Faculty want more say on University of Michigan athletics
Goldenberg, a public policy professor and former College of Literature, Science and Arts dean, is on the Advisory Board on Intercollegiate Athletics, a board composed primarily of faculty members, alumni, student athletes and an administrator and chaired by athletic director Dave Brandon.
"We're not really informed about things beforehand," Goldenberg said Monday at a meeting of faculty leaders, adding: "I was very disappointed that I heard about (Big Ten) expansion on the radio."
The athletics advisory board is mandated by regents bylaws and its function is to, essentially, give Brandon advice.
"The director will seek and consider the advice of the Advisory Board on all major financial and policy decisions with respect to the program on intercollegiate athletics," the bylaws state. Advisory board members are appointed by U-M president Mary Sue Coleman.
Several faculty members serving on the board, however, feel their advice is not being sought, they said during a Faculty Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs meeting Monday.
Edward Rothman, a statistics professor that serves on the committee, said Brandon sets the agenda for meetings and does not seek faculty input. On topics ranging from Big Ten expansion to raising ticket prices for sporting events, the committee is not clued in, Rothman said.
"The word advisory doesn't seem to be applying much," said Rowell Huesmann, a committee member, psychology and communications professor and director of U-M's Research Center for Group Dynamics.
A task some members of the committee recently undertook, for example, was suggesting that certain sports teams alter a series of practice times because they might interfere with class schedules. For the most part, Goldenberg said, meetings consist of "presentations by (Brandon) and his staff about things that are already pretty far along" in the planning process.
"It's not our job to micromanage the athletic department," offered Michael Imperiale, a microbiology professor and committee member. "Really, this is an athletic department. It's not an academic unit."
David Ablauf, U-M associate athletic director for media relations, said Brandon "always has been open to any discussion" with advisory board members.
"They can pick up the phone and call him," Ablauf said. "He's very transparent in the way he operates."
Brandon opted not to comment for this article, instead having Ablauf speak in his place.
Ablauf also noted that expanding the Big Ten is not an athletic department decision, but a decision made by the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors.
A decade ago the board had more control. In the early 2000s the regents' bylaws were changed to alter the board to an "advisory" role. Then, when Brandon came on as athletic director three years ago, he cut the frequency of meetings as he extended meeting duration, according to committee members.
However, Goldenberg said when she suggested the board discuss concussions, Brandon put the item on a meeting agenda.
"He hasn't felt the need for our advice," Allan Stam, a political science professor and committee member, said of Brandon. "We don't have a role, in that if our role is simply to provide advice for the athletic director when he chooses to ask for it."