Having been AWOL on player-safety issues, and having taken almost no position on any issue of significance in college sports reform, Michigan AD Brandon set some wheels in motion at 1 a.m. this morning to institute some effective concussion-management protocols, including the Press Box Safety Monitor which I proposed in my post yesterday.
But the process which led to Brandon’s press release is jaw-dropping evidence of Brandon’s recurring careerist obsession with attempting to make himself look good at the expense of others — in this case, Brady Hoke (the very football coach Brandon hired.)Hoke claimed that, at the time of his Sunday press release and his Monday press conference, he had no idea that Morris had had any concussion symptoms. And Brandon now reveals that Hoke was telling the truth, but also — incredible as it may seem — that Brandon never once spoke to Hoke during the two and one-half days after the Morris hit took place in the Minnesota game.
Which reveals that Hoke, in Brandon’s mind, is on his way out. Brandon let Hoke, who works for him, continue to look clueless these last two days, while a searing spotlight of rather extraordinary national attention was focused upon Hoke. Hoke — a fundamentally decent man, who doesn’t lie — got hung out to dry by Brandon.
Brandon has unnecessarily made a fool of Brady Hoke, by making it clear to all that Hoke was not a part of Brandon’s process for solving the concussion management crisis which Brandon caused. But Brandon’s snub of Hoke is also just one more careerist move by Brandon which will cause Brandon himself considerable damage. Brandon’s unbridled careerism has, in fact, repeatedly led him to give highest priority merely to maximizing athletics gross income — at the expense of other not just legitimate, but mandated goals.
For example, NCAA Constitution Article 1.3.1 claims that,
“A basic purpose of this Association is to maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational program and the athlete as an integral part of the student body and, by so doing, retain a clear line of demarcation between intercollegiate athletics and professional sports.”
Reading this, one might quickly arrive at the conclusion that keeping the athlete as “an integral part of the student body” might require insuring that the student body has ready, easy, and inexpensive access to tickets to attend the Michigan football games where those “student-athletes” perform — which happens by giving students access to cheap tickets.
Instead, Brandon jacked the student per-ticket price to $65 — and the students (causing significant national notoriety) are staying away. Was Brandon’s student ticket pricing decision-making wise? No. And it wasn’t even actually necessary. After all, to paraphrase Judge Wilken in the O’Bannon trial: what about that extra $20 million in annual “found” new TV money? Where did that all go? But Brandon’s concern has too often been with making himself look good — and he thinks that he looks good when gross income is maximized.
Brandon has knifed an extremely decent, probably flawed Brady Hoke, but has simultaneously set in motion a chain of events which will cause Brandon significant self-inflicted wounds, because Brandon has just confirmed for Michigan’s football players that Hoke — whose status was already attenuated — has no support from, or credibility with, Michigan’s AD. Brandon has told the world that Hoke is a dead man walking. Why, then, should the players pay any attention to Hoke? Brandon’s behavior these last few days, in which he desperately plays catch-up to correct the shabby concussion-management process which Brandon’s earlier neglect caused, has probably insured that the rest of the Michigan football season will be a chaotic, miserable experience for all.
Brandon bids Brady bye-bye.