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Posted on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Faculty want more say on University of Michigan athletics

By Kellie Woodhouse

Edie Goldenberg heard about the Big Ten's recent addition of University of Maryland on the radio, the same way she heard about the the University of Nebraska joining the conference in 2010.

When men's and women's lacrosse were added to the University of Michigan's varsity roster, Goldenberg heard about the change the day before it was publicly announced.

The problem?

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.


Dave Brandon chairs the Advisory Board on Intercollegiate Athletics.

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."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

"The athletics advisory board is mandated by regents bylaws and its function is to, essentially, give Brandon advice." What a laugh. David Brandon takes advice from no one, as he has shown time and time again.

L. C. Burgundy

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 4:19 a.m.

Please, faculty committees are only convened when you don't actually want any decisions to be made. Anyone who's spent any significant time in graduate academia knows this.

Frustrated in A2

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 3:29 a.m.

Sounds like King Brandon is trying to phase out the board.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 2:11 a.m.

Edie Goldenberg is completely justified in her complaints about Brandon. He has always ignored the rules. When he built his hilltop mansion in Barton Hills he added a $100,000 security gate despite Barton's written rules prohibiting any gates. Money is the only thing that Brandon is interested in. He raked in millions running Valassis/Red Plum, which is the marketing outfit that stuffs our mail boxes with tons of junk mail, and then he took the top job with Domino's Pizza where he made millions more and used the company's jet to fly Mary Sue Coleman back and forth from Iowa to Michigan when the U of M was recruiting her. She seems to think she owes her job to him, and may not realize that he recruited her only to pursue his own agenda which was the AD job. Now that he has shed the faculty committee he will run amok in earnest. Everyone knows that Maryland and Rutgers have no business whatsoever in the Big Ten. They will be doormats and guarantee that the Big Ten will never again be a premier conference in college football.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

Does this advisory board have a mission statement or doesn't it have a specific mission? What exactly are they supposed to be advising about and to whom should they be offering this advice? From their statements, it sounds more a like a group doing what they THINK they are supposed to be doing. If AD Brandon is obligated to receive their suggestions - then he'd darn well better be receiving their suggestions. Those statements also seem to suggest that this board is supposed to have input rights on such things as Big Ten operations and decisions - but do they?? If they DO have input rights on Big Ten Conference matters, then shouldn't THEY be making an effort to FIND OUT what's going on with the Big Ten?? These board members might find fantasy football more to their liking.

Steven Murphy

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

Is it possible that certain people want to seem more relevant just so they can get their hands on more of that big, easy dough rich Michigan is so bloated with?


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

Interesting that this article came out on the heels of the article about the big bad athletic department turning away a for-profit company from the use of their fields. These articles read like cheap gossip blogs, giving few details but just enough to get folks riled up about things that they don't know much about. If you read the comments by each member, Huesmann is complaining, I guess, and Goldenberg is ticked that she doesn't hear about things before they happen, even if those things include a big-ten expansion out of control of the individual AD. I don't see much by the way of specific complaints that they want addressed. And why is anyone surprised that an AD doesn't need advice from professors? What expertise do they bring to the table as to how to run an athletic department? And please tell me that this is not the same committee that was charging outrageous travel expenses on the U. dime because they needed to attend bowl games.

Tim Hornton

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

I agree. Higher education writer does sound like a cheap gossip blog.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 7:51 p.m.

@Craig, I think one of his primary qualifications was his former service as a Regent of the university. Knowing how the university functions is important for an AD - probably one of the things that kept Bill Martin from being as good as he could have been at the job.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

I'm not saying Brandon is a bad AD, not at all. I'm just saying he didn't bring a lot of AD expertise to the job when he took it.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

"And why is anyone surprised that an AD doesn't need advice from professors? What expertise do they bring to the table as to how to run an athletic department? " what expertise did Brandon have to take the AD job? a third string player 30 years ago and i would argue a mediocre CEO. During much of his tenure Domino's lost market share, was consistently voted a bad product by the industry and the stock dropped steadily for 2 1/2 years after he issued that inexplicable $13.50 dividend on April 25 2007. Since he left Dominos for UofM the stock has been running up to all time highs.

An Arborigine

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

Sounds like trouble's a-brewin'. Pretty soon they're going to demand checks and balances on the Michigan Athletic Kingdom, imagine that!


