Pat Caputo: Mark Schlissel Has Some Explaining To Do

He added there is to “some degree of doubt as to whether there will be college athletics, at least in the fall.”

Pat Caputo
May 26, 2020 - 8:42 am

University of Michigan president Dr. Mark Schlissel raised more questions than answers - and more than a few eyebrows, too, with this:

“If there is no on-campus instruction then there won’t be intercollegiate athletics, at least for Michigan,” Schlissel said to the Wall Street Journal.

He added there is to “some degree of doubt as to whether there will be college athletics, at least in the fall.”

But what if there is, and Michigan doesn’t participate for his given reason, especially in football?

Certainly there have been indications they plan on playing football in the SEC this fall. Auburn’s president has discussed as much - enthusiastically. Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith presented the notion of Ohio State having 20,000 to 25,000 at home games. The Buckeyes are planning voluntary workouts starting June 8.

If other teams play, would Michigan dare sit out alone or with few others?

If so, how much more would it fall behind in what is already a game of catch up with elite football programs such Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State?

Is it Schlissel’s call alone? What is the Board of Regents role in such a decision? How about the students? What about the alums and faculty? Shouldn’t their opinion matter?

Will the Big Ten stand for less than a uniform decision from its members? How encompassing does on-campus instruction need to be to pass Schlissel’s standard?

It’s understood Michigan is an institution of academic higher learning first, and that the pandemic is far beyond the usual scope of sports and norms of society. Safety first is an excellent message, especially from an immunologist such as Schlissel.

But how should it exactly be determined?

What about the athletes? If they aren’t allowed to play at one school, should the NCAA make an immediate exemption so they can at another?

Will Schlissel’s comments be used against Michigan in recruiting, not only in regard to football, but sports across the spectrum, including basketball?

“Any decision we make for this coming fall is likely going to be the case for the entire academic year,” Schlissel also told the Wall Street Journal. “What is going to be different in January?”

What did the players think seeing these comments? And their parents?

How do the finances measure out? Does playing football - the great revenue generator - with no crowd make sense when broadcast revenue is factored into the equation? What would the ripple effect be on the rest of Michigan’s athletic department?

Thing is, Schlissel seemed to provide definitive answers to the Wall Street Journal without filling in the blanks for many prerequisite questions.

It presented the sounding of an alarm before we even know if Michigan will have on-campus instruction - and in what form -  in the fall.

Not sure the comments will be received well. Not sure under the circumstances they should be, either.