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Posted on Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

Michigan to invite Oklahoma City T-shirt boy to home football game

By Nick Baumgardner

Five-year-old Cooper Barton was punished for showing his Michigan football pride recently in Oklahoma City.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon has a problem with that.

Brandon said Wednesday he plans to get in touch with Barton's family this week and extend an invitation for him and his family to attend a future Wolverines home game.

"We're going to invite he and his parents to come for a game and we'd like to put him up on the big board," Brandon said Wednesday during a presentation to the Detroit Economic Club. "We'd like to thank him for being a big Michigan fan.

"And I'm going to send him a T-shirt."

School Dress Code.jpg

Oklahoma City elementary school student Cooper Barton was punished for wearing a Michigan football T-shirt in school recently. In response, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said the university will invite the boy and his family to a Wolverines home game this fall.

AP photo

Barton, who attends Wilson Elementary School in Oklahoma City, was forced to turn his Michigan shirt inside out at school by his principal.

The shirt violated legislation in Oklahoma City's Public School dress code, which currently prohibits students from wearing any college apparel of a school not located in Oklahoma.

Brandon called that legislation "a bunch of crap," and said he hopes Michigan's outreach to the young boy will bring about change.

"Maybe the recognition of this will get them to re-think their kind of crazy rule in Oklahoma," he said.

Brandon said he asked the "M Den," Michigan's official merchandising outlet, to create an inside-out T-shirt for Barton, so he can support the Wolverines no matter what.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

Yes! Michigan truly is the center of the universe.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

They have their own universities in Oklahoma? Do they major in stone tools and hunting / gathering ?


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

I'm sure the family is thrilled to spend $1000+ on airfare to use $75 football tickets.

Ron Granger

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Maybe the shirt wearing should be protected because the Wolverines are the boy's religion. Who is anyone else to say that college football cannot be a protected religion? For that matter, who is anyone to say that you cannot have TWO religions? "On Sunday through Friday, I am a Protestant. But on Saturdays, on Saturdays I worship the Wolverines."


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 4:37 a.m.

Glad this is happening and thank you Business man Brandon, but still I shake my head why for one of our biggest games of the year you can't put the Michigan Band up in a motel room so that they can relax a little after a late night game...... The band is a strong symbol of Michigan and should be a priority. Just My Opinion.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 2:15 a.m.

This is Wal-Mart's finest hour.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 1:04 a.m.

Dear Dave, I wear my Michigan gear around Columbus all the time. I often am heckled while doing so. Please send a limo and two tickets to the state game. thanks, michboy40

Terry Star21

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

I give you a lot of credit. I always drive 10 below the speed limit when I venture in ohio.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 11:41 p.m.

Hey RedSchwinn: Ever hear of free speech? Both the boy and Brandon enjoy it. It is a constitutional right and and American value. Neither the boy nor Brandon check their constitutional rights at the door to their schools, and as athletic director, Brandon is well qualified to promote U of M and criticize Oklahoma for its stupid, xenophobic law, particularly when it affects young U of M fans. I see a tangle between Oklahoma and the ACLU in the near future.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

I'm not trying to restrict Mr Brandon's speech... he's free to express himself any way he wants to. I'm merely suggesting that in his role as a University official, he might want to choose his words a little more carefully. If you're comfortable with projecting West Washtenaw Tech (aka The Harvard of the Midwest) as a shoot-from-the-hip, speak-first-and-think-later institution, have at it.

Terry Star21

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 11:37 p.m.

"Brandon said he asked the "M Den," Michigan's official merchandising outlet, to create an inside-out T-shirt for Barton, so he can support the Wolverines no matter what". Dave Brandon is great, 24/7 thinking about Michigan and taking care of everything that wants to be a part of the greatest college football team ever. And what a thrill for this youngster to be on the big board. MgoBlueForTiM.....Big Barton, Big Board, Big House !

East Side Dad

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 9:44 p.m.

Having lived in Oklahoma for a few years, and recently relocating back to Michigan and Ann Arbor, I can tell you this is not surprising. To many Oklahoma residents (and government officials) the world starts and stops with OSU and OU football and "hillbilly hand fishin". To counteract this trend, I knew some parents who imposed a "your college choice must be 400 miles away" requirement on their kids so they would broaden their horizons after high school. I salute U-M for bringing the boy and his parents up for a game.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 9:18 p.m.

The "bunch of crap" here is the U-M Athletic Director, speaking as the Athletic Director and not as a private citizen, characterizing any school board's policy as a "bunch of crap". The rules in question may be outdated, and certainly should be reviewed/revised, but Mr Brandon was speaking at DEC as an official of the U-M, and the remark was inappropriate. One hopes that Dr. Coleman might advise Mr Brandon to watch his words a little more carefully. One hopes, but one does not kid oneself.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

If you'd ever shared the trails in the Grand Canyon with the mules, who let fly as they walk, you'd understand, Billy Bob, that crap does sometimes appear as a bunch, rather than a pile. But that's real world experience, not just a belief.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 5:51 p.m.

