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Local News / Opinion

Sunday, 8 July, 2007 11:42 AM

U of M vs. The NCAA: The Second Battle of Toledo?


The U of M Regents with President Mary Sue Coleman persuing the Core Purpose of the NCAA.

by Mike Wrathell



There is more to The University of Michigan than the chant of "Go Blue!" and the playing of "Hail to the Victors!" Or, at least, there should be. Having gone to U of M from Fall 1979 to my graduation in May 1985 with a Bachelor of General Studies, I am also quite cognizant, for instance, of the three Latin words on our University Seal: Artes, Scientia & Veritas, or, in English: Art, Science & Truth.

Most of us realize the importance of art and science. Art expresses great ideas that move our Civilization forward in a beautiful, humane way. Science is supposed to be a good thing, too, even though nuclear bombs and bio-engineered broccoli that honey bees die from and global warming argue against us getting too clever for our Earth's good.

But what of "Veritas?" Truth. How important is Truth?

I recently confronted the Regents and President Coleman of my alma mater during the public comments section of the June 21st Regents' meeting in Ann Arbor. (A meeting that Drew Sharp of The Detroit Free Press did not attend, but said should have had more speakers about private boxes at the football stadium.)

There are only five speakers allowed per topic, Drew, and no one but me spoke up for student-athletes. I am sorry if you long for the A/C at Ford Field, but there are other issues besides your comfort. Did some besotten West Quady spill a beer on you, or something?

So, for the benefit of Mr. Sharp and all those who think student-athletes should be more important to U of M and every other NCAA college and university than how much Bud Light is paying for a 30 second spot on national teevy, let me briefly encapsulate my comments.

As a public university, U of M is bound to that whole "of the people, by the people, for the people" business that President Coleman recently tried to rebuff when Proposal 2 was overwhelmingly passed in a statewide referendum. She wanted to sic U of M's legal attack dogs on Proposal 2, much like the ravenous sharks feasting on old Santiago's marlin in "The Old Man and the Sea."

Cooler heads prevailed upon her and now she is merely chanting "We Are Diversity!" in The Diag, doing her best Pointer Sisters' impression with a Sony bullhorn, not made in Michigan.

But the sharks must be fed, so I thought to redirect them from a voter-approved initiative that U of M has no business thwarting to two draconian rules with which the NCAA is smugly lording over student-athletes. Since U of M cannot shirk its constitutional duty to see that its student-athletes are treated with dignity, and, as a great public university, should also empathize with student-athletes from all the other NCAA member colleges and universities, I prooffered two rule changes for them to advocate quite sharkily the next time our (I am an alumnus, after all) rep goes down to Indy for the annual meeting regarding rule changes.

First, the "punish the apostate" rule, which says a student-athlete must lose a year of athletic eligibility if they transfer to another college or university can now only be waived if a student-athlete is raped, called the "c-word," and grovels before the NCAA, or some other like tale of horridity is told convincingly enough for the NCAA to relent in its hallowed judgment. Thus, if at an NCAA-sanctioned track meet, Romeo from Wake Forest and Juliet from U of M fall in love and want to run and learn at the same university the next year, one of them will have to be the victim of a horridity, and submit documentation thereof to the NCAA.

U of M needs to stand up and demand an end to the draconian "punish the apostate" rule that exists ostensibly to thwart illegal recruiting. As mentioned in the United States Supreme Court case "Shapiro v. Thompson," one must use the "least restrictive means" and also not infringe on an American citizen's fundamental right to travel from state to state.

I find it hard to believe that with U of M's great law school that two of our current Regents are graduates of that we lack the moral fiber to confront the NCAA on such a clearly draconian rule. The NCAA might think Draco was a misunderstood tyrant, but U of M should know better than to drop the ball and let the NCAA make us look like a nebbish. We should be setting the gold standard and making sure the NCAA is living up to its stated Core Purpose and Core Values. If we don't, who will? Boise Valley Community College?

The other rule change I lobbied for with the 30 seconds I had left in my five minute address was the end of punishing the student-athlete who retains an agent before testing the waters of a professional sports draft, which is Part B of the "punish the apostate" rule. Why would the NCAA not want a student-athlete to have an agent to help them navigate through their first taste of a brutal, manipulative, adult world in which one is merely a commodity, a product? Is it because the NCAA figures since it has already treated the student-athlete like a mere product for three or four years that the student-athlete should already "know the score?"

Well, I don't really care what the NCAA thinks. I care about what The Constitution says. It says one has the right to an attorney. I think the right to an agent is in keeping with the proper tone for a great university to support. The proper threshold should be if and when a student-athlete signs a contract with a professional team. Until then, student-athletes should not be treated like despised apostates who have renounced the true faith. If we are going to throw anything out in the garbage, let it be the NCAA itself. How dare they tell U of M or any other institution of higher learning that we have to revoke a student-athletes scholarship! Is U of M that much of a nebbish, "a potted plant" in the words of Oliver North's attorney?

Who does the NCAA think it is? If the NCAA thinks its Core Purpose that says "the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount" is mere boilerplate, dross, wind-in-sails, then the U of M as a public university is honor-bound to obey the principles of The Constitution and should form a new consortium with the other public colleges and universities now meekly cavorting in the NCAA's disgraceful, fetid embrace. The fifty governors of our Union should also assist in the formation of such a consortium, if that is how it has to play out. Leaders are supposed to lead.

And, if the NCAA boycotts the State of Michigan and decides to have the Final Four in Toledo, Governor Granholm can assemble the Michigan National Guard and shut down the tourney, much like Governor Mason did in 1835 when Michigan acted on its rightful claim to Toledo. Gee, maybe Governator Schwarzenegger and his California guard can help out, too! It doesn't hurt to ask! He loves being on teevy, after all! Even former President John Quincy Adams supported our prior claim to Toledo, saying, "Never in the course of my life have I known a controversy of which all the right is so clearly on one side and all the power so overwhelmingly on the other."

Well, we have such a controversy now, one would think. But the fact is that U of M has a voice and a vote, and though it has only been used lately in the Diag, it needs to be heard at a higher octave than a peep in Indianapolis. I know we have the Yost Field House, but we need not creep like a field mouse. We are Wolverines! Per Ms. Katie Larson, Education Director for the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, wolverines emit a "hissy growl, maybe preceded by a low grumbling...."


Three polar bears eating a beluga whale, boat ride and a wolverine outside Arviat, Nunavut, Canada....

Wolverine vs. Male Grey Wolf

Wolverine fights off 2 wolves from their kill

Wolverine confronting and fighting off Wolf Pack


And from listening to them on, I would say they make a squelchy roar! And get this: I saw one eating a beluga whale with three polar bears and another fighting off a grey wolf! I suggest the Regents and President Coleman view those videos before their next meeting to inspire and gird themselves good.

To me, when I look at the University Seal of U of M and see "Veritas," I do not see compromise, boilerplate, backroom deals, fear of confronting the big, bad Behemoth that the NCAA has become--I see an unflinchingness that every alumni must have to fight for the Truth. You shouldn't have to be drunk on Village Corner wine and meekly qualify "Veritas" with "In Vino Veritas," either. I like my spirits as much as the next person, but I don't need to be drunk to say the NCAA smells like a skunk! My apologies to Pepe' Le Pew! Go Blue!

(Note: I used The Los Angeles Times spelling of the abbreviation of television (circa 1981), i.e., "teevy" because I think it is a lot cooler than "TV" and in hopes to bring the Governator into our camp.....)



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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer and Privacy Policy.