After the game, the Athletic Department conducted an exhaustive investigation into exactly what happened on the field that led to Morris being put back into the game. Under Brandon’s direction, the football team has already implemented new standards to detect injuries on the field in order to prevent this from ever happening again. The concerns have been addressed and changes have been made.

Student-athletes and coaches are required to go through extensive concussion testing and detection training at the beginning of every year. As someone who has sat through these programs for four years now, I can assure every student and alumni that this athletic department does not take concussions lightly. Likewise, to use Morris’ injury as a guise to protest Brandon does not in any way support Morris, his team or the other athletes on campus.

The University of Michigan student body and alum should take pride in their Athletic Department because it is deeply committed to helping student-athletes become well-rounded and community-conscious individuals. As part of the Michigan athletics family, community service and education are valued just as much, if not more so, than winning. We, as student-athletes, are taught that sports are not everything; maybe the fans should learn the same.

Hannah Sherman is an LSA senior.

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