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Posted on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

Oklahoma City T-shirt boy and family will take in Michigan-UMass game this season

By Nick Baumgardner

The Michigan football program will have a rather special guest on Sept. 15.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told on Thursday that the program will host five-year-old Cooper Barton and his family when the Wolverines take on Massachusetts at home this season.

School Dress Code2.jpg

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said the university will invite the boy and his family to a Wolverines home game this fall.

Barton, an elementary school student at Wilson Elementary School in Oklahoma City, was recently forced to turn his Michigan football T-shirt inside out due to a violation of the institution's dress code.

On Wednesday, Brandon announced that he planned to invite Barton and his family to a game this season, and also had plans on presenting him with an inside out Wolverines T-shirt.

In addition, Brandon says he'd like to publicly recognize Barton and his family during the UMass home game.

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

Brandon phoned Barton and his family to extend the invite Wednesday, and they gladly accepted.

Oklahoma television station News 9 captured the moment on video. - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

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



Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

I've just learned that Oklahoma and U-M are rivals in the same conference, so for me, that changes my opinion. I am now ultra opposed to the school rule permitting only spirit wear that celebrates Oklahoma. If there is a rule at all, it should be to ban all spirit wear. This is a toughie, because I still don't condone the boy's breaking the rule, nor do I think it's appropriate to honor the boy or his family. How was the school board able to pass such a dress code, and neither the school's attorney nor anyone else mentioned that the dress code would be so divisive and unfair? My apologies for my earlier harsh comments.

Lets Get Real

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

Dave Brandon is simply leveraging an opportunity to market UM Athleltics in a positive light. My bets? A certain UM Regent pitched in with Delta Tickets; a local hotelier donated rooms, a local restaurant contributed a gift certificate and the official gear shop gave the special shirt. Brandon snagged 4 UMass tickets (which they were still trying to peddle at the ticket office) and mended fences with the band sufficiently to make time during half time to introduce the boy. Pretty cost effective, in my book, for positive national attention for Michigan. I don't think he even thought about the school rule thing and if he did, it was probably rationalized that the boy is 5, didn't know the rule, and didn't intentionally break it. It is a nice gesture to a loyal fan family.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

Good posts, everyone. I strongly disagree with the school rule, especially as it applies to a five-year-old. I do think that AD Brandon's public recognition of the family, offer of the tickets, and the comment about the "crazy rule" are all highly inappropriate. The student broke an existing rule. The student is not a victim of any kind.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

If the gang issue is a problem, then they should ban ALL team shirts. You go Cooper!! Enjoy the game!!


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

Judging by the comments here, no good deed goes unpunished.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:30 a.m.

1) Marketing is fine. 2) UM is not sticking their noses in some Oklahoma school district's business. I don't recall anything about UM petitioning the municipal government to get some regulation changed. UM is sticking their noses in the Barton's business, or should I say the willing and thrilled Barton's? To think otherwise is illogical. 3) UM is not rewarding the boy for violating the school rule. Unless they tell him to were telling him to do it again, their only reward is to support a UM fan in their unjust persecution and adversity. 4) I'll explain the "fairness." First of all fairness has nothing to do with it. Life isn't "fair" except in the minds of dolts. Second, flying a 100+ member band and transporting tons of band equipment to Dallas and back costs somewhere near $500,000. Flying the four Bartons, giving free passes to the luxury suite they will be in (I hope), staying at the Campus Inn, dinner for four for two nights and whatever else UM can toss their way is what? $4,000? And who is to say where those funds are coming from? The $496,000 difference over-rules your "fair." 5) UM is an institution which benefits from this type of thing and they are correct to maximize their exposure for the sake of the University, the football program and the fun of it.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:02 a.m.

Let's see? Darth Vader has problems sending the band to Dallas (since solved with loads of alumni donor money) but will fly in a family from OKC because the kid had a Michigan T-shirt? Someone explain the "fairness" of this, please?

Wally the Wolverine

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:54 a.m.

Unfortunately, DB said they'll have to take a bus to AA because the cost of a flights was not in the budget.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Aug 25, 2012 : 4:06 p.m. must have missed the part of that story that said that they would stop at several cities along the way so the boy could demo the two-sided shirt for alumni. Unfortnately, they will arrive on game day and have to leave immediately after the game to drive home. Still....


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 1:31 a.m.

I love this story. Big thrill for the family and great marketing. It's all good.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:06 a.m.

Was this in the budget?


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:23 a.m.

No...they are going to leave three tuba players and a majorette home to make up the cost.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 11:26 p.m.

Hey! Who is hurt by this? And in addition the Oklahoma school system is reviewing its policy indicating that it is not sure that the rule is fair and justified. Dave Brandon is taking advantage of the situation to get favorable national attention for our football program. I believe that this type of advertising is an important part of his job and I give him credit for recognizing the situation and then taking advantage of it. And the most effected by all this attention is the five year old boy and his family who are elated at the prospect of being honored at a Michigan football home game. I hope that the "inside-out" Michigan T-shirt will also be sold to the public as I am anxious to add it to my collection. Good PR, Brandon! And likely good profits as well.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 10:29 p.m.

