Birk's Eye View: Michigan wrong to deny Demar Dorsey's admittance
Argue all you want about whether Michigan should have recruited Demar Dorsey in the first place.
With a couple criminal complaints in his past and at least two admitted home invasions, Dorsey hardly fits most fans' ideal of a Michigan football player - except that he’s blazing fast and supremely talented and would have helped the Wolverines’ thin secondary this fall.
But once Michigan signed Dorsey to a binding letter of intent in February, once coach Rich Rodriguez put his reputation on the line to bring Dorsey to Ann Arbor, the Wolverines were wrong to walk away from him the way they did.
Cowardly denying his admission, without, according to his father, offering even a decent explanation why.
If something changed with Dorsey in the past four months, if he did something that jeopardized his scholarship, I could understand Michigan running the other direction. Fast.
But turning its back on one of the nation’s most scrutinized recruits now reeks of hypocrisy and bad business. It sends a questionable message to future recruits, and it reinforces the perception that Rodriguez is in trouble as coach.
Dorsey was academically qualified by NCAA standards. He still could have been red-flagged by the Clearinghouse this summer - boosting your grades through the alternative education program, Life Skills, naturally deserves a closer look.
Even if that was the case, Michigan could have followed the well-accepted NCAA practice of placing Dorsey in a prep school with the intent of re-signing him next year. (A junior college, in this instance, wouldn’t have worked. Michigan rarely accepts juco transfers.)
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said Wednesday the practice of denying admission to an NCAA qualifier after that person signs a letter of intent is more common than people think.
“This is not a unique situation,” he said. “As much as some people may want to believe it is, it isn’t.”
But Susan Peal, who manages the national letter of intent program, said less than 2 percent of the 36,110 recruits who signed an NCAA Division I or II scholarship last year filled out a release request before setting foot on campus.
Of the 631 releases granted - another 37 were contested by schools - most were done for personal reasons (163), a desire to attend a different school (115) or because of a coaching change (70). No numbers were available on how many releases were, essentially, at the school’s request.
Peal said the LOI program is intended to be “an agreement on both parties that if you sign there’s a guarantee of the athletics aid for one academic year.”
Brandon said a university’s obligation from the time a letter of intent is signed until enrollment “is to communicate directly with the perspective student-athlete to make sure they know exactly what is expected and where they stand, and (when) the final resolution is made to let them know what that is.”
“I have not been informed of anything that is irregular about the way this case was handled,” he said.
Maybe not irregular, but improper.
While it’s true the ultimate decision to deny Dorsey’s acceptance was made by the Michigan’s admissions department, there also are enough powerful people at the university who could have seen to it that Dorsey get in if they wanted.
Instead, Rodriguez and his staff, who were roundly praised by Dorsey’s father for the way they handled the situation, were the only ones with enough principle to stand by their word.