Billy Bob, funniest response by far!

Terry Star21

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 11:44 p.m.

Red - you're forgetting we live in America, land of the free. That over rules any policies prohibiting people from expressing their choice of a 'legitimate' university on their shirt, although their school may be allowed to have a dress code - they failed with this one !

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 11:31 p.m.

I agree, Dave. I believe the correct term is "a pile of crap." I don't think crap comes in bunches.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

As much as I agree with Dave aout the policy beinga bunch of crap, I do have to agree with RedSchwinn. Dave was speking as a University of Michigan official at the time nd shouln't have made that comment, or at least not how he said it. It would hae been more appropiate if it was worded differently


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

Baloney. Any school with a policy like this district should not be teaching children in the USA. It reeks of prior restraint, one of the worst violations of the right to free press, speech and expression. The term "bunch of crap" is no where near as "inappropriate" as what I thought when I read about this.

J. A. Pieper

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

Someone needs to inform Oklahoma City Schools that wearing a T-shirt or sweat shirt from a university/college promotes higher education. The idea of attending school beyond high school needs to be implanted in a child's mind at a young age, because then they grow up knowing they will get a college degree, and they will do everything they can to achieve this goal. Aren't we "One Nation?" Maybe promoting University clothing would give children something else to think about, especially if they see it a lot in their school career!

Terry Star21

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 11:40 p.m.

J.A. - from what I read online, they are going to seriously rethink their policies. Nothing like a little 'Michigan' publicity hey ?

Theo's Brother

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

Awesome! You go Dave. Hail.

Terry Star21

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 11:38 p.m.

I miss Theo. We need him back and to again be the biggest Michigan football faithful on this board.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

Great story. This is where fan for life are made. Pretty cool idea. Go Blue!!

Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 8:19 p.m.

Since the Mom said that she and her husband "bleed maize and blue" I'll bet they are way farther out than that with Brandon's recognition - and tickets to a game.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

Wow, way to go Brandon bring the money to Michigan! You are a smart politician and you should run for govenor of this great state! GO BLUE!


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Fantastic idea!!! Michigan is going to KO that game big time, right?


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

Send a T-shirt to the principal, too. And send a whole case of them to the boy's class when the rule is changed.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

Make sure the new shirt has the correct attendance capacity 109,901 THE BIGGEST HOUSE!! GO BLUE!


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

Have to agree with Dave Branch on the "bunch of crap" rule at Oklahoma City School rules. It's ok to wear Oklahoma or Oklahoma State but not any other school. I understand their not wanting certain other shirts as not to promote gang violence but UM, MSU or even USC should be alright.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

Sorry my spell checker put in Branch when it should have left Brandon alone, sorry


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 7:31 p.m.

Brandon, Nice gesture and why don't u offer a job to the kid's father or mother so they all can move closer to the BIG HOUSE away from the GESTAPOklahoma.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

I can't help wondering where the Michigan family is when it came time to show this young man the support he needed when he voiced his allegence to the way of life that is Michigan. This is no different than a Jewish child sent home for wearing his"Kippah". It is a sad day in America when this boy was denied his right to express his beliefs. The question that begs to be answered is , "Where was the support from the Michigan family ?" We know as the head coach Hoke's time is consumed right now with fall practice. So now doesn't the responsibility fall at the feet to the coach next in line to assume this responsibility? I and most other Michigan faithful say most definately yes !! So, we logically turn our attention to the man whose this responsibility falls at the feet of. That being one Al Borges. Who, as no surprise by now, again turns his back on a child in desperate need. Another neglected outreached hand extended in the direction of Mr. Borges. It is blindingly obvious to me that Mr. Borges is not up to the challenge of meeting the obligations of that being associated with the University of Michigan. I, for one am tired of case after case of our neglected young being leading me to the same sad dead-end that Al Borges seems to always be at the end of. Time to go Mr Borges. May you find your soul somehow. However, it will not happen at the University of Michigan.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

I'm going to venture a guess that the word you needed help with was "appetite".


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 6:39 a.m.

Ted, It's a disgrace that some Michigan fans weren't able to enjoy your hilarious satirical response to the article. I can only hope that these ignorant few at no point represent those of us who actually received an education at the University of Michigan. Well done on your troll. It was truly funny. I too have been the victim of such discrimination, only I feel as though my circumstance was even worse. I was in the Michigan Union when I asked my friend how to spell a word. I don't even recall what word it was. Anyway, a young lady wearing an Eastern Michigan Eagles shirt interrupted and said, "You go to Michigan and you don't know how to spell that?" She then proceeded to spell the word and then followed by saying, "that must be the Michigan difference." This racist act deeply affected me. I fell deep into depression, cried for three days straight and lost my apatite for two weeks. I still get choked up just talking about it. Al Borges is extremely articulate and is very sesquipedalian. I believe this woman assumed all Michigan students were this way as well due to Al Borges having these characteristics as well as being a Michigan football coach. For this reason, he must go. I can't be held to this unattainable standard.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 1:37 a.m.