The kid is 5 years old AND sporting a non conference tee shirt. Clearly a gang member. *Sigh and Roll eyes. *Sarcasm.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

Former Ann Arborite posting from the Oklahoma City area. Apparently the rule has to do with a gang problem in OKC--some gangs wear certain team shirts, so they don't allow fan shirts which are not from Oklahoma. They're trying to prevent any flashing of gang signs. There's nothing particular against Michigan going on. Not saying I agree with the rule, but at least there is a reason behind it. Hope the kid enjoys his big day at the Big House!


Sat, Aug 25, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

Thank you. This background is an important piece to understanding the story.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.

Really? Are gangs in OKC still wearing their Oakland Raiders garb? That is so 1992....


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 11:42 p.m.

What about the gangs that wear OSU shirts?


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 9:13 p.m.

The whole invite to the family is really cool. I think Michigan now has a verbal commit for the class of 2025. And he'll be recruiting already for the Maize and Blue!


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.

Maybe I'm missing something. The boy violated a school rule that prohibits spirit wear? I don't agree with the school rule, and as a parent I would try to persuade the school board to change the rule. But, the rule was in place when the boy violated the rule. And now U-M is rewarding the boy and his family by hosting them at an upcoming game? Why is this? (I'm not as curmudgeonly as I sound... I really just don't understand.)


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 1:15 a.m.

The school board rule prohibits out of state schools' "spirit wear" and professional teams. Per the school board, it is "ok" to wear OK school teams items. Why anyone would - is another question I suppose.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 11:30 p.m.

If it were I private school I would agree wtih you.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

I agree with you and Itchy, but many commenters here think this is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Go figure! U-M has their priorities wrong again.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 7:51 p.m.

After reading this article, I am quite disappointed in the UM. They should have taken the high road and kept their noses out of the business of the Oklahoma school issue. Oklahoma might have had a good reason in the beginning when the rule was created, but the current issue is way overboard. Almost makes me think of meatless Mondays (where I am going to decide what you are going to eat) and New York City who is trying to lock up baby formula so that they can force new mothers to breast feed (I am going to decide how you feed your new baby). This issue and Oklahoma, as well as some of our local issues are out-of-control. Big Brother is here and getting stronger. Our US government owns one third of our population – who are on some sort of government handout such as welfare, SS disability, Medicaid, etc. (SS & Medicare do not count as we pay for these in our taxes). 1/3rd folks! This is quite shocking if you ask me. UM should have kept out of the issue. If they wish to invite a young person to a football game, it should be someone local, who is underprivileged. They can get much, much more good will and good press from an act such as this. They should stay out of the business of the Oklahoma school system. Let this group settle their own issues. We have our hands full with our issues.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

Take the tin foil off your head and get a grip! Must everything be drilled down to the core rather than just taking a lighthearted story for what it's worth? So he put a smile on a young fan's face and giving him the thrill of going to a game at the Big House. Now go get a hug from your Mommy and get over yourself. Life is much happier and more enjoyable if you don't dwell on the negative you perceive in everything.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 11:29 p.m.

Itchy, I am disappointed. You should have taken the high road and kept your nose out by not commenting.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 11 p.m.

I agree with some of your post. Yes the rule is probably stupid (like the rule at my kids school that it is frowned upon to talk about spring break vacations cuz it will make some kids feel bad). Maybe this story doesn't exactly fall into the following category, but it seems like the formula is: break stupid rule, immediately go on tv and complain, get rewarded. I am just waiting for the Today Show to book this kid if they haven't already.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 9:10 p.m.

Talk about going off topic. Oh well, it's only one opinion. Doesn't deserve any mroe mention than that.

Terry Star21

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

Itchy - what in the world did you just comment about ?????


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

Lay off the herbs. They are making you paranoid. I dont have the energy to disect each one of your sentences and tell you much they either don't apply to this situation or are just flat out wrong.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

Ok sorry. I misread. I am going to ban myself! If someone could delete my comment above, that would be greatly appreciated!


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

Sheesh! You are saying "big brother" shouldn't tell people what to do. "Big Brother" was doing exactly that to this kid and his family!


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 7:15 p.m.

Dave Brandon knows how to market...


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

not benevolence, just marketing


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 11:27 p.m.

not "just" marketing, good marketing


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 7:51 p.m.

How else to explain how a TV "news" camera was there to capture the moment, or the fact that Mr Brandon gets to strut his stuff in front of the devoted and unquestioning fan base for a couple of days?

Terry Star21

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

Great video, brought tears to my eyes. What a thrill for Barton and his family. A big thrill for any child/adult in America is to wear a Michigan shirt and most certainly the biggest thrill of any American is to attend a Michigan game. MgoBlueForTiM...Brandon, Bartons, Big House - Priceless.