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

"...Brandon sets the agenda for meetings and does not seek faculty input." "The word advisory doesn't seem to be applying much..." I've got a message for the faculty: Dave Brandon is an ex-CEO of a corporate pizza empire. He was hired to fire Rich Rodriguez, which he did. From that point forward, he has behaved as a CEO. He operates in a top down, autocratic manner, just like other CEOs. Unfortunately, universities are not corporate pizza empires, and he isn't going to change. Faculty need to go directly to Mary Sue if they have a complaint, but nothing will change. Brandon has free reign in the athletic department. The decision to expand the Big 10, or 14, or whatever, was made by the Big 10 conference, but individual schools' ADs could have protested, though I haven't read that any did. It's about big bucks for the member universities, major bucks. The faculty know that Maryland and Rutgers are not at the same level as other Big 10 schools, but the almighty $$$$ rules in these decisions, and I seriously doubt that anything the faculty said in one university in the Big 10 would have made any difference, even if Brandon conveyed that to the Big 10 commissioner. These decisions are not about academics or even about the quality of the football teams. It's about big money and media contracts. Brandon doesn't care that faculty weren't "in the loop," he operates as a top down autocratic CEO.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.....


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

Athletics wants more say regarding faculty. Without athletics the University of Michigan would just be another university...........


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

The first comment, alas, is staggeringly dumb.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

" Without athletics the University of Michigan would just be another university...." that may very well be true but it ignores a vital component.... without the University the athletics wouldn't exist. The University is the dog, the athletics is the dogs tail. The University could and would exist minus the athletic department. But the athletic department cannot exist outside the University.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

You mean like Harvard, Yale, MIT, the University of Chicago, etc.?

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

It does need to be remembered that the University is first an academic institution and sports is secondary despite the cash cow that is football . There are tens of thousands of students on campus that are NOT athletes. But every athlete must be a student with a minimum level of academic standing to play a sport. So its not unreasonable for the academic community to want some input on sports but not vise versa.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

Psst, Craig, much to my own surprise, I found at least four sources which spell the Latin for "the other way around" as "vice versa" nor "vise versa." Learned something else: "vice" is supposed to be pronounced "vi-cee" (two syllables). Oh and American football was originally introduced to American universities as a sort of extra-curricular activity - for entertainment. You're right though - the nature of the relationship has been one were the "importance" of this football entertainment is growing disproportionately relative to academia's. It seems that, for most people, a life of spectating sports combatants is preferred over a life of the mind. Hard to believe, eh?


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

If members of the committee, including the former dean of the college of LSA are not being kept up to date, something is really wrong. But then semi-professional college athletics are all wrong to begin with--they have nothing to do with the educational mission of universities, no matter how much pleasure they may provide the public. Football may be fun, but it does not help people learn anything, quite the opposite, it inhibits learning in the fall semester as many student grey cells disappear in alcoholic haze. Unfortunately, although our culture has enough professional sport to keep everyone happy, the college football tradition is here to stay. And then there are the Marx brothers and the famous battle between Huxley and Darwin colleges ...


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Do the athletic coaches want more say in the academic programs?


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

"Faculty want more say on University of Michigan athletics" and people in hell want ice water. Now go pound sand. ....Unless David Brandon gets to approve the syllabus for: How to be Gay Aliens Beyond 'Will and Grace Robin Hood: History & Fiction Philosophical Babies Dog Cognition, Behavior and Welfare Boy Meets World World-Wide Witchcraft: Witch-Belief & Witch-Hunting in Global Perspective


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

"What we have here, is a failure to communicate." someone once said in a movie. Also what we have here is an AD that cares only for his dept and merely tolerates his lessers, meaning the rest of the university. After all, everybody knows we`re the University of Michigan football team who is stuck with a pesky university of learning holding us back.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

Strother Martin (1919-1980) in Cool Hand Luke.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

"...expanding the Big Ten is not an athletic department decision, but a decision made by the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors..." Would any of the highly paid faculty from the education-industrial complex care to comment on that statement?


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

Cowgirl, read the first sentence of the story. Also, from the story: 1. "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." 2. "On topics ranging from Big Ten expansion to raising ticket prices for sporting events, the committee is not clued in, Rothman said."

Space Cowgirl

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

I don't see the faculty complaining about not being asked for permission to expand the Big Ten. It appears that the members of the Advisory Board on Intercollegiate Athletics simply want to be kept apprised of what is happening in intercollegiate athletics. That doesn't seem like too much to ask.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Sounds like someone got their toe stepped on - what couldn't get an upgraded ticket at Crisler? Why isn't the faculty group going to President Coleman who voted on the expansion? Does she not know that either?