I want to bite on this jibber jabber I really do, alas it is just too ridiculous to invest more time in.

Terry Star21

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

Ted.....I love the way you pulled Borges into this. Hating Borges, and his coaching abilities will not bring your king back. He is long gone. Please come back to Michigan, we love you and need you. Your friend.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

Lots of people are not Borges fans. I got it the first read. It is satire. Since Ted is not a Borges fan, he is getting a start on the season and blaming Al (as many do) for all that is wrong in the world. I agree that the religious part is a bit over the top, but this is still a blatant denial of the boy's first amendment right to express his views publicly. Remember black armbands? Remember all the other cases dealing with suppression of a student's opinions in schools? Well, here's another one, and a totally ridiculous on for sure. What is it about Oklahoma anyhow?


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 11:05 p.m.

Ted has a deep resentment for Mr. Al. Perhaps he reminds him of Ted's daddy who didn't hug him enough. Let's all send our love out to Ted.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 10:34 p.m.

If you're trying to be funny, then I guess good job? It wasn't all that great though. I'm going to assume that you're being serious about all of this though, because there is definitely a possibility that someone like you could exist in the world. I find it odd that you would automatically assume that this is Al Borges' responsibility. I know Hoke is busy with fall practice, but don't you think that the offensive coordinator is busy with the same thing? David Brandon already showed support for the child based on the article. This is just another case of a silly rule that will probably be changed after all of this publicity. One thing off topic from all of this; If you really did call the police over some kids writing a competitive phrase in chalk on your drive way, then you should probably take some self defense classes or something. Being afraid for your life enough to call the police over children would definitely be enough alone to enroll in the classes. What happens when a grown man comes around? You're going to want to be prepared. I'm just trying to help.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

I'm thinking satire may be a little too deep for this crowd, ted. And maybe you did overreach just a tad. Nice try, though.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.

ted, I fail to see how someone yelling at you about yours and theirs fans affiliation and then something about that affiliation written in chalk, which is easily washed off, is in any way like having racist remarks yelled and spray painted on ones property. You really need a reality check. The last time I looked being a UM fan or a MSU fan or for that matter a Detroit Red Wings, as I am, is the same as being African American or Jewish or Arab or any other ethnic group.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.

@mrunner ...And ignore the many compromised moral obligations of Mr Borges seems to commit almost on a daily basis ? You are saying he is not responsible for the plight of this young man ? Should he not be in Oklahoma right now lending this boy a helping hand through his turmoil ?


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

Ted: You digress; follow the story headline, read the story THEN comment. Al Borges's being dismissed is redundent. It has nothing to do with the 5 year boy from Oklahoma being rewarded by Michigan. So I ask, what's so hard about that? You probably will get plenty of chances to comment on Al Borges once the regular season starts. The Michigan offense will not score on every play nor will they convert first downs on every play. Once the offense is fairly put under the microscope during the course of the season, then you can criticize all you want or are entitled to do.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

Correction not "Mother opponents". Meant to say "my other opponents"


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

I'm sorry Ombudsman, Maybe you don't understand that I will not sit by and let Mother opponents hurl hate speech and intolerance. Where are we as a society that does not stand up to the evil in the world. Such rhetoric is hateful and bigoted racist. We as a civilized society should not idly sit by while those who are intolerant . If you have never been the victim of the racist experiences I have you may not be able to empathize. You see, I myself had once been the victim of such hateful intolerance I was in the front yard with my children when 2 children from the neighborhood yelled at me "Michigan State rules , Michigan Stinks !" upon seeing my Michigan bumper sticker on my car. The worst part was, that my children had to witness this. I had to explain to them that people were capable of being very cruel ,intolerant and hateful. A few weeks later I woke up to find on the sidewalk in front of my house the words, " Michigan State Rules " written in chalk. I called the police, but they said they really couldn't do anything about it and not to take it too personal. This was no doubt in my mind a hate crime. If you want to sit by and do nothing that is your choice, don't ask others to not stand up and do the right thing.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

Your post reads like it was written about 2 martinis too late. Keep up your trolling, but try to do it early in the morning.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

while i agree that schools shouldn't ban such clothing i think the comparison you made between wearing collegiate athletic apparel and sacred religious attire is absolutely absurd, and while it doesn't offend me personally, i'm quite positive there are many that beg to differ. you clearly demonstrate a very harmful mindset common within our community that's seldom recognized: people take football way way way out of context. to think that someone could compare football fandom to something worn by highly observant religious practitioners makes me worry about this community and what it seems to value.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 6:33 p.m.

Awesome! Cooper, you are a true Michigan man. Bless you Mr. and Mrs. Barton for raising such a classy young man.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

An inside out shirt, very clever Mr. Brandon. Kudos


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 9:44 p.m.

Yeah, an inside-out shirt would probably get the kid suspended for a day, at least. Cool!!!!