The Wolverine

October 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 18 of 67

OCTOBER 2022 THE WOLVERINE 19 the stuff had gone down over the last cou- ple of years. That team has had our num- ber. For us to finally get one just meant the world to everybody." T W: After your head coach's best season in seven, were you concerned that you were go- ing to lose him? WM: "Yeah. But it all worked itself out, and I'm glad he's unbeaten with us this year." TW: How do you like how they've gone about their business in the time following that post- season uncertainty? WM: "I really enjoyed the way Jim has handled the success, the team, spring ball. Watching him is a joy. You can see joy ex- ude from him in terms of being around the team and being out on the field coaching. "He really jells with the staff he has. They're really connected. It shows with the team. They're coached hard, they play hard, but they have fun. They're there for each other. Everything you want from a team. "For me, it's as he says — everybody has an opportunity to compete. And I love that. That's all you can ask, and all you can guarantee our student-athletes. All I want our coaches to guarantee our stu- dent-athletes is that they have a chance to compete, to be successful and help us drive success." T W: What are your thoughts on the transfer portal, and how it has affected college ath- letics? WM: "I'm very supportive of the ability to have student-athletes transfer, par- ticularly where it hasn't been there — football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, hockey. They didn't have the one-time transfer exemption. "We made those sports just like every other sport. You could transfer. I think it's good for student-athletes to have the op- tion for various reasons. "But I also am concerned about the im- pact, academically, of those who leave and those who come in. Having served on the academic cabinet years and years ago, I saw transfers graduate at slightly lower rates, but significantly, than those who stay at the same institution. "You can figure out why. Not every in- stitution accepts other schools' classes and transfers. People might have to change a degree and add some credits. "The transfer portal, in and of itself, is not the issue. What is trying to be cor- rected now is the timing of it. "When can a student-athlete enter the transfer portal? You're trying to get kids to go through a season, as opposed to, in the middle of the season and jumping into the transfer portal. "At times, it is apparent, we don't want to see our children struggle. And people don't want to see people struggle. But sometimes, life and sports is about the struggle. "That is a piece of it that we need to understand. There are a lot of superstars here. You've got to compete. That some- times is taken away by people's desire to be told that they are going to be the starter at a certain position, and not have to com- pete. "When you recruit great athletes, this might be the first time that they're not starting. They started as a freshman in high school, and throughout high school. They started on every AAU team they've been on. "They get here, and they are second string? Or third string? It is tough. But we have coaches and people who wrap their arms around them and love them and say, 'Hey, this is what you need to do.' "It's another level of competition. Guess what? The two guys in front of you are just like you. They started in high school, in AAU, and on whatever team they've been on. "Now you've got to compete. Now you've got to get stronger. Now you've got to understand stuff better. "I like the portal. But I think people lean on it too early, instead of giving it a chance. I know of examples where, if they'd stayed, they would have been great here, too." TW: You won't have as many Tom Brady stories. WM: "No, you won't, sadly." TW: NIL, collectives, etc., have come into ev- eryone's consciousness. Where does Michigan stand with all of that, in your view? WM: "I think we're right there, trying to do everything we can do to provide our student-athletes with opportunities to benefit from their Name, Image and Like- ness. We're educating them, providing them with connections and the ability to connect. "We're working with some of our part- ners to provide them with opportunities through group license and other opportu- nities to connect with businesses, donors and fans. We're going to continue to do that. We're going to continue to educate. We're going to continue to support. "There are collectives out there, from a Michigan standpoint. I've met and talked with a couple of them. I support them if they do things the right way. "This is not — and never has and never will be — a place that does inducements and guarantees kids, 'You're going to get money if you come here.' That's not what we do. "But collectives that want to support our student-athletes through Name, Im- age and Likeness? I'm very supportive of that." TW: What are your concerns on a national level of people doing precisely what you just said you will not do? WM: "That's up to the NCAA to figure that out and deal with those who are vio- lating rules we have on the books, that we collectively, as a membership, de- cided to put in place. "Inducements for recruits has been one that's been on the books for a long, long time. Name, Image and Likeness has not changed that. "I'll leave it up to them to figure that out. I'm not chasing rumors. I don't be- lieve everything I read and hear about what people are doing. I have some great colleagues across the country, and I've talked to them. I'll continue to talk to them about what they're doing. Manuel "Look, the biggest challenge at Michigan will always be to have great success. I put that sign up: 'You don't come to Michigan for easy. You come to Michigan for excellence.'"

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