On the heels of the first major NCAA violations in the history of the program, the University’s football team is again in the headlines for questionable practices. After being offered a spot on the team, recruit Demar Dorsey was told that he would not be admitted to the University. This incident illuminates an exceedingly clear lack of communication between the football program and University administration. If the football program, and by extension the University, want to be taken seriously, they must more effectively coordinate their recruitment operations with the admissions office.
Since 2007, Demar Dorsey has been charged with involvement in at least three separate counts of burglary, at least two of which he confessed to. Instead of being convicted, Dorsey was sent to an alternative juvenile program. In school, Dorsey struggled before dropping out and enrolling in an alternative program called LifeSkills, where his grades and test scores dramatically improved. While there has been some dispute over the facts and order of events, it’s known that football coach Rich Rodriguez offered Dorsey a scholarship to play at the University before he enrolled at LifeSkills, and that, in turn, Dorsey signed a Letter of Intent, preventing him from looking at other schools. Recently, however, the admissions office sent a letter notifying Dorsey that he would not be admitted and that he was no longer bound by the LOI.
There have been several conflicting reports about whether Rodriguez actually consulted the admissions office before offering Dorsey a scholarship. But whatever the case may be, the episode reinforces the disconnect between the football program and the University administration. Ironically, this comes after an already embarrassingly public investigation into NCAA rule violations, when Athletic Director Dave Brandon promised more transparency and better communication between the athletic department and varsity teams. Clearly, this promise has gone unfulfilled. The Dorsey case is representative of an intrinsic, recurring and problematic detachment between these two entities.
The shameful nature of this incident will likely harm the University’s recruitment of future student-athletes. By offering Dorsey a place on the team, Rodriguez created an expectation that he would be admitted to the University itself — an offer that should never have been made considering Dorsey’s history and lack of academic credentials. But the turnaround engenders a far broader concern: It calls into question the legitimacy of any offer by the athletic department to a student-athlete on the border of the University’s academic standards.
The whole ordeal has dealt yet another blow to the football program’s already ailing reputation. But ultimately, it reflects a larger pattern of poor coordination and communication that must end.