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Seriously, why continue this farce any longer? It's apparent that the athletics department is going to do what it wants anyway? I think the University should spin off the athletic department like it does other entrepreneurial ventures and make the athletics department a private business. The could charge the UM Sports Corporation a licensing fee to use the block M and maybe a rental fee for the facilities. Better yet, just let the new corporation have the facilities and then the city could start charging property taxes.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

I definitely like the tax idea....the UM should be paying taxes to A2, as it dominates the city and the homeowners on the remaining 40% of the city land are picking up the tab in very high property taxes.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

Only in the fantasy world that is a large state University to people who have no training, expertise or background in something do professors believe they have actual power over something like athletics. I for one applaud the Athletic Director for running UofM's athletic department the way he sees fit without the input of dilusional professors with too much free time on their hands. As someone who has worked in higher education for my entire professional career I can tell you what a folly this idea of "shared governance" really is. Professors who truly care about their chosen field are a great asset to their field of study and our institutes of higher learning. However at every University you have these blow hards that think their opinion is so important that they need to have their finger in everything a University does. That includes athletics, public safety, dining facilities, housing, landscaping, charity, policy development and everything to the typs of urinal cakes in the bathrooms. If more of our professors spent their time figuring out how to do their jobs a little better then the University would benefit. These professors need to stop crying and let the athletic director do his job. I'm not a University of Michigan athletics fan and I don't know Mr. Brandon, however I do believe that a statistics professor should stick to statistics and let the athletic department take care of athletics. Otherwise I support the AD coming into the classroom and assisting with the professor's classes next semester.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

For the record the salary of the complainers: (source Michigan Daily Salary supplement) Edie Goldenberg $210K Ed Rothman $126K Allan Stam $210K Rowell Huesmann $467K Michael Imperiale $225K That's a whole bunch of overhead to us regular folk. The education bubble will burst sooner rather than later.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

What do their salaries have to do with the issue--they are "complaining" that they are not being allowed to do their job, which is oversight. This is one of the things they are getting paid to do! Sheer nonsense!


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

Actually, I was looking at the wrong year. His salary is 250K, with a 1/3 appointment in one department and a 2/3 appointment in a different department. Still not $467K.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Still, that's a lot of jack to complain and not many of us can say we make that much. Beggars can be choosers huh?

Rork Kuick

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Do regular folk consider education and research a pointless side-business compared to the main purpose of a University (football)?


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

No comment on whether these salaries are appropriate, but you're reading the Salary Supplement incorrectly with regard to Huesmann. His salary is $219K, not $467K. You added up two half-time appointments instead of dividing them each by two and then adding them up. Look at the column that says "fraction" and note the "0.5" next to each figure.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

Yo, Inside. Nice post.

Jeffersonian Liberal

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

Too bad these Profs aren't more concerned with actually teaching a class. A place where the students only see grad students and guest lecturers. The Athletic dept. pulls in the cash, so just go back to your office and spend the taxpayers dough on some useless study.

Terry Star21

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:22 a.m.

Liberal is very misinformed, and most likely not a Michigan grad. As a former student, I had the opportunity of not only excellent prof's, but individual guidance and support (not req. of teachers) I needed as well - priceless. However, I have no comment on this article above.

Tim Hornton

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

Best comment in long time. Awesome Mr. Liberal.

Rod Johnson

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

As a faculty member who teaches, hands on, hundreds of students every year (yep, I know their names and everything), I have to say that your cynicism is pretty poorly informed.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

You clearly haven't spoken to the THOUSANDS of students who have actually attended the classes and seminars taught by these much sought after professors. Not to mention the hundreds of students they've provide employment and research experience for over the years. Do your homework before blasting the integrity of good educators.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

there really is no need for a commitee like this it should be disbanded.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

what!!! who are they to insist that the 'ALMIGHTY ' michigan athletic dept. answer to anybody but the alumni ? wonder why the advisory board is just now asking questions?


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

There is some control from Central Campus administration of the atheltic department, regardless of whether the advisory committee is giving any advice as the Regents by-laws stipulate. It would be prudent to provide the appearance of seeking advice and council (i.e. patronize) the faculty as stipulated in by laws rather than showing outward disdain, as we do not want further NCAA sanctions to tarnish the reputation of this great University the way the athletic department has in the recent past. Perhpas a further tax from central campus of enhanced TV revenue is in order to show the NCAA the control that central campus has over the atheltic department.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

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," Nothing says open and transparent like a good old "no comment". In any case it would seem these folks should get a heads up before I do on the radio.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

David Ablauf is not having a good week. Of course, given the PR skills evident in the example above, he probably has a lot of bad weeks.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

When the AD funds the UM then they can be the boss. What? They do? Well then When the AD funds A2 then they can be the boss. What? The mayor just quit? Dagnabbit ! When the AD funds the enitre state of MI then they can be the boss. What ? Obama has just tweeted the UN Secretary General?


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

I don't get it.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

These grumbling malcontents clearly fail to grasp the point of a University. By definition, a statistics professor who wants to be listened to must wait until about 110,000 are scrambling for seats at their lectures, rain or shine, and $8 bottles of water be damned.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 11:19 a.m.

Seems like the regents need to see if Brandon is complying with the regents desire in having this committee.